Longtime Sequim Irrigation Festival volunteer Jean Wyatt receives the 2021 Sequim Citizen of the Year honor from Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News and Sequim Gazette, on Tuesday at 7 Cedars Resort. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Longtime Sequim Irrigation Festival volunteer Jean Wyatt receives the 2021 Sequim Citizen of the Year honor from Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News and Sequim Gazette, on Tuesday at 7 Cedars Resort. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

‘Quiet hero’ receives Sequim Citizen of Year award

Wyatt lauded for efforts to bolster Irrigation Festival

SEQUIM — “Volunteering isn’t something I grew up with,” Jean Wyatt said Tuesday, in front of an appreciative audience and the committee members who recently voted her Sequim’s 2021 Citizen of the Year.

Along with Phil Castell and Lorri Gilchrist, Wyatt was named a finalist for the honor bestowed by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce and voted on by past winners.

The Sequim Gazette, sister paper to the Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum, sponsored the event. Terry Ward — publisher of the Gazette, PDN and Forum and vice-president of Sound Publishing Inc. — presented the award to Wyatt, who was lauded for her years of behind-the-scenes work with the Sequim Irrigation Festival.

“The festival has taken me down many roads. It’s been very fulfilling,” she said Tuesday.

Vickie Maples, former executive director for the Sequim chamber, nominated Wyatt for the award.

“Our community has learned so much during this era of COVID,” Maples wrote in her nomination letter. “One of the best lessons is our need to honor the quiet heroes that give so much and receive so little recognition. One such hero in our community is Jean Wyatt.

“As a nominee Jean is ‘responsibility-to-the-community’ personified.”

Wyatt has been active with the Irrigation Festival for several years, joining the board in 2006. She was nominated in 2018 for the chamber’s 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Maples recalled Wyatt being the “conscientious, persistent and understanding taskmaster” tackling the “monumental and thankless” task of updating the chamber’s bylaws, policies and procedures.

In addition to developing operating guidelines, a new marketing plan and revitalizing the festival’s arts and crafts fair, she took on the task of developing, updating and redrafting myriad documents when the festival found it necessary to reorganize as a 501(c)4 some years ago, Maples recalled.

“Only Jean knows the many tasks she has performed for the festival over the years — website development and management, years of treasurer budgets and monthly reports, thousands of letters of correspondence, sponsorship and volunteer plaques, and more,” Maples wrote.

Even after her retirement from the festivals executive board, Wyatt remained an active volunteer, Maples said, supporting and mentoring new board members.

“As someone who has worked with Jean for many years (both in my professional career and as a volunteer) I have admired her dedication and loyalty to the many organizations she has helped,” Maples wrote.

“Jean’s ability to utilize her analytical abilities to discern the most appropriate course of action is priceless, her compassion and understanding of others is admirable, and her dedication to doing the right thing, even if it is a difficult or unpopular course of action, is testimony to her strength of character.

“One of the most inspiring aspects of Jean’s character is her sincere modesty and reluctance to accept praise for her accomplishments.”

Wyatt was nominated for the honor also by Renne Emiko Brock, organizer of several local art programs.

“Jean Wyatt is a committed volunteer who will work hard until the whole job is a success. She will tackle spreadsheets, design programs, roll up her sleeves to haul heavy weights, and so much more,” Brock wrote.

Lynn Horton, Sequim Irrigation Festival Royalty director and royalty pageant co-director, as well as Shellie Torrence, co-director of the Sequim Logging Show and an Irrigation Festival executive board member, urged the chamber to honor Wyatt with the Citizen of the Year award.

“Jean has been instrumental in the festival since she joined,” Horton wrote. “She jumped into the helping the festival with both feet and has become one of the most vital part of the festival … She has put thousands of hours in helping the festival be a vital part of our community. She has done this all without the community really knowing her at all.”

Castell, a local business owner, was selected for his dedication and time given to local organizations such as the Masonic Food Bank, Sequim Prairie Grange, Sequim Irrigation Festival and more. Heather Souza of Sound Community Bank nominated Castell.

Known by many as a proud military veteran and champion of veteran concerns, Gilchrist was nominated for her years of community service to a diverse array of local organizations. Her work for the Peninsula Trails Coalition, Dungeness River Center, Humane Society, and others was cited in her nomination. She was nominated by Gretha Davis.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

More in News

Port Angeles School Superintendent Marty Brewer, second from right, speaks with members of the Port Angeles Parents for Education, on Friday about the Port Angeles Paraeducation Association strike. Assistant Superintendent Michele Olsen stands at right. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
District, PAPEA to pick up bargaining Sunday

Parent group presses officials for answers on strike

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Retired teacher Nancy McCaleb speaks in support of striking paraeducators in the Port Angeles School District as Port Angeles Paraeducators Association President Rebecca Winters listens during a rally on Thursday at Shane Park.
About 130 rally in support of paras

District officials say funding is statewide problem

Mark Nichols.
Proposed changes to public defender caseloads could hurt rural counties

Annual limits starting in 2025 may create staffing issues

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific, cleans off a sign he used to paint a bicycle lane on Sims Way and Kearney Street, the site of the new roundabout. The workers needed at least two days of 47 degrees or above in order to paint the pedestrian crosswalks and other necessary markings. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
New bike lane in Port Townsend

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific,… Continue reading

Two-lane bypass to be installed Monday

Contractor crews working for the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Twice daily bridge inspections start next week

Bridge preservation engineers from the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Funding farm-to-school programs

In the 2021-2023 state budget, Washington set aside money specifically for the… Continue reading

Gus Griffin, 11, second from left, and classmates dig up weeds in one of Port Townsend’s three gardens on March 28. (Grace Deng/Washington State Standard)
Farm-to-school programs flourish in Washington

Demand from school districts outpacing state funding

Jefferson enacts 1-year moratorium on STRs

County wants to consider possible regulations for rentals

Pickets in support of paraeducators in the Port Angeles School District march along West Eighth Street in front of the district offices at Lincoln Center on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Strike enters Day 4

Paraeducators, district continue to bargain