The Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce presented its Citizen of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards in a digital award ceremony Thursday held via Zoom.
Lifetime Achievement awards were given to Neil Atkinson, president of the Mendenhall Flying Lions Club and the late attorney Kathy Ruddy, whose daughter accepted the award on her behalf.
“I’m shocked. I don’t know what to say. Thank you,” Atkinson said during the ceremony which was livestreamed. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of all the lions club members throughout the state.”
Atkinson was given the award for his longtime philanthropic efforts with the Lions Club such as raising money to combat diabetes and spearheading a paper recycling program, presenters Ron Flint and Ted Quin said.
“It was all done all out of love,” Atkinson said of his work.
The other Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Ruddy, whose local philanthropic work included working to bring the whale statue to Mayor Bill Overstreet Park, said presenter Ben Browing.
“My mother was an amazing person and an inspiration to all of her children,” said Lydia Ruddy, accepting the award for her mother. “She was always great about teaching.”
The chamber has given the annual awards since 1977, according to its website, to honor Juneau residents for their outstanding service to the community. Recipients of these awards are typically announced at the chamber’s annual banquet held in October at Centennial Hall, but were postponed and held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The chamber doesn’t present the Lifetime Achievement award every year, the chamber’s executive director, Craig Dahl, told the Empire Friday in a phone interview, so to present two awards in one year was a very special event, he said. It was important to the chamber to maintain the tradition of presenting the awards even during the pandemic, Dahl said.
Since the event was held via Zoom, Dahl said attendees from as far away as Montana and Italy were able to join to speak about the recipients.
Citizen of the Year Awards were presented to Geoff and Marcy Larson, owners and founders of the Alaskan Brewing Co.
The Larsons are both unique and talented individuals, said presenter Sioux Douglas, and their success has made Juneau famous. Another presenter, Andy Kline, said the Larsons have been part of telling the story of Juneau to a national audience.
“Listening to all of those remarks and comments, it really means a lot. There’s not a lot you can say, because it’s so amazing,” Marcy Larson said at the ceremony.
“Our town, our community, is made up of wonderful people,” Geoff Larson said. “That’s what makes Juneau, and Alaska, so special. It’s the people that make this town.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.