Our Laguna: Parade honorees are impressive bunch

February 02, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
  • Louise Buckley, left, the 2012 Patriot of the Year, is seen here at a Laguna Beach Seniors holiday luncheon in December.
Louise Buckley, left, the 2012 Patriot of the Year, is… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

The annual Patriots Day Parade Honorees Brunch this Sunday at Tivoli Terrace is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of hometown folks to our city and beyond.

To be honored this year: Grand Marshals Dorene and United States Air Force Gen. (ret.) George Lee Butler, 2012 Patriot of the Year Louise Buckley, Citizens of the Year Betsy and Dr. Gary Jenkins, and Junior Citizens Caroline Cannan and Bryce Blanton. Artist Jorg Dubin and athlete Natasha Strickland will also be honored.

Gen. Butler was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1961. Thirty years later he was a general, serving as commander-in-chief of the Strategic Air Command. Later he was named commander-in-chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, with responsibility for all Air Force and Navy strategic nuclear forces with the national security objective of strategic deterrence.

The appointments confirmed his worst fears about nuclear power, he said in 1999.

"I had to be prepared to advise the president to sign the death warrant of 250 million people living in the Soviet Union," Butler said. "I felt that responsibility to the depth of my soul, and I never learned to reconcile my belief systems with it. Never."


So he worked to reduce nuclear capability.

Butler retired from the military in 1994.

The Butlers founded a philanthropic nonprofit foundation, which has donated to the Laguna Beach Seniors Inc.

"He is an extremely bright and conscientious person, looking for ways to stop wars," said Chris Quilter, president of seniors. "And we get to pick his brain."

Dorene Butler is on the board of Laguna Beach Seniors and the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

The Patriot of the Year award honors those who have served the nation gallantly or meritoriously in time of war or national emergency.

The diminutive 90-year-old Buckley doesn't look like much of a warrior, but don't be fooled.

She served in the Women's Army Air Corps in World War II and has been a bulldog in the trenches on behalf of Laguna Beach seniors in their efforts to get the Susi Q center financed and built.

The Citizen — or in the case of the Jenkinses, Citizens — of the Year is chosen for significant contributions to the community.

The Jenkinses have been active in Laguna Beach since moving here in the early 1980s. Despite a busy pediatrics practice for more than three decades, Gary Jenkins has found time to serve as president of Village Laguna and SchoolPower.

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