Honoring Our Heritage: Annual Clovis Hall of Fame ceremony celebrates outstanding leaders, citizens

Clovis Hall of Fame inductees and honorees gather for a group photo following the awards ceremony held at Clovis Veterans Memorial District, Sept. 15, 2018. Left to right: Janet Young, Fran Kilgore, Mark Gardner, Guy and Carey Adams, Peggy and Dan Dunklee, Elaine Bell, and Stevan Ponce. CONTRIBUTED BY RON SUNDQUIST

Sponsored by the Exchange Club of Clovis, the Annual Clovis Hall of Fame Awards Gala was held on Saturday, Sept. 15. Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck hosted the event and CenterStage Clovis Community Theater provided the evening’s entertainment.

The following individuals, families and organizations were selected as this year’s recipients and inductees:


Frank and Maude Bell Family

Early residents of Clovis, Frank Tyree Bell and Maude Marie Kirkpatrick were married in 1918 and are most remembered for their activities when Clovis was a developing community. Frank was a founder of the Clovis Rodeo Association and took on the role of Grand Marshall in 1967. He belonged to several community organizations including the Cecil Cox Post of the American Legion, the Clovis Masonic Lodge in addition to serving on the Clovis City Council from 1942-1950.

Maude was the beloved principal of Clovis Elementary School until 1938 and was known for her affectionate hugs. Community was important to her and her membership included the Clovis Women’s Club, Memorial Methodist Church, and American Legion Auxiliary.

The couple owned Clovis Lumber, once on the site of what will be the future location of the city’s new library, senior center and transit center.

By passing on their values, the Bell and Kirkpatrick families helped form the Clovis we know today.

Janet L. Young, Ed.D.

Born and raised in the Valley, Janet Stiner Young always knew education was where she was meant to be. After landing her dream job as a first grade teacher, she taught for 10 years, and then returned to school to earn her Master of Arts degree in School Administration at Fresno State and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of La Verne.

Leading 6,000 employees and 42,000 students during her six years as CUSD Superintendent from 2011-2017, Young’s goal was to uphold the District’s core values, high standards and commitment to excellence.

Clovis Elks Lodge No. 2599

150 years ago, the “Jolly Corks” as they were first known, formed in New York City as a way to avoid local laws governing public taverns. The name “Elks” came about when the 15 founding members voted on a symbol that was “a readily identifiable creature of statute, indigenous to America.” By one vote, the elk won out over the buffalo.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks has become a national organization over 2,000 lodges strong, supportive of veterans, youth and the community. Lodge No. 2599 was started in 1979 and is housed in an unassuming building one block south of Old Town Clovis. Volunteers make community projects possible, whether at Poverello House, working with the Boy Scouts, or the annual Christmas party for families of deployed soldiers. Their charitable services help build a stronger Clovis.

Citizens of the Year: Dan and Peggy Dunklee

Both Dan and Peggy attended Clovis High School, married and moved away for a time before returning to Clovis to raise their two children.

After health issues forced Dan into early retirement, Peggy decided to open a used book store and A Book Barn was born.

Both the Dunklees have a passion for literacy and promote the written word by several educational outreach programs that include children’s programs, a variety of workshops, conferences and author events.

National Recognition: Mark Gardner

Born in Los Angeles, Mark Gardner attended Clovis High School where he had a stellar baseball career. He went on to pitch at Fresno City College and Fresno State. During his time at Fresno State, Mark met Lori Romeiro, an All-American softball pitcher, whom he married.

Gardner broke into the major leagues in 1989 at 27 years old with the Montreal Expos. He enjoyed a long and successful career, pitching with the Kansas City Royals, Florida Marlins and the San Francisco Giants. During that span, he pitched in 345 games, 275 as the starter and the others in the long reliever role, averaging nearly 30 games a year.

He was on the U.S. team that toured to Cuba in 1984, is the winner of the Willie Mays Award, the Giant’s highest honor recognizing spirit and leadership, and was a member of three World Series championship teams.

In 2001, Gardner retired. In 2003, he began coaching for the Giants as the bullpen coach and remained in that position for 14 seasons. This year, with his eye for talent and great understanding of the technical aspects of pitching, Gardner is on special assignment with the Giants to evaluate pitchers.

Lori Gardner, after a long battle with liver cancer, died in 2003. Before her death, Lori and Mark created Step to the Plate Foundation to help families of transplant recipients. They also began working actively with the California Organ Donor Network and the Stanford Medical Center to raise awareness of the need for organ and tissue donors.

Today, the Gardner family remains active in Donate Life America, a nonprofit alliance of national organizations and 47 state-based organizations across the United States dedicated to educating the public and advocating for organ, eye and tissue donations.

Police Officer of the Year: Corporal Scott Borsch

Cpl. Scott Borsch always wanted a career in law enforcement; he graduated from Cal State Stanislaus in 1999 with a degree in Criminal Justice. His first assignment was as a correctional officer at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo before moving to Arizona to attend the Police Academy for the City of Peoria.

During this time, he was part of an officer-involved shooting, earning a Distinguished Service Medal. During the incident, a fellow officer was shot and became paralyzed from the waist down. A total of six Peoria police officers were involved in the shooting, which has bonded them together for life.

In 2007, Borsch transferred to the Clovis Police Department. After working four years in patrol, he became a detective, expanding his experience to a broader range of cases and partnerships with other law enforcement agencies and colleagues.

Borsch has been a member of the Clovis PD Bomb Team since 2012 and now leads the team as the Bomb Squad Commander. He has worked with neighborhoods to resolve problems, worked with other police department employees to plan community outreach barbeques and events, met with apartment managers to discuss ongoing issues, attended school events to reach out to youth, organized coat drives with area businesses and more.

He was promoted to Corporal in 2015. In his supervisor role, he has enjoyed mentoring younger officers and takes the time to develop newer officers into experienced crime fighters, all to make Clovis a safer place to live.

Firefighter of the Year: Engineer Fred Edwards

The first to volunteer and the first to help others is a good description of Engineer Fred Edwards. Not only does he generously give his time to help others, his meticulous attention to maintaining the firefighting equipment and his mechanical skills have proven to be real assets to the department-and saves tax dollars. Within the department, whenever there is a request for off-duty help, Edwards is there, often the first to volunteer, enthusiastically willing.

Edwards consistently represents the Clovis Fire Department at many of the volunteer events for kids held at Valley Children’s Hospital. It may just be a simple act of passing out toys to children struck by injury or dealing with an illness, but it is often the only bright spot that a child may experience. No doubt, Edwards has sparked the career dream in more than one child to become a firefighter.

Edwards may think his actions are just the way things should be done, but fellow firefighters recognize that he goes far above and beyond what most contribute. His example is one that others can strive to emulate.

Service to Youth: Guy and Carey Adams

Horses have always played a big part in the lives of Guy and Carey Adams; that role expanded in 2011, when they started the Heart of the Horse Therapy Ranch. It is a therapeutic-assisted riding program using horses and trained instructors to provide equine-assisted therapy for people of all ages with a wide range of physical and developmental disabilities. This includes our military veterans.

As a non-profit organization located in Clovis, the ranch works most frequently with children diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, rare genetic disorders and cerebral palsy, all presenting motor control problems addressed through therapeutic-assisted riding. The adult program serves mostly with veterans who have returned home with service-related PTSD or injuries.

Heart of the Horse Therapy Ranch operates solely on donations and sponsorships and partners with such programs as the Down Syndrome Association of Central California, Break the Barriers, CVMD, Valley Children’s Hospital plus many other like-minded organizations.

Married for 35 years, the couple has changed the lives of so many children and adults by helping them better meet the challenges they face.

Service to Veterans: Fran Kilgore   

While attending Madera High School, Fran was aware of many of her male classmates dropping out of school to join the military, some deployed to Korea and not returning. After graduation, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corp on her 18th birthday for a two-year assignment. She was assigned to the United States Military Academy, West Point Hospital as the secretary to the executive officer of the facility.

At West Point, Kilgore met and married Jack Daws, an Airborne Ranger, who was deployed to Vietnam on two separate occasions. He did not return from the second tour of duty and has been missing since 1966. Kilgore spent many hours working with various agencies attempting to recover his remains, but to this day he remains MIA.

In 1974, Fran married Gary Kilgore and the husband and wife team became business partners. They owned F&K Rock and Sand. They built Clovis Stone and Supply and bought EZ Haul Ready Mix and G&J Freight. When the couple divorced in 1987, she became the sole owner of F&K Rock and Sand.

Fran has been actively involved in the Clovis community for many years. She is a past president of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce and served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. In 1991, she was honored as Business Woman of the Year. In 1992, her company received the award for Woman-Owned Business Enterprise of the San Joaquin Valley, then in 1995, the Marjaree Mason Center honored her as one of the Top 10 Business/Professional Women of the Year.

Her devotion to veterans and their needs is evident in her many activities with the American Legion for over 20 years. Among them is her position as the Commissioner of Legislative Affairs for the 14th District of the American Legion. She is a VA hospital volunteer and served in the “No Veteran Dies Alone” program, dedicated to ensuring that every veteran has someone by their side when they are in their last hours.

Spirit of Clovis: Dwight Kroll

Anyone looking at Old Town sees the vision Dwight Kroll created as the city’s planning director. From the Storefront Renovation Program; the trail system; the Urban Design Concept; the Cottage Home movement; encouraging community creativity with the “Taking it to the Streets” festival; and transforming an open dirt lot into the beautiful Centennial Plaza, Kroll’s inspirational designs define Clovis.

Kroll began his career as Assistant Planner with the city in 1981 after graduating from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo the year before. A strategic walkway and creating a “turn of the century” storefront facelift for shops along Clovis Avenue were among his initial projects and lead to the treasured Old Town area.

Dwight became Director of Planning and Development Services in 2009, responsible for planning, engineering and building permits and inspections. He has developed a planning team that focus on cohesive plans, creative solutions, practical implementation and exceptional customer service.

There are few professions where one can literally leave their “handprint” on every corner of a community, but that is exactly what Kroll and his team continue to do.

The 2019 Clovis Hall of Fame Awards is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2019. Please consider attending, thereby supporting those who have helped form the way of life we enjoy today.