Philanthropists Les and Judy Vadász will share the role of Sonoma’s Alcalde, an honorary title bestowed annually on a resident who takes a leading, selfless role in community service and, according to the official description of the post, “is well-known for consistent behind-the-scenes good deeds.”
The duo has a long history of supporting local non-profits directly and through the Vadász Family Foundation. Beneficiaries have included the Sonoma Mentoring Alliance, the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, the county Meals on Wheels program, a pioneering science program at El Verano School, and many more.
Les Vadász was a founding executive with Intel before retiring in 2003. Upon moving to Sonoma, the couple helped start the Plein Air Festival, which supports public schools.
This year’s other nominees were Gary Edwards and Robert Wilson.
Announcing the honor Monday night, Mayor Ken Brown said the city council had received 40 letters of support for Les and Judy Vadász.
As resurrected from the pueblo days by the city in 1975, the position is ceremonial. The couple will be given a silver-headed cane as a symbol of the honor and make appearances at numerous public events, including the Fourth of July Parade and the Vintage Festival Parade.
Alcalde honor roll
The very first Alcade was August Pinelli, in 1976. Here are some of the more recent recipients:
2000 – Howie Ehret
2001 – Robert Cannard, Sr.
2002 – Mitch Mulas
2003 – Ellie Baker
2004 – Sue Holman & Susan Weeks
2005 – June Sheppard
2006 – Al & Kathy Mazza
2007 – Phyllis Carter
2008 – Sy Lenz
2009 – Elizabeth Kemp
2010 – Niels Chew
2011 – Mary Evelyn Arnold
Photo courtesy Sonoma State University