Past Recipients: 2010-2023



KENNEWICK, Wash. — Former PNNL Laboratory Director Lura Powell has been named the 51st Tri-Citian of the Year, by the Tri-Cities Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs.


Powell moved to the Tri-Cities in 2000 and said she never planned staying longer than three to five years.


Twenty-three years later, Powell has become a well-known community member, who’s been involved in several organizations to better the community as a whole.

Tri-Citian of the Year nominees must meet a number of traits; most importantly though, is putting service above themselves.


After retiring from PNNL in the early 2000’s, Powell was appointed to the WSU Board of Regents, Washington Redistricting Committee, and Washington State Life Science Discovery Fund Authority.


Powell helped get cutting-edge technology to PNNL when she was a part of the Washington State Life Science Discovery Fund Authority.


In recent years, Powell has dove into her passion of helping women achieve their dreams, and raising human trafficking awareness.

Powell is a part of the Soroptimist International of Pasco-Kennewick, where she helps young women achieve their education dreams, and access to economic empowerment.


In addition to her 13 year membership with the Soroptimist International, Powell helped formed the Tri-Cities Coalition Against Trafficking or TC CAT.


This group has brought together at least one representative from each Tri-Cities agency that handles human trafficking cases.


Through her grant writing skills, Powell has secured thousands of dollars to fight human trafficking in the region.


When she’s not volunteering, Powell told KAPP KVEW she enjoys playing golf, traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.


This year’s Tri-Citian of the Year is Mark Brault, Chief Executive Officer of Grace Clinic, who received the award on May 3 at the Three Rivers Convention Center. Each year, the award goes to someone who demonstrates exceptional community service.

Grace Clinic is the second largest free clinic in Washington. It provides health care to those without insurance in Benton and Franklin counties. According to the event chair, Brault led the clinic’s transition from a volunteer space to a stand-alone clinic that provides dental and mental health care on top of basic medical care. He also coordinated with local hospitals to get medical residents at the clinic, keeping it open longer. He’s credited with raising approximately $600,000 each year through the clinic.

“Mark has served the community for the past 45 years helping organizations and people in ways not often visible,” said his nomination. “His vision and leadership have made a major contribution to the well-being of our community’s population, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder.”

Brault is a retired certified public accountant with countless community affiliations. Just some of the organizations he’s been a part of are the Columbia Basin Non-Profit Association, Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties board, Columbia Industries board, Benton Franklin Community Health Alliance board, the Two Rivers Health District of the Kennewick Public Hospital District and even more.

“Mark’s skills include compassion, innovation and creativity in making suggestions and improving operations,” said one of Brault’s nominators. “He is analytical in his quest to understand community and organization problems and develop solutions, personable in interactions with others, and calm in the approach to issues and discussions.”

Brault and his wife also host family dinner each week, serving 39 family members. He is also treasurer on the finance committee for Hillspring Church, where Christmas gifts are provided for local prisoners each year.


Wendy Culverwell,
May 2, 2019, Tri-City Herald


Dave Retter knows a good idea when he hears one.


And that’s what happened over breakfast with friends in 2015.


The Tri-City real estate executive was with friends, including Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, when the conversation turned to a novel idea out of San Diego.


An officer had created a fund to help people after he reached into his own pocket to buy lunch for a hungry child.


Like teachers, cops often spend their own money to help people in crisis. A lunch for a hungry kid and then a pair of shoes for a traumatized child can add up. And big needs are beyond the means of most cops.


Retter, Hohenberg and their friends thought it sounded like something that could — and should — happen in Kennewick.


Retter turned to his network of business buddies and raised $13,000. With that, the Kennewick Police Foundation launched the Kennewick Police Community Cares Fund.


Police officers now have access to credit cards to pay for minor expenses to help out people in need.


The fund takes on big challenges too, like replacing a broken down vehicle for a family that needed reliable transportation for a disabled child, contributing to a funeral, covering car repair bills or paying for a homeless man to stay in a hotel for a few nights.


It has since expanded to neighboring police departments thanks in part to Retter’s continuing support and personal contributions.


It’s one of the countless ways Retter, president and owner of Retter & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty, has supported the community, say his supporters.


For his wide-ranging philanthropic efforts, Retter was named Tri-Citian of the Year, the community’s top civic honor, at a banquet Thursday night at the Three Rivers Convention Center.


The award is jointly presented by Rotary International and Kiwanis International to the Mid-Columbian who best exemplifies service above self.


Not surprisingly, Retter was nominated by Chief Hohenberg, the 2009 Tri-Citian of the Year.

Volunteering for Tri-Cities Agencies

Hohenberg estimates Retter’s personal philanthropy has topped more than $1 million.


But it’s the personal touch that helps the most, he wrote.


Catholic Family Services, Elijah House, Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton & Franklin County, Hospice, Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery and others have benefited from Retter’s generosity, Hohenberg said.


“It is obvious that he contributes his personal time and energy as well as financial support to improve our community,” Hohenberg wrote.


Retter is a well-known Tri-City real estate executive.


He formed the business that would become Windermere Tri-Cities with partner Harold Thompson in October 1992.


The firm would grow to dominate the residential market. In 2016, Retter affiliated with Sotheby’s International, saying the global brand would better serve a growing, prospering community.


He has supported the Community Action Committee’s efforts to provide a day care center for homeless families to help them start over.


He was a hands-on supporter of the effort to complete the Cooper Larson baseball field at the Kennewick American Youth Baseball, lending a hand at car washes and other events in addition to donating money.


In 2014, during his company’s annual spring day of service, agents reported to the ball fields to power wash the facility, repairing facilities and the landscape.

2018 - DON PRATT

Tri-City Herald, May 3, 2018
by: Wendy Culverwell

It would have been understandable if the 2018 Tri-Citian of the Year missed his own awards ceremony Thursday.

Don Pratt, entrepreneur, volunteer and philanthropist, is a very busy Tri-Citian, who, by tradition, didn’t know he was the guest of honor.

For his vast and varied contributions to the community, Pratt received the Mid-Columbia’s top civic honor at a banquet headlined by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.


Mattis, a Richland native, also is speaking Saturday at a sold-out event at Columbia Basin College. His remarks Thursday night came too late for press time, but visit the Tri-City Herald or the Herald’s Facebook page for more about his comments.

Rotary International and Kiwanis International jointly present the annual award to a leader who matches professional success with civic activism.


Pratt does that in spades, according to Linda Moran, who nominated him.

“I have been brought to tears when speaking to individuals who have been the recipients of his compassion and benevolence. To the point that I am ashamed at not having nominated him long ago,” Moran wrote.


The Tri-Citian of the Year is a closely guarded secret until the winner is revealed at the banquet.

This year’s event at Three Rivers Convention Center was no different. Twenty-five of Pratt’s nearest and dearest relations waited excitedly in a private room until the big reveal before the sold-out crowd of nearly 900.

Pratt, 65, graduated from Kennewick High School in 1971 and runs a prominent business, Don Pratt Construction, a commercial and residential building firm. In his “spare” time, he keeps enough civic commitments to put mere mortals to shame.


Moran described Pratt as a servant leader, humanitarian, teacher, philanthropist and role model who has contributed to many causes through his association with Kennewick’s Sunrise Rotary.

He joined the service organization in the late 90s after attending a gathering to pitch Project IRIS, which equipped local fire stations with thermal imaging equipment. The connection fueled decades of involvement in a variety of Rotary projects.

He is a tireless cheerleader for its Mid-Columbia Duck Race and accompanied fellow Rotarians on medical missions to Ethiopia, where he supported surgeons treating cataract patients. He has assembled and installed children’s playground equipment in Richland parks and helped create the hiking trails on Badger Mountain.

The See3Slam Basketball tournament benefits from his organizational help — so do the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, Tri-Tech Skills Center, United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties, Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery, Habitat for Humanity and his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In 2009, he took on a rare, high-profile effort when he heard the story of Ronny Coleman, the athletic director of Kennewick High School, who was paralyzed by an illness. Pratt and his team arranged to build a ramp at Coleman’s house.

Pratt regularly carves out a day each week to deliver meals to the elderly for Meals on Wheels. The partnership began when a Meals on Wheels representative shared the organization’s mission with his Rotary club. The visitor mentioned that there was an unserved area because of the distance. Pratt told him to “consider it done,” making it a regular part of his week.


Moran also said Pratt coordinated the Home Builders Association’s annual “Blitz Build” for Habitat for Humanity. At the dedication, organizers wanted to recognize him for the week he’d spent working on the house. But Pratt was busy helping at another house, avoiding the limelight.

“While Don may try to blend in with the crowd and go unnoticed, his actions and service to the community certainly cause him to stand out,” Moran wrote.

Tri-Citian of the Year couldn’t dodge the limelight any longer

May 06, 2018 05:07 AM

Former Tri-Citian of the Year dies on Badger Mountain hike

April 9, 2020


Philanthropist, businessman and former Tri-Citian of the Year Don Pratt died while hiking Badger Mountain on Tuesday.


Pratt was talking his daily hike when he reportedly started having trouble breathing at 6:25 a.m.


Benton County Fire District 1 and Richland medics raced to the scene and called in an air ambulance to help.


The Life Flight helicopter made a rare and highly visible landing on the mountain, but Pratt, 66, died on the 1,600-foot hill, according to reports from police, dispatch reports and Coroner Bill Leach.


The helicopter was spotted by dozens of people living in the area and who were out walking on the popular hiking trails.


A Kennewick High School graduate, Pratt ran a respected commercial and residential building company, Don Pratt Construction.


He lent that construction experience to several community projects which may have never happened if he hadn’t volunteered his time.


This included leading a group in 2005 to install a new heating and air conditioning system at the Burbank senior center, and helped convert part of the former Finley elementary school into a community meeting room.


One of the beneficiaries of his volunteer work was the Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels.


The organization mourned his passing on its Facebook page Tuesday. He spent 19 years volunteering, first delivering meals with his dad, and then continuing after his father died.


He helped the organization build its new central kitchen, cafe and administration buildings.


“Don was a generous, kind and humble man who truly lived our principle of putting the needs of others before his own,” the Meals on Wheels post said. “Our thoughts and prayers go our to his family and friends. His passing is a huge loss for our community.”


This was just a small part of the volunteer work that earned Pratt the 2018 Tri-Citian of the Year award.


Rotary International and Kiwanis International present the award each year to a person with both professional success and civic activism.


After hearing the stories of people touched by Pratt’s generosity, Linda Moran, who nominated him, told the Herald she was brought to tears.


She described Pratt as a servant leader, humanitarian, teacher, philanthropist and role model who contributed to many causes through Kennewick’s Sunrise Rotary.


He joined Rotary in the late 90s after going to a meeting about Project IRIS, which sent thermal imaging equipment to local fire stations.


He was a tireless cheerleader for the Mid-Columbia Duck Race and traveled to Ethopia with fellow Rotarians on medical missions.


His efforts also brought playground equipment to Richland and helped create hiking trails on Badger Mountain.


The See3Slam Basketball tournament benefited from his help, as well as the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, Tri-Tech Skills Center, United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties, Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery, Habitat for Humanity and his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Kennewick restaurateurs named Tri-Citians of the Year

When the Pasco Senior Center was put up for sale, Senior Life Resources needed a place to cook the thousands meals delivered weekly to homebound Tri-Citians.


Steve and Shirley Simmons, the owners of C.G. Public House, stepped up.


“Not only did they open their doors to help Meals on Wheels, Steve has helped spearhead fundraising to help Meals on Wheels purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars in kitchen equipment,” said Kathy Balcom, a Tri-City advertising executive.


But that is just one of the countless examples of the Kennewick couple’s service to the community that earned them the title Thursday night of 2017 Tri-Citian of the Year.


Balcom, along with Kris Watkins of Visit Tri-Cities and fellow restaurant owner Don Karger, nominated the pair for the region’s top civic honor.

“Steve and Shirley provide continual community support quietly, without any expectation of credit,” Balcom wrote. “They contribute because they genuinely care about this community and making it a better place to call home.”


Steve and Shirley provide continual community support quietly, without any expectation of credit. They contribute because they genuinely care about this community and making it a better place to call home.


Kathy Balcom, nominator


Karger and Balcom specifically singled out the couple’s work helping Meals on Wheels while a new facility was built in Richland.


“If not for them … this program would not have had the ability to feed the hundreds of people that are nourished daily,” Karger said in his nomination letter.


The two dedicated time, resources and service to more than 45 local organizations, including the Reach center, the Richland Public Facilities District, the Carousel of Dreams, Kids Haven, United Way and the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.


In 2015, they provided Christmas dinner for families spending the holiday in Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit.


“Steve and his family set aside a few hours of their Christmas plans to honor the commitment made to the March of Dimes,” Balcom wrote.


The nominators said they exemplify community service to their family, employees, patrons and the community.


They truly understand the needs of the community and the sacrifice it takes to make it work.


Don Karger, nominator


Steve Simmons spent years working for Firestone Tire and Service Centers, while Shirley Simmons was a partner in the Country Gentleman restaurant. In 2002, he joined her in the restaurant business. The recently renamed it C.G. Public House. The couple has four grown children.


As business owners, they became active members of Visit Tri-Cities. Steve began serving on the organization’s board of directors in 2015 and worked to advance the tourism industry, wrote Watkins.


“Steve and Shirley Simmons are an incredible team. I recently heard Shirley say, ‘Steve is the meeting-bee and I am the worker-bee,’ wrote Watkins.


“They truly understand the needs of the community and the sacrifice it takes to make it work,” wrote Karger. “I cannot think of two individuals who dedicate more of their time and resources back to the community than these two, while also instilling the importance of community support with their employees and children.”

Dynamic Duo are Tri-Citians of the Year

Tri-City Herald Editorial
April 30, 2017
The Tri-Cities has its own dynamic duo — a powerful pair who over the years, in their own quiet way, have fed the needy, encouraged the young, boosted community spirit and even saved a valuable program for the elderly.

Tri-City Herald, April 21, 2016
by Wendy Culverwell


There was a measure of irony in the air Thursday night when Columbia Center manager Barbara Johnson was named the 2016 Tri-Citian of the Year.


In keeping with tradition, the Tri-Citian of the Year’s identity remained secret until it was announced. Even the nominee herself was in the dark until then. That’s no small feat considering Johnson chaired the Tri-Citian of the Year program until 2014.


The Tri-Citian of the Year is the region’s top civic honor, given for exceptional contributions to the community. Johnson has lent her support to a long list of civic groups.


Johnson, who lives in Richland, has been intimately involved with the Kennewick’s convention center complex since 2000, when she joined the fledgling Kennewick Public Facilities District board.


She oversaw financing, design and construction of the $20 million center. As the district’s current chairwoman, she is leading a campaign to convince voters to approve a two-tenths of a percent sales tax increase to finance a $35 million expansion and new performing arts center dubbed “The Link.”


Voters rejected a different, earlier expansion pitch in 2012.


Johnson spent the intervening years leading efforts to develop a plan the community can get behind. That includes coordinating with the Port of Kennewick on the Vista Field redevelopment to ensure the neighboring projects are complementary.


Johnson was nominated by Ron Hue, the 2012 Tri-Citian of the Year winner and his wife Joan, along with Sondra Wilson.


The nomination was supported by several past winners, including Mike Schwenk (2008) and Fran Forgette (2001) and leaders of Visit Tri-Cities, Friends of Badger Mountain, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Fields of Grace and the Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC.


She is an active member of Columbia Center Rotary and the TRIDEC board. She is past chairwoman of United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties, has volunteered with the regional chamber, visitor bureau and supported Friends of Badger Mountain.


Between 2010 and 2014, she chaired the Tri-Citian of the Year program. And, together with her husband Wayne, regularly organizes an annual dinner to raise money to support food drives.


“We nominators are literally in awe of Barbara Johnson,” the nomination says. “With her very demanding management profession and her devotion to her family, we wonder where she finds the personal time to donate to so many Tri-City projects and organizations.”


In 2012, Soroptimist International of Pasco-Kennewick named Johnson its 2011 Kennewick Woman of the Year alongside Man of the Year Dennis Poland, president of Ray Poland and Sons, a general contractor.She and Poland were lauded as the kinds of tireless workers who get the job done but who often “fly beneath the radar when it comes to public recognition.”


At the time, she declared, “I love this community. I love the fact that we all work together as a wonderful team to do so many things.”


The Tri-Citian of the Year award began as an initiative of the Tri-City Herald in 1962. It has operated as a community function since 1981 with sponsorship by the area’s Rotary clubs.


Johnson is the 47th honoree.


Recent winners include former Fluor executive John Umbarger in 2010, Port of Kennewick Commissioner Skip Novakovich in 2011, HAPO Community Credit Union executive Ron Hue in 2012, attorney Allen Brecke in 2013, Sun Pacific Energy president Craig Eerkes in 2014 and Caldwell Laboratories founders Priscilla and John Caldwell in 2015.

The Tri-Citian of the Year award is the highest honor our community bestows. Those who receive this distinction are an example of unselfish drive and commitment to the Tri-Cities.


Her civic involvement over the years shows a particular devotion to economic development and bringing new amenities to the Tri-Cities. In addition, she also has been a champion for a slew of charitable organizations that help the less fortunate in the community.


Johnson is manager at Columbia Center mall — a demanding and time-consuming job, to be sure. Yet she somehow has found a way to lead and participate in a number of civic organizations. The list is long.


Currently, she is the president of the Kennewick Public Facilities Board and is an active member of the Columbia Center Rotary and the Tri-City Development Council. She also has been involved with the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Visit Tri-Cities and is a past chairwoman for United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties.


She was nominated by Ron Hue, the 2012 Tri-Citian of the Year winner and his wife, Joan, along with Sondra Wilson. The nomination was backed by several letters of support by community leaders and past Tri-Citian of the Year award recipients.


The Tri-Citian of the Year award was started by the Tri-City Herald in 1962 as a way to honor people who contributed to the growth and development of the community. It has since become a joint project of the Rotary clubs in the area.


Johnson’s organizational skills are apparently well known among those who conduct fund-raising events, and the nomination form noted that she frequently is called upon to help raise money for charity.


This has included events that benefited Domestic Violence Services, March of Dimes and the effort to make the Carousel of Dreams a reality. In addition, Johnson donates her time to young women at Washington State University Tri-Cities, and counsels them on appropriate business attire, how to prepare for a job interview and act professionally in the work force.


She and her husband, Wayne, also open up their home every year and sponsor a dinner to raise money for local food drives. The couple are supporters of Tri-Cities Prep High School, the Boys and Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties and Catholic Family Services.


And this isn’t all. There are other organizations and community events that, over the years, have benefited from Johnson’s expertise. In 2012, Soroptimist International of Pasco-Kennewick named Johnson its 2011 Kennewick Woman of the Year.


On a note of irony, she was the chairwoman for the Tri-Citian of the Year award from 2010-14, and according to her supporters, there were times she almost single-handedly made the event possible. She handled corporate sponsorships, reservations, table assignments, coordinated the speakers and managed the application process.


It is fitting, then, that someone who spent so much of her time helping to recognize others has now been honored herself.


Tri-City Herald, April 30, 2015
By Sara Schilling


Back when Dr. John and Priscilla Cadwell first were married, Priscilla asked her husband about his life goals.


He noted that he shared the same initials as a man — Jesus Christ— dedicated to curing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, helping the lame to walk again and spreading the gospel.


And he wanted to do the same.


For decades, John and Priscilla Cadwell have done just that, using their influence and resources to support a vast range of causes and groups in the Tri-Cities and beyond.


On Thursday, the Richland couple was named 2015 Tri-Citian of the Year — praised for their dedication and commitment to the community and their many good works.


“They are the ultimate team,” said Craig Eerkes, last year’s winner. “Their children describe them as movers and shakers, teachers and mentors, dreamers and doers. … (My wife) and I are honored to call them our friends.”


The Cadwells accepted the award to a standing ovation from the crowd of hundreds at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.


The Tri-Citian of the Year winner is a closely guarded secret, kept even from the recipient or recipients until the announcement during the ceremony.


The Cadwells seemed shocked, but happy Thursday as they took the stage.


“Wow. This is so over the top,” John Cadwell said.


He talked about his love for his children and grandchildren — and for his wife.


“This is a young lady who has loved me, who has helped me, supported me, nursed me back to health, who has dragged me through tough times,” John said. “Anybody who knows me and knows Priscilla knows I wouldn’t be here without (her).”


Priscilla also talked about her love for her family.


And she praised the Tri-City community.


“I have been blessed by the generosity of this community, blessed by the spirit of this community,” she said. “What a local community. What amazing servants’ hearts this community has. We are blessed to be part of this. We are totally honored and definitely surprised and humbled by this. I hope we can live up to whatever expectations lay ahead.”


John formed Cadwell Laboratories with his brother, Carl, in 1979. Over the years, John and Priscilla have supported groups ranging from Academy of Children’s Theatre and The Chaplaincy to Friends of Badger Mountain and Women Helping Women.


They’ve funded construction of local Habitat for Humanity homes, sponsored rooms in Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s pediatrics center and neonatal intensive care unit, and established multiple scholarships.


They built and donated the Cadwell Student Center at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, a medical school in Yakima. John volunteered his time and business expertise to help the school, and Priscilla serves on the university’s regional advisory cabinet and is part of its foundation board.


Last summer, Trios Health kicked off a public fundraising campaign for advanced medical equipment for its new Trios Southridge Hospital.


John and Priscilla announced they were contributing $1 million.


“John and I are proud to stand beside you as fellow villagers, raising up our community’s access to medical care with state-of-the-art equipment,” Priscilla said during a campaign announcement event. The donation is “our way of giving back to a community that’s given us so much, especially a wonderful village in which to raise our family.”


The Cadwells were among six candidates for this year’s Tri-Citian of the Year. While it’s not unprecedented for multiple recipients to share the award, it is unusual.


The last time it happened was in 2004, when Drs. Lewis and Sara Zirkle were jointly named.


The Cadwells were nominated by friend Joyce Goldsmith and Cherami Freeman, one of their five children.


“Their commitment to philanthropy and leadership spreads far and wide but emphasizes local advancement in education, science, health, community and church,” the women wrote.


Goldsmith and Freeman mentioned the conversation John and Priscilla had early in their marriage about life goals.


“Together, John and Priscilla Cadwell have manifested those goals in meaningful, personal ways throughout their community and family,” they wrote.

Tri-City Herald,Sunday, May 3, 2015


Every spring when the Tri-Citian of the Year award is presented, it provides another opportunity to realize just how generous and dedicated people can be.


This year is no different.


The honor for 2015 goes to a husband and wife team who surpass the Rotary Club motto of “service above self.” They have been a dynamic force in the community for decades and together possess that wonderful combination of energetic spirit and thoughtful heart.


They are John and Priscilla Cadwell.


They received the award Thursday before a crowd of hundreds at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick and seemed genuinely taken by surprise. The Tri-Citian of the Year is a well-kept secret by the Tri-City Rotary Clubs that sponsor the event and this marks the 45th time the honor has been bestowed.


The Cadwells have helped others in big and small ways throughout their lives in the Tri-Cities, which began in 1979 when John moved his medical equipment company from Seattle to Kennewick. Cadwell Laboratories employs more than 100 people, including high school students and college interns and is recognized internationally.


John and Priscilla raised five children and participated in the traditional activities that parents often find themselves wrapped up in, such as Boy Scouts, the Richland PTO, Mid-Columbia Science Fair and other school- and church-related organizations and events, including helping with the Sausage Fest at Christ the King.


But beyond school, church and family, the Cadwells also have made significant contributions throughout the Mid-Columbia. When Trios Health kicked off a public fund-raising campaign last summer for advanced medical equipment at its new hospital, the Cadwells pledged $1 million. Priscilla has been involved with Trios Health since 2005 and has been heavily involved in the Trios Hospital Foundation. She also served on the board of Catholic Family & Child Services for several years.


The couple sponsor a hospital room in the pediatric ward and in the new neonatal intensive care unit at Kadlec Regional Medical Center. They also built and donated the Cadwell Student Center to the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, which provides an education for medical students in Eastern Washington.


College scholarships have been established in their name and they routinely support a whole host of community organizations such as the Academy of Children’s Theatre, Habitat for Humanity, Friends of Badger Mountain, Grace Clinic, the American Red Cross, Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery and many, many others.


The selection criteria for the Tri-Citian of the Year award says, “The Tri-Citian of the Year … contributes to positive community development and economic impact, causes broad positive impact to people, and improved quality of life in the Tri-Cities.”


The Cadwells fit that standard perfectly.


Tri-Citian of the Year Craig Eerkes says he is ‘humbled and honored’

Tri-City Herald, April 9, 2014


A Kennewick business leader and tireless philanthropist was humbled to find himself in the spotlight Saturday as he was named 2014 Tri-Citian of the Year.


Craig Eerkes was at a loss for words after being singled out for his passion and commitment to his longtime home.


“Oh, boy … I’m extremely humbled and honored to be a part of a very great group of people,” he said while receiving the Tri-Cities’ highest honor during the annual banquet at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.


He was surrounded by many admirers, including loved ones who helped keep the award secret until his name was revealed before a room full of Mid-Columbia movers and shakers.


The event’s keynote speaker was Sgt. Keni Thomas, an Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient whose story was featured in Black Hawk Down.


Eerkes is president of Sun Pacific Energy, a West Canal Drive fuel company. He used to own the SunMarts until two years ago, when he sold 27 stores in Eastern Washington to Circle K Stores.


Eerkes and his wife, Marilee, live in Kennewick.


“This really should be a joint award in that she is a driving force behind a lot of this, and she just sticks me out front,” Eerkes said.


His current project is working with other business leaders and community partners to explore the idea of a new Boys & Girls Clubs facility in downtown Kennewick.


“One may define Craig as somewhat reserved,” said Coke Roth, a Kennewick attorney and 1987 Tri-Citian of the Year. “However, with projects of this nature that he has worked on over the years, he is not afraid to drag friends and relatives along on something he so deeply believes in.”


The Tri-Citian of the Year award is given annually to a person who demonstrates “outstanding leadership and contribution to positive development, economic growth and quality of life in the Tri-Cities.”


The volunteer judges had 10 nominees to consider this year.


Mary and Coke Roth said they nominated Eerkes because he “has the right stuff to be this year’s recipient.”


The couple said a person deserving of the title should have a commitment to leadership, as well as a hand in vocational, avocational, spiritual and community aspects of the Tri-Cities.


“This ubiquitous involvement should involve not only giving personal time until it hurts,” but also soliciting and motivating others to give of human and monetary resources until they hurt, the Roths’ nomination letter said.


“A Tri-Citian of the Year should be … working madly on short-term projects as well as showing a long-term commitment to perpetual efforts,” the letter said. They “oftentimes will never get any ink, air time or megabytes recognizing his or her efforts, but rather, silently serve, above self, in almost anonymous fashion.”


Eerkes was the 2007 Kennewick Man of the Year, and was named to the halls of fame for the Western Petroleum Marketers of America in 2005 and the Petroleum Marketers Association of America in 2013.


His lengthy rsum lists numerous boards, organizations and causes, including: United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties and its Alexis de Tocqueville Society; the Boy Scouts; the Tri-Cities Children’s Developmental Center; Tri-Cities Prep; March of Dimes; Women Helping Women; the Carson Kolzig Foundation; and numerous food banks and youth sports teams.


Eerkes also is a major supporter of the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation and helped develop the “Read to Lead” breakfast fundraiser. He is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Kennewick.


Craig and Marilee Eerkes, along with son Chris, organize the annual Eerkes Memorial Golf Classic, which benefits the Boys & Girls Club and Young Life in the Tri-Cities. The tournament is a tribute to the couple’s daughter, Laura, who died in a car crash at the age of 16.


Craig Eerkes has signed on as honorary co-chairman of a citizens campaign committee for the sales tax increase on the August ballot, saying businesses thrive when crime and gangs are suppressed.


“Craig understands that his good fortune only became possible, and can only be possible in the future,” the Roths’ letter said, “through spreading his personal and business resources throughout layers of human classes — sometimes to the less fortunate, and sometimes just creating fun and opportunity for all.”


— Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531;


Allen Brecke named Tri-Citian of the Year

KENNEWICK — Longtime Tri-City attorney Allen Brecke was given the Tri-Cities’ highest honor Saturday night for his charitable work, often done quietly behind the scenes.The Tri-Citian of the Year award is given annually to a person who demonstrates “outstanding leadership and contribution to positive development, economic growth and quality of life in the Tri-Cities.””I’m speechless,” Brecke said. “I’ve admired this event for 25 years.”

As the photos of past winners flashed on screens flanking the podium, Brecke said it was an honor to be among them.


Brecke, who was surprised with the honor at a banquet at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, has provided leadership — and often generous donations — to support the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, Kennewick General Hospital, Red Cross and United Way, among other organizations.


His white BMW convertible was raffled to provide the seed money to help start Domestic Violence Services of Benton-Franklin Counties and he also provided office staff time and equipment. He’s been a supporter since, according to his nomination by Mary and Coke Roth.


At his recent 60th birthday party, Brecke raised money for the Red Cross of Benton Franklin County and the Tri-Cities Food Bank, one of many fundraisers he has held at his home.


He has been co-chairman of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee for the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center for more than four years, helping make the recent decision to downsize and revamp the design, which has allowed the project to move forward. He’s pledged $50,000 of his own money to the project, and has been instrumental in getting the Columbia Center Rotary to pledge $300,000 to the center.


He’s been a member of the Columbia Center Rotary since 1985, including serving as president and on the group’s charity board.


In 2012, he worked behind the scenes with the governor’s office and Sen. Mike Hewitt’s office to keep the construction of a new Kennewick General Hospital in the Southridge area on schedule, preventing a costly slowdown, according to his nomination for Tri-Citian of the Year.


He served on the hospital’s board for seven years and has helped the KGH Foundation Gala Devine by throwing dinner parties at his home and auctioning weeklong stays at his vacation home in Southern California.


He’s also been generous with United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties. Since serving on its board from 1998 to 2003, he has been a member of its Alexis de Tocqueville Society, requiring a $10,000 donation. He’s used his contacts to recruit for the society and has played host to many of its events.


Former Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Gonzaga University law school classmate, tried to get Brecke to apply for a seat on a state board or commission when she took office in 2005. She was successful in 2007, when she offered a position on the Community Economic Revitalization Board.


Six years later, he continues to attend day-long meetings of the board in Olympia every other month as a volunteer.


He also uses his time to conduct services two Sundays a month for the residents of Kennewick Life Care Center as a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kennewick. He has brought Holy Communion to congregation members too sick to come to church for more than a quarter century.


Brecke founded Allen Brecke Law Offices in 1983, and before that worked for two other law firms.


Editorial Published Sunday, May 12,
2013, Tri-City Herald


Allen Brecke better be careful, or he’ll give lawyers a good name.


Too late.


He’s already made a lie out of the bum rap that has put lawyers at the receiving end of so many mean-spirited jokes.


The Kennewick attorney was named Tri-Citian of the Year on Saturday night before a crowd of well-wishers at the Three Rivers Convention Center.


His years of community service and financial contributions to worthy causes around the Mid-Columbia would elevate the reputation of any group he’s a part of, including the one he’s just joined — winners of the highest honor our community bestows on one of its own.


The selection criteria is worth repeating: “The Tri-Citian of the Year …. contributes to positive community development and economic impact, causes broad positive impact to people, and improved quality of life in the Tri-Cities.”


It’s fair to say that the economic, spiritual and physical well-being of all Tri-Citians are much improved by Brecke’s donations of time and treasure.


He literally is helping to change the face of the Tri-Cities — particularly at Southridge and the west end of Columbia Park, where major public construction projects are under way, thanks in part to Brecke.


Brecke has been co-chairman of the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center’s capital campaign steering committee, helping secure the money needed to start construction.


His efforts include using his influence as a longtime member of the Columbia Center Rotary Club to engineer a $300,000 pledge from the service group to the interpretive center.


He’s pledged $50,000 of his own money to the Reach, but such generosity isn’t unusual for Brecke.


Brecke donated his office staff and equipment to help set up Domestic Violence Services of Benton-Franklin Counties, then donated a BMW convertible to be raffled off for seed money to get the organization started.


He regularly opens his home to fundraising events to benefit the Red Cross of Benton-Franklin County, United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties, the Kennewick General Hospital Foundation and other charities.


Other charities that receive regular financial support from Brecke include the March of Dimes, Children’s Developmental Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Young Life, the Vista Youth Center, My Friend’s Place, Second Harvest Tri-Cities, Desert Sun Guild of Children’s Hospital, Tri-City Water Follies, Delta High School and Tri-Cities Prep.


He has served on the Kennewick General Hospital board for seven years and worked behind the scenes with the governor’s office and Sen. Mike Hewitt to keep construction of KGH’s new Southridge hospital on schedule.


Brecke is a lifelong member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and for 25 years he has conducted services for residents of the Kennewick Life Care Center. He also regularly brings Holy Communion to homebound church members.


He’s also a member of the Tri-Cities Visitors and Convention Bureau, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tri-City Development Council and the Columbia Basin Badger Club.


So, how many lawyers does it take to change a community for the better?

2012 - RON HUE

Ron Hue named Tri-Citian of the Year

Ron Hue Named Tri-Citian of the Year

Published Sunday, April 29, 2012, Tri-City Herald
By Michele Dupler, Herald staff writer


Even an impromptu visit from Gov. Chris Gregoire and a comedic anecdote from Washington State University football coach Mike Leach about living in a trailer covered floor-to-ceiling in red shag carpet couldn’t steal Ron Hue’s thunder Saturday night.


The longtime Tri-City Water Follies volunteer was named Tri-Citian of the Year at the annual award banquet night for his “contagious enthusiasm” for the local community.


Hue, branch manager for HAPO Community Credit Union, received the award at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick surrounded by family, friends and many admirers.


“I’m speechless,” he said as he hugged master of ceremonies Fran Forgette shortly after the announcement.


Hue’s expression as he took the stage alongside his family — and the one-time best man at his wedding who drove to Kennewick from Arizona — was one of surprised humility.


“This is when you need to hire an attorney because you need someone to speak for you,” Hue told the audience of Tri-City leaders.


“My dad always told me, ‘When you get something, you always give back more than what you got,’ ” he said. “That is what I’ve tried to do.”


Hue, a former Kennewick Man of the Year, received the S.T.A.R. (Service, Time, Attitude and Reliability) Award last month from the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.


He is a lifelong Tri-City resident with a decades-long history of volunteer work, including 33 years as a year-round volunteer for the Water Follies, including helping keep the popular summer event afloat when lack of sponsorship threatened its continued existence a few years ago.


“When working with Ron, you soon realize that he will do more than just attend meetings — he is a true roll-up-your-sleeves, getter-done kind of guy,” read his nomination letter, which was submitted by Karen Miller of Benton PUD and “many others.”


In addition to the Water Follies, he serves on the boards for the Columbia Center Rotary, Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation, Circle of Hope drug court, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau.


“Ron rarely talks about what he does and never seeks accolades. His passion to help others is contagious, which generates countless results throughout our community making it a better place for all,” his nomination letter said.


The Tri-Citian of the Year award is given each year to a local person who demonstrates “outstanding leadership and contribution to positive development, economic growth and quality of life in the Tri-Cities.”


Last year’s winner, Skip Novakovich, said Hue embodies the famous lines from President Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech about giving to the nation and working together for the freedom of man.


“Ron Hue is a true community servant and a fitting person for us to honor tonight,” Novakovich said.


The 90 minutes or so leading up to the announcement included a surprise visit by Gregoire, who was attending the Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation Dinner in the next room.


The night also included a 30-minute speech by Leach. The erudite coach talked about how he transitioned from a law student to a football coach and shared some stories of his struggles along the way, which include time spent living in that one-bedroom trailer with his young family.


His ultimate lessons were to maintain balance in life, follow your passions and give your best.


“I think it’s important to have a passion for what you do,” Leach said. “I think football provides that.”


Skip Novakovich named Tri-Citian of the Year

‘True patriot’ Skip Novakovich named Tri-Citian of the Year

Published Sunday, March 13th, Tri-City Herald
By Kristi Pihl, Herald staff writer

KENNEWICK Convention Center — The 2011 Tri-Citian of the Year award went to a “true patriot.”That is one of the many phrases that were used to describe Skip Novakovich as he was honored Saturday for more than 20 years of service in the Tri-Cities.

But Richland’s Novakovich said he could not take credit for the long list of community service efforts that John Umbarger, 2010 Tri-Citian of the Year, had read out loud.


Novakovich said the credit for the gifts and service he and his wife, Shannon, have given to the Tri-Cities community should go to God.


“You don’t worry about awards or rewards or what you can get,” he said. “Just worry about what you can give to people and the rest of it will come.”


Novakovich was joined by Shannon and two of their three children as well as grandchildren as he accepted the award to the standing ovation of more than 150 people who gathered at Kennewick’s Three Rivers Convention Center.


Umbarger admitted some of them were having a bit of trouble telling if Esprit Graphics, the Kennewick business Skip and Shannon own, was for profit or a nonprofit because the business annually contributes more than $50,000 in graphic design, printing and mailing services to support various community programs and organizations.


Novakovich “exemplifies the true spirit of the Tri-Citian of the Year Award,” according to the nomination letter. He anonymously was nominated for the award that recognizes someone who models “service above self.”


The nomination letter pointed to Novakovich’s work in opening transitional housing for veterans in Kennewick as an example of how he has tried to help address unfilled community needs.


As part of his work as president of the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition, Novakovich this year helped start transitional housing for veterans. The organization converted a 2,100-square-foot, four-bedroom home that was under foreclosure, and being offered by the city through its Neighborhood Stabilization Program, into veteran housing.


A retired Army lieutenant colonel, Novakovich has given his time to more than 26 local committees and groups, including the Benton-Franklin Mounted Sheriff’s Posse, Columbia Basin Badger Club and the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Signature 2020/Destination 5000 committee. He also is the commission chairman for the Port of Kennewick.


His past awards include 1999 Kennewick Man of the Year, Outstanding Partner of the Year with the Kennewick School District, Everyday Hero Award from Kiwanis, Kennewick’s Leadership Award for the Bridge-to-Bridge/River-to-Railroad project and Lifetime Volunteer Award for First Night International.


Novakovich and his wife were named Mr. and Mrs. First Night Tri-Cities in 2006 and have been honored with the Downtowner of the Year Award.

Skip Novakovich deserves latest in list of accolades

Published Sunday, March 13th, Tri-City Herald

Skip Novakovich has done a lot for this community.


He’s devoted countless hours to the betterment of his beloved Kennewick and beyond. And he’s earned honors and awards for his volunteerism and commitment to civic duty.


Accolades aren’t what motivate people like Novakovich to do what they do.


But it doesn’t hurt every once in a while to make sure folks who give so tirelessly and work so hard for our community know that they are truly appreciated.


Novakovich has been named Tri-Citian of the Year.


He’s probably best known for his downtown Kennewick business, Esprit Graphic Communications, which he operates with his wife, Shannon.


He’s also serving as president of the Port of Kennewick Board of Commissioners, an organization that’s moving forward with rejuvenating the long embattled Vista Field and the Kennewick waterfront, especially on and around Clover Island.


Serving as a port commissioner is a big job in itself.


But Novakovich doesn’t stop at being an entrepreneur and public servant. Many, many causes and organizations benefit from his involvement and leadership.


A retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, he also is chairman of the board of the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition, a group that’s near and dear to his heart.


He has helped create transitional housing for veterans and has supported the Tri-Cities Regional Veterans Memorial Committee and the Time of Remembrance Committee.


When arsonists demolished the Playground of Dreams in Columbia Park in 2003, Novakovich stepped in as chairman of the fundraising committee to rebuild the playground and was part of the remarkable effort to resurrect the playground in four days the following year. The campaign was so successful, there was money to spare in the fund when the playground was completed.


Novakovich has been active in downtown Kennewick for years, literally helping to change the look of the district with efforts to create the flag plaza and involvement in the facade improvement committee, which has helped several business owners improve the look of their stores. He also helped develop the family-friendly First Night Tri-Cities celebration.


Novakovich doesn’t just give of his time. He also gives back through his business, donating thousands of dollars of graphic design and printing work to community organizations each year.


His interest in current events and healthy debate brought him to be a founding board member of the Columbia Basin Badger Club.


The list of good deeds by Novakovich is long, as is the list of honors bestowed on him for his service.


As Tri-Citian of the Year, he joins a long line of distinguished folks who have helped make our community a better place to live and work.


John Umbarger named Tri-Citian of the Year

Umbarger named top Tri-Citian of the Year

Published Saturday, May 1st, Tri-City Herald
By John Trumbo, Herald staff writer

PASCO — In his 13 years as a Tri-Citian, John Umbarger has built a reputation as an enthusiastic volunteer, community booster, do-gooder and genuine nice guy.Now he can add 2010 Tri-Citian of the Year to his résumé.

Umbarger was honored with a standing ovation from about 400 people Friday night at the Pasco Red Lion.


“I am extremely honored to have spent the past 13 years working with most of you in this room,” Umbarger said.


He wasted no time turning the praise back to his friends, his wife and his church.


“Kathy is the love of my life. We’ve been married 44 years. I’m blessed by the Lord and a wonderful church,” Umbarger said, noting that “my church family is here.”

Ken Hohenberg, last year’s Tri-Citian of the Year and Kennewick’s police chief, made the introduction of Umbarger as the 2010 honoree by describing him as having been a spirited youth who eventually was active in the church and later became “very successful in life.”


Umbarger came to the Tri-Cities in 1997 as deputy director at Fluor’s economic transition office until mid-1998. He remained with Fluor more than a decade and was manager of Fluor’s community programs when he retired.


“John’s efforts and influence in our community has extended far beyond his assignment at Fluor,” said Larry Towner of Richland, who nominated Umbarger for the award.


Towner noted that Umbarger has a unique ability to draw together community resources to create new and enhanced services to benefit the Tri-Cities.


Among a long list of personal achievements, Umbarger:

  • Founded the Crystal Apple Award Program in 1999 to recognize outstanding educators.
  • Founded the Pasco High School Home Construction Program that has helped create 11 student-built homes since 1998.
  • Founded the community Book Harvest for the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation, which has collected more than 100,000 books for children.


This is in addition to 10 awards he accepted as a representative of Fluor Hanford.


Umbarger has received many more awards for his community involvement as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Mid-Columbia Educational Alliance, Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation, Boy Scouts, from which he received the Silver Beaver Award, Domestic Violence Services, Sunrise Rotary Club, Richland Rotary, the West Richland Chamber of Commerce and the Boys & Girls Club.


Towner was barely able to list on one page all the organizations in the Tri-Cities that Umbarger has helped, served or been active in since 1997. There are 29 of them.


“John is a role model who leads with his heart in every project he supports. He creates a spirit of community, (seeking) to involve every person, avoiding any personal recognition,” Towner wrote in his nomination.


“John is a true gentleman, honest, loyal and committed family man. He is cheerful in difficult times and modest in success. He is the example for all of us to follow,” said Connie Gillespie of Lourdes Health Network.


Hohenberg noted that the nomination submitted for Umbarger characterized him as being “woven into the very fabric” of the Tri-Cities.


Umbarger lives in Burbank on the shore of the Snake River. He and his wife Kathy have four grown children and two grandchildren.


He has a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s in management and a doctorate in nuclear physics. He holds five U.S. patents and was employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory until 1977, spending 26 years with the Department of Energy, Hohenberg said.