Dave Bekkevar will break tradition this year riding in a convertible instead of his customary logging truck for the Sequim Irrigation Festival.
Bekkevar, 63, was named the 2016 Citizen of the Year by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Feb. 28. He joins a tradition of naming recipients since 1968 starting with Peter Black.
Bekkevar told the packed ballroom in Sunland Golf & Country Club that the award is “quite the honor.”
“This is something that comes along once in a lifetime,” Bekkevar said.
Fellow nominees David and Patsy Mattingley also were named the 2016 Bill and Esther Littlejohn Humanitarian Award recipients.
Other nominees for Citizen of the Year included Deon Kapetan, executive director of the Irrigation Festival, and River Jensen, a 10-year-old who gathered toiletry bags for local homeless. River is the youngest candidate in the award’s history.
A pioneering history
Bekkevar said Judy Reandeau Stipe, executive director of the Sequim Museum, told him over the phone that she nominated him while he was on the road to Spokane to pickup a trailer.
He attributed his success as a businessman and family man to his father, Dick Bekkevar, who he said “got me going in the right direction. He always kept us going.”
He recognized his family members in attendance including his wife of 35 years Trish, father, mother Winona, and sisters Chris and Dorinda, and niece Joy Headley.
Bekkevar is a descendant of two Sequim pioneer families, including the Lotzgesells.
He and Trish keep the farm going that his grandparents Olaf and Anna Bekkevar built in 1910 on the Little Michigan Settlement east of Sequim.
They have three sons, two grandchildren and a third on the way. His two oldest sons currently operate Bekkevar Logging & Trucking, which he started in 1974.
Bekkevar has helped start and continue numerous events and organizations in the community.
He helped start the Irrigation Festival’s logging show 28 years ago with Kevin Kennedy and continues to help operate it with his family.
He’s in good standing with numerous groups, such as the Sequim Elks Naval Lodge, of which he is a charter member, the Sequim Prairie Grange, Sequim Masonic Lodge and the Sequim Valley Lions Club.
One of his many annual charitable activities is the “Log-A-Load for Kids” that raises money for Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“He promotes our history and our future which enhances our economics and our area,” Reandeau Stipe said in her nomination.
“As a tenacious believer in giving to a community that he is a lifelong resident of, I believe, makes him makes him worthy of an award like Citizen of the Year.”
To end his thank you’s, Bekkevar said, “We’re going to keep going and doing what we’ve been doing.”
“We want to make this community as good as we all can,” he said.
David and Patsy Mattingley become the fourth recipients of the Humanitarian Awards through the chamber of commerce. It’s the first award given out since R. Leo Shipley received it in 2012.
Previously, Patsy was runner-up for Citizen of the Year in 2013.
David Mattingley paraphrased a recent interview with Melinda Gates about her humanitarian work saying she sees it as a ripple effect and she likes to see far it goes.
“It’s a ripple effect here,” he said. “We do make this the community that it is.”
In recent years, David served in many roles for many organizations including the Rotary Club of Sequim and as campaign chairman for a Citizens for Sequim Schools’ bond effort in 2014.
He currently serves as the Rotary’s board secretary, Sequim Food Bank secretary, and remains an active member of Citizens for Sequim Schools.
Patsy Mattingley remains an active member of the Sequim City Band and served it in many roles including helping develop the concept and construction of the James Center for the Performing Arts. She too has served many organizations helping organize the Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Fun Walk teams and the Sequim Centennial Committee’s Fourth of July Family Picnic.
Patsy serves as chairman of the City of Sequim Parks & Recreation Board, is a board member of the Sequim Arts Council, governance committee chairman for the Sequim Boys & Girls Club and board secretary and governance and development chairman for the Equine Land Conservation Resource.
The Mattingleys plan to move Annapolis, Md., in the coming months to be near their daughter Jennifer and her family.
A committee of past Citizen of the Year recipients chose the Citizen of the Year finalists and winner.
Committee members said this year’s decision was especially close.
Bill Littlejohn, chairman of the Citizen of the Year committee, stood in as Master of Ceremony for Louie Rychlik, the 2015 Citizen of the Year, who died in August 2016.
Reandeau Stipe said the award “was one of the most important moments of his life besides the birth of his children and grandchildren.”
“It just thrilled him,” she said. “He had never been publicly recognized.”
While not selected, nominees Jensen and Kapetan also were honored.
Jensen, a fifth-grader at Greywolf Elementary, has volunteered at the Salvation Army in Port Angeles with her mother, Anna Jensen, every Christmas Eve since she was 6. Last Christmas she gathered 1,283 toiletry bags for homeless in Sequim and Port Angeles. She plans to collect hats and gloves for the homeless this Christmas.
Kapetan has been involved with the Sequim Irrigation Festival for more than 16 years, took on duties as executive director in 2011 and helped the festival build up its resources.
Since taking on leadership, the all-volunteer event Sequim Irrigation Festival was voted Best Small Town Event by KING 5 “Evening Magazine.” Kapetan has supported number of organizations including Sequim Little League, the Sequim Food Bank, Welfare for Animals Guild and more. The Sequim Irrigation Festival runs May 5-14.
For more information about the Citizen of the Year award, contact the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, 1192 E. Washington St., at 683-6197.