Community Columns

From one citizen of the year to another: Modesto’s Chris Murphy deserves accolades

By Dick Hagerty

Chris Murphy, the energetic promoter of all good things in Stanislaus County, has been selected as the Citizen of the Year for 2019.

Chris joins a long list of annual winners, dating to 1949 when Bill Bates was given the first award. In early days it was called Man of the Year, but the obvious selection of Bette Belle Smith in 1993 forced an important and appropriate name change to Citizen of the Year.

The award is sponsored by American Legion Post 74 and the dinner honoring Chris will be held on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Veterans’ Center, 3500 Coffee Road in Modesto. Social hour starts at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 and the award ceremony at 8. Dinner is a nominal $20. The public is invited, and it promises to be a fun evening of celebration and tribute.

Chris is not only a successful business executive but a tireless promoter of everything that is currently happening in the local community. For more than 20 years his “Modesto View” publication has helped “celebrate and publicize the good places, people and events in our community.”

Most recently he was the announcer for the annual Modesto Fourth of July parade, a role that he claims is one of his very favorite. Of course, he says, the favorite part of life is having wife Rebecca and daughters Madison and Abigail all living here in Modesto and enjoying the various activities he promotes and enjoys.

Chris has been a member of the Gallo Center for the Arts board, served as president of the State Theatre, created and publicized numerous aspects of annual Graffiti Festival events, along with many other musical and theatrical events in Stanislaus County. He is even lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party, that performs free concerts to help raise funds for local nonprofit organizations.

In addition to his tireless promotional efforts, he also is president and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, a family logistics business that services the food industry in both ambient and frozen warehousing and distribution.

Al Menshew, the longest-living recipient of the award, is chair of the nominating committee. Al commented to me, “These are the movers and shakers of our community who have made our county the great place that it is to live. Such a diverse group, from Marie Gallo to Jeremiah Williams, these are the folks that have shaped our greater Stanislaus area.”

Perhaps this is a good place to mention that I was the recipient of the 2018 award, which was presented by Lynn Dickerson, who had been honored in 2017. My principal official duty is to emcee the event to honor Chris, which will be a great opportunity for me to extol his many deeds.

There have been a total of 72 honorees, and 18 are still alive. Some recent winners include Norm Porges, Harold Peterson, Curtis Grant, Kenni Friedman and Odessa Johnson. Others include Tom Van Groningen, Bill Seavy, Dan Costa, Carol Whiteside, Jeff Cowan, John Evans, Ron Emerzian, and John and June Rogers.

It is a distinct honor for me to welcome Chris to our proud group of citizens who have performed great service to our community. Come out and help recognize our own “Energizer Bunny,” Chris Murphy.

Dick Hagerty is an Oakdale real estate developer active in nonprofits. He wrote this for The Modesto Bee.

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