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Hemphill honored as city's top volunteer

Event celebrates community spirit and dedication of retired engineer.

May 04, 2011|By Joe Piasecki
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

In a ceremony marked by high spirits and fond memories, the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada Flintridge honored longtime community volunteer Clyde Hemphill as its La Cañadan of the Year.

“It’s an honor and a privilege,” Hemphill, 80, said to more than 100 Kiwanis members and other well-wishers who gathered Wednesday afternoon at Van de Kamp Hall in Descanso Gardens. “This is probably the most prestigious award that La Cañada gives to anyone, and I’m really humbled to have it.”

La Cañadan of the Year awards have been presented annually since 1951 to the community member whose lifelong efforts best exemplify a broad-based commitment to volunteerism, said Kiwanis President-elect Mary Gant.

Affirming Hemphill fills the bill, local dignitaries, Kiwanis organizers, friends and family members took turns at the podium recalling his roles in a number of community activities.

“In a city that’s known for its spirit of volunteerism, Clyde stands at the head of the class,” said City Councilman Donald Voss, one of those who had nominated Hemphill for the award.
During his remarks, Voss held up a dictionary in which he had taped Hemphill’s picture under “volunteer extraordinaire,” he said.

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Hemphill, a native of New Jersey, first arrived in La Cañada in 1969 to run a JPL field office for the Martin Marietta Corporation. The father of four almost immediately began lending a hand to the La Cañada High School football program.

After his retirement in 1995, Hemphill went to work at building an extensive volunteering résumé that currently includes roles as vice president of the La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council, member of the city’s Public Works and Traffic Commission, board member for the Valley Water Company and organizer with the local Tournament of Roses Association.

Hemphill was previously honored in 2008 with the Coordinating Council’s Les Tupper Service Award and has also received an Older Americans Recognition Award from City Hall.

“He’s the hardest-working retiree I’ve ever met,” said local Chamber of Commerce chairman and LCUSD Governing Board member Joel Peterson.

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