Cliff Vining is posthumous pick for Sequim’s Citizen of Year

Sequim Food Bank volunteer gone but well recognized, remembered

Despite his absence, community members gathered to both honor and give respect to Cliff Vining as the 2014 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award winner.

Vining died at 93 years old, just days prior to the luncheon, and was among four award finalists, David Blakeslee, Melissa Murray and Judy Reandeau Stipe – all nominated for their contributions toward the betterment of the community.

“I’m thrilled it went to Cliff,” Reandeau Stipe said following the announcement at the luncheon, Feb. 24. “He’s the one example we should all follow.”

Shortly before his death, Vining told Gazette staff to be nominated was “quite an honor,” but he wasn’t one to seek recognition for his years of volunteerism.

“Cliff did volunteer work because he wanted to do it, not for the honor,” Esther Nelson, a past Citizen of the Year, said.

Vining was nominated as Citizen of the Year once before, but wouldn’t accept the award, Stephen Rosales, Sequim Food Bank board president, told those attending the luncheon. Only after convincing from Rosales did Vining agree to accept the second nomination.

“He knew it would bring positive light to the food bank and that’s the only reason he decided to accept,” Rosales said. “A big light went out in Sequim. The food bank wouldn’t be what it is today without Cliff Vining.”

In recognition of the decades Vining devoted to the Sequim Food Bank, the organization’s Executive Director Mark Ozias nominated the honorary pioneer for the Sequim Citizen of the Year Award.

Vining spent several hours, nearly everyday of the week at the food bank for 30 years, Ozias said.

“It’s incomprehensible to think just how many people’s lives he impacted over the years,” he said. “His legacy is built on helping one individual person at a time.”

Ozias explained the timeless lessons he learned from both working with and watching Vining at the food bank. First, Ozias endearingly coined the way Vining would move while relocating large crates of food as the “Cliff Shuffle,” but it reminded him to always “take small steps.”

“There is not a mountain or goal that can’t be achieved if you have the patience,” Ozias said.

Secondly, Ozias was reminded by Vining that to “serve others is the best reason to wake up every morning.”

Given Vining’s dedication to stay active in his community even into his 90s, Ozias was continually reminded by Vining’s presence to “just keep moving.”

“Determination to just keep moving allowed him (Vining) to move mountains of food at the food bank, but it could have been anything,” he said.

Because Vining didn’t say much about his ongoing volunteer work, he also was a constant reminder that “actions speak louder than words,” Ozias said. Lastly, Vining reminded Ozias and all those around him the importance of to simply “have fun.”

“He was just that kind of person … hard-working with a kind heart,” Vining’s nephew, Ray Vining, said.

Vining grew up in Sequim and graduated from Sequim High School in 1939, but moved to Grandview in the early 1940s to help his father with their farm.

Following a variety of careers within the dairy industry, Vining farmed grapes and asparagus and eventually sold and repaired radios and televisions at his store, Cliff’s TV.

“Always having in mind a desire to return to Sequim, with the sale of the vineyards we took the opportunity and moved to Sequim in 1982,” Vining wrote in “Sequim Pioneer Family Histories From: 1850-World War II.”

With his wife, Bette Lou King, Vining left Grandview nearly 40 years later bound for Sequim where the couple enjoyed retirement together until Bette died in 2005 after 57 years of marriage.

“I love Sequim … especially the weather and the beauty,” Vining said only a few days before his death.

The 2014 Citizen of the Year Award engraved to Vining is to be mounted on the wall in the Sequim Food Bank as a quiet reminder of his tireless and forever appreciated community support.


Reach Alana Linderoth at

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s       Citizens of the Year

1968 — Peter Black

1969 — Carl Klint

1970 — Virginia Keeting

1971 — Virginia Peterson

1972 — Tom Groat

1973 — None

1974 — Katie & Bill Merrill

1975 — Jerry Angiuli

1976 — Chuck Southern, Howard Wood, Lorna McInnes

1977 — Nellie Tetrude

1978 — Marcia Welch

1979 — Ruby Trotter

1980 — Iris Marshall

1981 — Howard Herrett

1982 — Guy Shephard

1983 — Don & Vivian Swanson

1984 — Bill & Shirley Keeler

1985 — Ed & Marcia Beggs

1986 — Ruby Mantle

1987 — Jeff Shold

1988 — Annette Kuss

1989 — Jim Haynes

1990 — Bill & Judy Rowland

1991 — Nina Fatherson

1992 — Bud Knapp

1993 — Paul Higgins

1994 — Rand Thomas

1995 — Rochelle McHugh

1996 — Esther Nelson

1997 — Annette Hansen

1998 — Jim & Cathy Carl

1999 — Bill Fatherson

2000 — Robert Clark

2001 — Don Knapp

2002 — Gil Oldenkamp

2003 — John Beitzel

2004 — Emily Westcott

2005 — Lee Lawrence

2006 — Bob & Elaine Caldwell

2007 — Stephen Rosales

2008 — Walt & Sherry Schubert

2009 — Tom Schaafsma

2010 — Jim Pickett

2011 — Dick Hughes

2012 — Kevin Kennedy

2013 — Gary Smith

2014 — Cliff Vining