Warm wishes for the season and a tribute to its true meaning took center stage at Sunday’s 22nd Annual Christmas Island Style Gala held at Bistro Soleil.
In a wonderland setting of garlands and Christmas sparkle, the community joined to honor those who make Marco Island a better place.
Keith Dameron of IberiaBank received Marco Island’s Volunteer of the Year award and reflected that recognition back to the community.
“Look at the people across the table from you,” he said. “You’re looking at a half dozen to a dozen more caring and more deserving people than I. Volunteering makes this island so special.”
Corbin Wyant, former publisher of the Naples Daily News, gave Dameron high praise in an introduction to the award.
One candidate stood out to the community, he said. This person sees a need and immediately steps in to fill it. He’s an enthusiastic go-getter.
Dameron was ribbed for his Saturday “shred parties” but praised for his innovative ideas when supporting any community endeavor that asks for his assistance.
Another community banker, Tom Wagor of M&I Bank, received the Marco Island Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I am honored, humbled and proud,” Wagor said. “I’ve been lucky in my community service years working with many who have become good friends. I want to thank you for blessing me with your friendships.”
Wagor received his portrait painted by J.J. Stinchcomb as part of the award.
Betsy Perdichizzi was honored as the 19th Marco Island Citizen of the Year. The award, started by Cobin Wyant and the Naples Daily News in 1991, has been one of the island’s highest honors.
Perdichizzi is best recognized for a deep and enduring commitment to the history of the island, Wyant said in his introduction to the award.
She is credited with being foremost in preserving that history through founding the Marco Island Historical Society and creating such historical roles as “Tommie Barfield” for dramatic presentation to children and local groups, he said.
Perdichizzi has written two books based on Marco Island’s history and was instrumental in convincing the Smithsonian Institution to loan the Key Marco Cat artifact to the area not once, but twice.
She was a driving force behind the creation of Marco’s new historical museum scheduled to open February 2010.
In summing up her legacy, Wyant pointed to the permanency of her contributions.
Perdichizzi will always be remembered for leaving footsteps on the sands of our beaches that will not be washed away by time and tides, he said.
“I feel very honored to join your ranks,” Perdichizzi said speaking to other Citizen of the Year recipients. “I want to thank my co-chair and partner, Bill Perdichizzi.”
Both the Marco Island Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year awards are given through the Naples Daily News Media Group. Its president and publisher, Chris Doyle, helped host the awards.
Mike Ward of Erin’s Isle received the annual Christmas Island Style award for exemplary support of its activities.
Two Lifetime Achievement awards were given posthumously.
An emotional Pat Neale honored E. Glenn Tucker for years of quiet charity and dedication to the community, calling him its “silent leader.”
Bob Stakich was honored for filling the community with a passion to preserve its well-being.
“We are forever indebted to them,” said Sandi Riedemann, CEO of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce. “They will not be forgotten.”
Past recipients of Marco Island’s Volunteer of the Year are Dale Rod, Judy Barney, Helen Ann Federspiel, Carolyn Katchmar, Charlie Horn, Pat Stoye, Cindy Anderson, Al Diaz, Phillip Penzo, Pat Berry, Paula Tateo, Dave Rice, Dr. Faye Biles, Rita Broderick, Joel Gewirtz, and Paula Robinson. Carl Smith and Marge Rocap were recipients who are now deceased.
Past Recipients of Marco Island’s Citizen of the Year are Cheryl Ferrara, Craig Woodward, Marion Blomier, Herb Savage, Jim Curran, George Schroll, Mel Ollman, Dick Shanahan, Tom Owens, Ken Venturi, Joe Coriaci, Robert Mulhere, Harold Vann, Tom Shea, Dottie Weiner and Frank Blanchard. Gene Sarazen and Stakich were recipients who are now deceased.
The 2009 Christmas Island Style Gala was sponsored by the Marco Eagle and Naples Daily News.