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Posted: February 2, 2016

Frank Vanden Broek: Citizen of the Year

‘Service above self’ is the motto of Rotary Club members. It is an ideal to attain.

Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club member Frank Vanden Broek has been doing some attaining.

Vanden Broek was feted as Cranbrook’s Citizen of the Year Friday evening (Jan. 29), during a sold out dinner at the Heritage Inn and Conference Centre.

With parents Anne and Frank (Sr), wife Robyn and children Cody and Patrick and other family members in attendance, Vanden Broek was presented the annual Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce-hosted honour by executive director David D Hull.

“We are happy that at least once a year we can take time to say thank you to an individual who, through their efforts, have made Cranbrook a better place in which to live,” Hull said.

While it is a serious honour, being named Cranbrook’s finest citizen for a year also comes with a fair amount of roasting, along with the toasting.

Scattered between the evening’s speakers, which included Marke Dickson of Sunlife Financial, Sunrise Rotary Club president Trent Taylor, City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt, Coun. Tom Shypitka on behalf of Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, Rotarian Daryl Richardson and Retiring Citizen of the Year Derek Kortchega, were skits detailing reasons as to why Frank had been recognized for the honour… and more.

Among his many contributions to his community, the former owner of the Juniper Lanes and current Sunlife Insurance broker has played key roles in the establishment of the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo and led the charge during the Rotary Club’s Paint the Train campaign, culminating last July with engine 4090 now sporting its sharp, refurbished ribbing.

Marke Dickson noted Frank is a “man who shoots from the hip but is also a caring and giving individual.”

It is his leadership traits that make him stand out, he added. “Leadership is getting in the trenches, getting things done and most importantly lead by example; Frank is a leader. If the community had more leaders like Frank, we’d all be better off.”

Mayor Lee Pratt said it was an honour to speak about Frank.

“Your many hours of volunteering have had a very positive impact on our community. We sometimes take for granted the community we live in, without taking a moment to realize and appreciate those who often work tirelessly toward something we can enjoy. Many people become involved in volunteering because people they are know are doing it. Once people become involved they either enjoy it or they don’t. Those who do usually go all in and do a great job, rewarding both themselves and the cause or project they’re working at.

“Your dedication to Rotary is a fine example of this, Frank. It is because of your notable contributions that you are being recognized as our citizen of the year. You’ve managed to organize your life enough to include business and community without sacrificing family time. I’m sure you’ve been a role model for others who have witnessed the numerous hours that you have dedicated,” Pratt stated.

A co-worker of Frank’s, Tom Shypitka said he’s a person who takes his time and mentors people, often sharing valuable advice such as “always borrow money from a pessimist; they never expect you to pay them back.”

He also thanked him for his contributions on behalf of MLA Bennett and the Province of B.C.

“Frank joined Rotary 15 years ago and our club has been busy ever since,” pointed out Sunrise Rotary Club president Trent Taylor, stressing that Frank is “truly representative” of Rotary’s service above self motto.

“He never gives up and isn’t flattened by anything,” he said.

Friend and fellow Rotarian Daryl Richardson apologized to Frank (“sorry buddy”) before speaking.

“When there is an event or a project taking place in Cranbrook, you can usually see ole carrot top there,” he said. “Frank is not only a great leader or a volunteer in his community but in his own family. How many projects where he was involved, so were his kids… and yes, Robyn.”

Richardson noted the letters of nomination for the award held common threads.

“Frank is incredibly deserving of this honour; this is an exceptional award for an extraordinary citizen. If you look at the list of past recipients, it’s a who’s who of what makes Cranbrook a great place to live, work and play and we’d be pleased to add Frank’s name to the list; lives up to the Rotary motto, service above self; an outstanding professional; influential leadership skills,” he said.

Richardson also quoted a Rotary exchange student from Mexico who said Frank has an “altruistic soul” and is “a great citizen of the world.”

Concluding the evening, Vanden Broek invited Robyn up to the podium and, his voice cracking slightly said, “she’s a big part of this award. She’s never been behind me that much; she’s usually beside me or out in front somewhere,” he said, stopping her from trying to flee back to her seat.

He also thanked his parents for coming in from Bow Island (Alta.) and credited them for teaching him how to help out.

“They taught us to pitch in whenever there was a need. It wasn’t talked about a lot; they just led by example,” he said. “They also showed us that it was okay to help out and help out others without being publicly recognized; just do it anonymously. The joy was in just giving and helping.”

He also warned, “Just remember, there will be pay back.”

But Robyn tempered the threat by informing the audience, “His memory is failing.”

In closing Frank offered a quote from his mom: “Just remember it is far better to help others than to have to ask others for help.”

Keeping the tradition of past citizens of the year attending the evening celebration alive were Rick Jensen (1990), Bud Abbott (1992), Skip Fennessy (1995), Gordon Murphy (2000), Dorial Davis (husband Al could not attend; 2004), Nella Rounsville (2005), Jason Wheeldon, who emceed the evening (2012) and Retiring Citizen of the Year Derek Kortchega.

The chamber has been hosting the citizen of the year event since 1973.

Also on hand during the evening was City of Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick along with City of Cranbrook councilors Norma Blisset, Danielle Cardozo, Wes Graham, Ron Popoff and Tom Shypitka and Cranbrook’s Youth Ambassadors, Sweetheart Kelsey Ackert and Princess Sarah Ferguson.

During the intermission there was a bowling game – tossing loonies at bottles of wine – for three loonies for $5 (“called the US exchange rate,” Wheeldon said.) The funds flinging frenzy resulted in $200 raised to go toward a Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Sunrise Rotary.

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By Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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