Saturday, January 01, 2005

Yuma Citizen of the Year: Educator, outgoing county supervisor and lawmaker picked for top honor

This couldn't have happened to a better guy. I worked with Bob for a few years and to me he was a mentor and someone I looked up to with the utmost admiration and respect. Best wishes in the next Chapter of your impressive life Bob.
Local News: Outgoing Yuma County Supervisor Bob McLendon could have been anything he wanted to be, according to his nominators. But he chose to be a public servant, they said. "Bob McLendon is selfless. He is as close to a true public servant as you will ever find. From serving kids as a high school teacher and coach to the state Legislature to the county board, the guy just actually cares more about the community than he does about himself," said Ron Watson, a local business owner who nominated McLendon. A 10-member committee chose McLendon as The Sun's 2004 Citizen of the Year from 23 nominations. McLendon's contributions to Yuma began in 1961 when he started teaching American history and government and coaching basketball at Yuma High School. From 1982 to 2000, McLendon represented Yuma as a member of the state House of Representatives until term limits prevented him from being re-elected to the House. In 2000, he was elected to the Yuma County Board of Supervisors and did not rerun in November's election because "it was time to do something else." In an interview about his retirement from community service, McLendon talked about why he enjoyed giving back to the public. At the time, McLendon did not know he was chosen as Citizen of the Year. "I still think that being a teacher is probably the most important thing I ever did," he said. "I love doing it. That's my life." McLendon said he decided to run for the Legislature because he believed he "could maybe make a difference with educational issues." "Politics is a lot like coaching. You've got to have a game plan. You've got to gain trust," he said. Now that McLendon has stepped away from the political and educational arenas, his immediate game plan is focusing on spending time with his family, he said. "I think Bob could have been anything he wanted to be, in terms of business and other personal endeavors, but he is a public servant. He cares about the community," Watson said. "He is a guy, that no question, could have done a lot of things. He could have made a lot of money, yet he chose to work with the youth. He did it because he loves kids," said Bob Schmitt, an attorney in Prescott who also nominated McLendon. "I honestly don't know anyone who has had more of a positive impact on the people of Yuma than Bob McLendon. He has positively affected the lives of thousands of kids," Schmitt said. In addition to Watson and Schmitt, McLendon was also nominated by District 24 State Representative James Carruthers and Yuma County School Superintendent Tom Tyree. "He was my high school basketball coach, so I've known him as a teacher and a coach," Tyree said. "He is the reason I became an educator." The committee that chose McLendon was comprised of previous Citizens of the Year: Mary Cordery, 1990; Thad Jennings, 1997; Dr. Robert Cannell, 1999; Cathy Reeves, 2000; and Glen Curtis, 2002; as well as employees of The Sun: Cynthia Marshall, human resources manager; Lori Stofft, marketing director; John Vaughn, city editor; Roxanne Lehmann, news editor; and Terry Ross, editor. McLendon's nominators used phrases "a man of the people"; "one of the nicest, most empathic human beings"; "a tireless champion" and "a man of impeccable integrity" to describe him in their nomination letters. "Anything that you can do to help people and make things better for them gives you a good feeling inside," McLendon said. He said that even though he will not be on the decision-making end of community issues, he said he still plans on keeping his representatives abreast of issues. But for now, it is time for McLendon to do something different with his life, he said. "Sometimes it's better to get off of the stage while the people are still clapping," he said.

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