Ex-mayor, wife named Sequim Citizens of the Year

SEQUIM — To collect herself, Sherry Schubert had to turn away when her name was announced at Tuesday’s Sequim Citizen of the Year award luncheon.

She recovered rapidly as she and her husband, Walt Schubert, accepted their plaque plus a standing ovation from the crowd at the Sequim Elks Club.

The Schuberts received the 41-year-old honor during a lunch hosted by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Secret selection

Past Citizen of the Year honorees, such as 2007’s Stephen Rosales and 2006’s Bob and Elaine Caldwell, voted on the new recipient and kept their selection secret until the luncheon.

At the podium, gazing up at her husband, Sherry Schubert whispered: “He really deserves it.”

Walt Schubert is well-known as the Sequim City Council member who was mayor during the town’s growth spurt between 2002 and 2007.

He is in his ninth year on the often contentious council, and at age 69 he still runs a business, Action Property Management.

Sherry Schubert, for her part, runs A Catered Affair, a busy Sequim catering company.

Work with teens

The Schuberts loom large, too, in the lives of teenagers in the Dungeness Valley.

The pair are indefatigable supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, including The Club, which provides activities for youth age 13 to 18 at the Sequim unit, 400 W. Fir St.

Sherry said little during her time at the podium; her husband said he asked twice if she wanted to speak, and twice she declined.

She did, however, provide some burlesque sound effects while Walt stripped off his rust sweater to reveal a T-shirt emblazoned with The Club’s logo.

Volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club, he said, has given Sherry and him fresh zest for living.

“You can’t be there and not be passionate about it,” he said.

The teen program has financial challenges — “they’re struggling, but they’re getting through” — so Walt made a plea to the assembled business people. “Look at the Boys & Girls Club when you consider where you’re going to put your dollars,” he said.

Then he offered a tender tribute to his wife of 36 years.

Each time he’s come up with an idea for doing something new, her response was: “Great, let’s go do it.”

She has also said “the first 35 years [of marriage] were the hardest,” Walt added with a smile.

While she has volunteered as a cook at the Salvation Army in Port Angeles and baked fundraising loaves of bread for the Boys & Girls Clubs, he has volunteered as a youth basketball coach and Cub Scout leader.

Walt was the Sequim Association of Realtors’ Realtor of the year in 1999, and has served on the Sequim chamber and Clallam County Economic Development Council boards with real estate broker Mike McAleer — his best friend, he said.

“He gets me involved in things, so I say [to Sherry], ‘Honey, Mike McAleer made me do it.'”

Next Walt saluted Kristal Van Selus, director of teen programs at the Boys & Girls Club.

“Sometimes she’s a kid with the rest of the kids, and other times, she’s Mom,” he said.

Fellow finalists

The Schuberts’ fellow finalists for the Citizen of the Year honor were artist and teacher Judy Priest and Alice Beebe, manager of the Olympic Game Farm and chairwoman of the annual Rotary Club salmon bake and Irrigation Festival Grand Parade.

“When you want something done, you go to Alice,” said Bill Littlejohn, a fellow Rotarian who nominated Beebe.

She volunteers in the Sequim Elks Club kitchen, he added, “and when the work is done, she’s the bingo caller.”

Priest, who’s taught art classes at Peninsula College and continues to guide painters at the Sequim Senior Activity Center, is “the matriarch of artists in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley,” said Layton Carr, a Museum & Arts Center board member.

Priest’s perseverance has ensured that 12 local artists display their work every year at the MAC, he added.

She’s organized the center’s annual Fourth of July celebration and Elegant Flea market, Carr added, “and still finds time to square dance.”

Beebe and Priest received Special Community Service Award plaques while the Schuberts shared the Citizen of the Year plaque.

Rosales relinquished it, but only after issuing some health advice. He recently read in Good Housekeeping magazine that people who volunteer at two or more organizations enjoy a longer life expectancy.

“It’s like exercising four times a week,” he said.

Sara and Brown Maloney, received the Bill & Esther Littlejohn Humanitarian Award at the Sequim Citizen of the Year award luncheon.

Littlejohn, who with his wife, Esther, received the humanitarian award last year for steadfast support of the Olympic Medical Cancer Center and many other community organizations, presented the prize to the Maloneys. Littlejohn marveled at Sara’s abilities, as a relative newcomer, to inspire giving among her neighbors.

“For the Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s Harvest of Hope dinner, she increased revenues 500 percent,” he said, adding that she also personally gathered $250,000 in donations for OMC’s Sequim Cancer Center.

Sara and Brown, an heir to the McClatchy newspaper fortune and owner of the weekly Sequim Gazette and Port Angeles radio station KONP, are major contributors to the OMC Foundation, the United Way of Clallam County, Olympic Theatre Arts, the Peninsula College Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and the Helen Haller Elementary School playground.

Sara served as board president of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and as a volunteer personally befriended the children at the Sequim unit.

“My marriage to Brown brought me here,” she said. Sara was born in Canada and grew up in Bath, England.

She met Brown while he was traveling in Britain; she moved to Sequim when they wed in 2004.

_______

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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