Yosemite Bank Vice President/Branch Manager Don Eaves will be installed Friday night as the new president of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce. The president’s gavel will be passed to him by Sierra Tel’s Dan Rule, outgoing president, during the chamber’s Installation Dinner & Awards Ceremony at the Pines Resort at Bass Lake.
Eaves has been with Yosemite Bank for 11 years, being named VP/branch manager two-and-a-half years ago after the retirement of Doug Dearing.
“I’m looking forward to the year ahead serving the community and the businesses of Oakhurst,” Eaves said. “The chamber is going in the right direction and I’m excited to work with the chamber board of directors and our Executive Director Joelle Leder who is doing a great job.”
Other chamber officers who will be installed for the new year are Sierra Star Publisher Betty Linn (president elect), Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors President Melanie Barker (secretary), Andrew Pence of W.J. Bradley Mortgage (treasurer), and Rule as past president.
Additional board members to be installed are Mike DeVito (Pacific Pectin), Shelle Abbott (Central Valley Community Bank), Brian Negley (Oakhurst Sierra Rotary), Darin Soukup (Oakhurst Community College Center), and Christian Mueller (The Redwoods in Yosemite), Anne Driscoll (Branches Books & Gifts), Shawna Petrushkin (Ameriprise Financial), and Stephanie Simonian (47th Place Carpet One).
Lifetime Achievement Award
Long time community leader Doug Dearing, replaced by Eaves at Yosemite Bank upon his retirement, will be honored Friday night with the highest honor the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce can bestow on an individual - the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented only to those who have shown extraordinary contributions to the community thorough many years of service.
Dearing retired in June of 2013 after a 44-year career in banking - 22 years as vice president/branch manager of Oakhurst’s Yosemite Bank. After his retirement, he served the bank an additional 18 months in community relations.
Well known throughout the Mountain Area, Dearing was named the 1994 Man of the Year by the chamber, and Yosemite Bank, under his leadership, was named Business of the Year for 1997. He received an Angel Amongst Us award in 2000 for his support of the community.
Dearing is past president of both the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club, and the chamber of commerce, and has been involved in the annual Rotary Crab Feed, and the Sunrise Rotary Club’s Cajun Fest. He was active in the establishment of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst and the Education Enhancement Foundation.
He represented Yosemite Bank as a chamber member from 1991 to 2014, was a chamber board member for many years and a past president.
“My principal theme in managing the bank was to take care of the employees and customers, and make a contribution to the community in both time and financial donations,” Dearing said.
Dearing’s commitment to public service came at an early age.
“When I was 13 my parents divorced, and they both remarried ... my father and new wife were very active in the church, and my mother and her new husband were very active in Lions Club,” Dearing said. “When I went to work for Bank of America in 1968, being active in the community was a culture tradition of the bank ... participating in the community, helping children, and community organizations. I enjoyed the challenge to help - It was important then and still is.”
Looking ahead, Dearing feels growth in the Mountain Area and the Valley continue as the population expands.
“The need for senior services will expand significantly as our population lives longer,” Dearing said. “Second careers for retired seniors who ‘flunked retirement’ because they find they need to fill their days with the activity of work, will become more common. Many seniors will work longer due to better health and financial need. Many small businesses will be started by seniors as second careers.”
Dearing said he hopes he’s around in 20 years to gauge his predictions.
“If I am not around, someone please call me long, long distance ... in fact call me collect and give me an update.”
Dearing and his wife Leislie, a well know watercolorist, recently celebrated 48 years of marriage.
“We have been continually supportive of each other,” Doug said. “I did not come from a business background and I struggled in the early years. I come from a blue collar family, and early on, I questioned if banking was for me. Leislie encouraged me to give it a little more time on numerous occasions. She is why banking became my career.”
“Doug has served our community in about every civic endeavor imaginable,” said Dan Rule, 2015 Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce president. “For more than 20 years he has tirelessly impacted our community by supporting our local service clubs and organizations. He has quietly advocated for our community’s social and economic well-being because he simply believed it was the right thing to do.”
Welch, Smith, and Goga will be honored
In addition to Dearing, Steve Welch, owner-broker of Bass Lake Realty and general manager of the Bass Lake Water Co., will be honored as the chamber’s Man of the Year, and Donna Smith of Foster & Parker Insurance will be honored as Woman of the Year.
Colette Goga, owner of Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply, will receive the 2015 Business of the Year award.
Welch has been a resident of Bass Lake since 1974 when he moved from Camarillo to work at The Pines Resort, where he served as general manager and president for a combined 33 years.
Welch is a founding member of the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club (past president), the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce, and the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.
Smith has lived in Oakhurst since the mid-80s, after relocating from Madera. She has served on the chamber board of directors for two years (secretary), and has been an active member of the chamber for 12 years.
Smith served as board president of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst for eight years, and started, with others, the Christmas Tree auction that benefits the club and other nonprofit organizations in the area. She remains an adviser for the club.
Smith is a member of the Oakhurst Sunrise Rotary Club, and the Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors.
Originally from Detroit, Colette Goga moved to Oakhurst in 2004 from Yosemite, and bought her business in 2007, after being the store manager for two years.
Goga has been a member of the chamber since 2007, and served on the board of directors for four years. She is the current president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association, is a member of the Heritage Days committee, participates in the Boys & Girls Club Christmas Tree Auction, and is a certified animal disaster rescue volunteer. In addition, she, along with store employees, pick up litter on a two mile stretch of Highway 49 as part of the California Keep Our Highways Beautiful program.
The Executive Director’s Award will be awarded during the dinner to the Madera County Office of Emergency Services, Cal Fire Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, and Sierra National Forest Bass Lake Ranger District.
The doors to the Lakeview Room at the Bass Lake Conference Center open at 6 p.m. for a reception, with dinner served at 7. Cost of the dinner catered by Ducey’s On the Lake is $45 per person. The Pines is offering dinner attendees a special room rate for the night.
Call the chamber for dinner reservations, and special room rate code, (559) 683-7766.