Two longtime volunteers were honored by their peers Friday night when Harry Bell and Candy Spahr were named Santa Clarita Valley Man and Woman of the Year for 2011.
The annual honors were handed out at the Hyatt Regency Valencia and the pair were picked from a field of 17 community supporters whose vast experience and contributions are collectively awe-inspiring.
Last year’s winners, Mary Ann Colf and Wayne Crawford, hosted the event and helped make the presentations.
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Candy Spahr was nominated for her tireless work on behalf of the American Cancer Society, who wrote: “Candy is a dedicated, conscientious and valuable volunteer for the American Cancer Society. She makes a difference in our organization with her positive, enthusiastic commitment to do all she can and in any way she can, to bring about our vision for a cancer free world. Her remarkable leadership as well as her innovative, resourceful fundraising abilities help to make all of our events outstanding and successful
“Candy’s high standards and integrity challenge all of us at the American Cancer Society to be the best we can in the fight against this disease. She is a strong and devoted advocate and a most industrious ambassador for cancer survivors and their families. Her generosity of time, energy, spirit and philanthropy are an example to everyone of a most extraordinary volunteer.”
Harry Bell was nominated by the Rotary Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, where he has been an active member for 48 years. His background is colorful and varied. The nomination papers summarized:
"Harry grew up on a farm and one of his chores on his grandparents' farm was to keep the oil lamps lit - because there was no electricity. Following his high school graduation, he went to work in the engineering department of Dow Chemical Co.
"He enlisted in the Army Air Corps just after Pearl Harbor was bombed. As a gunner on B24 heavy bombers, Harry flew 50 missions in Europe during WWII. When he left the service in 1945, he married, went to college at Central Michigan College, and graduated as a civil engineer. According to Harry, his first "real" job was in a six-man engineering department for Los Angeles Transit Lines. That led to a 15-year job working as an associate civil engineer with the office of the Los Angeles County Engineer.
Harry opened the County Engineering Office in Lancaster and sat on the County Planning Commission as advisor on grading and drainage. In the early 1960s, Harry partnered with Ed Bolden and opened Andel Engineering Co. in Newhall. Soon after, he opened Bell Realtors and then Century 21 Bell Realtors. He was one of five local realtors who founded the SCV Real Estate Board. He has been president of the board twice and named a Realtor of the Year.
"Along with his long-time dedication to SCV Rotary Club, he also served on the formation committee for Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. He is also a Mason 32nd Degree, an Elk, and a Shriner, with years of volunteer work at the Children's Hospital.
As a licensed commercial pilot with instrument rating and a Sea Plane rating, Harry has served as a flight instructor and has flown countless humanitarian missions to Mexico transporting doctors to poor villages to perform free surgeries on burned or crippled children."
Spahr and Bell were presented with the traditional silver-plated license plate frames emblazoned with their new titles and will receive a donation from the SCV Man and Woman of the Year committee for each of their favorite charities.
To learn more about this annual tradition or read about the 15 other nominees, click here .