BONITA SPRINGS — John C. Warfield, a longtime pillar of the Bonita Springs community, was named Citizen of the Year on Wednesday during the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to receive this award and how much I’ll cherish it,” Warfield said at the event held at the Bonita Bay Club.
Warfield, the former CEO of Frederick Motor Company in Maryland, retired to Bonita Springs in 1991,
He has been active in the Chamber of Commerce for the last two decades and is a member of the President’s Club. The Bonita Springs Morning Rotary Club recently established a scholarship in his name.
Other organizations benefitting from Warfield’s philanthropy include Hope Hospice, United Way of Lee County, the YWCA, Art Center of Bonita Springs, Literacy Council, Speakers Assembly of Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and the Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
“John never turned them down, either giving of his expertise or treasure, or both,” said Vince Modarelli, advertising manager for The Banner and a new Chamber director. Modarelli presented the award to Warfield along with Naples Daily News Publisher Dave Neill and Fort Myers News-Press Publisher Mei-Mei Chan.
Warfield served on the first Bonita Springs City Council, representing the fourth district, and he was on of the Board of Directors for the Bonita Springs Community Foundation. He currently serves on the United Way of Lee County’s Bonita Bay Community Committee.
“We have so many wonderful organizations down here to get involved with,” noted Warfield, who encouraged everyone in the room to lend their own talents to local civic groups.
The luncheon also featured the official “passing of the gavel” from Chairman Sabra Smith to incoming Chairman Jim Dati. In her “State of the Chamber” address, Smith commended Chamber members for hosting more than 100 events last year and keeping Bonita on the “Five Star” list, a designation earned by less than 1 percent of all Chambers of Commerce nationwide.
“We’ve all had to do a bit of reinventing ourselves to keep up with the challenges the economy has brought,” Smith noted.
Dati sported sunglasses for his address to the Chamber body, announcing the humorous motto for the upcoming year, borrowed from ’80s pop rock band Timbuk3: “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”
“It’s pretty corny, but in a large manner, it reflects how I feel about our chamber, our community and Southwest Florida in general,” Dati said. “I’m optimistic.”
Others receiving awards at the luncheon were: Wiebel, Hennells and Carufe, Small Business of the Year; Nigel Fullick, Pat Lord Award; Phyllis Erchowsky, Chairman’s Award; Jon Davis; Director of the Year; Rosier Insurance, Small Business Member; KeyBank, Large Business Member; Nancy Holloram, Ambassador of the Year; Brian Farrar and Bill Shakany, outgoing directors; Darren Robertshaw and Doug Congress, Foundation Board.