Bob Butler, Margene Gerton Rivara to be honored tonight with Patriot awards

Ceremony at Museum on Main starts at 5:30 p.m.

If Pleasanton is the "City of Planned Progress," Bob Butler can be credited with helping to make it so through his decades of community service. At the same time, Margene Gerton Rivara would see a need and fill it, improving the city's arts and providing homes for seniors.

Butler and Rivara are being awarded this year's Ed Kinney Community Patriot Awards, and friends and family are invited Monday to a champagne reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Museum on Main.

Butler was on the Planning Commission from 1974-78, the City Council from 1978-92 and mayor from 1980-81 -- crucial years when Pleasanton made the transformation from small town into thriving city. He is proudest of Stoneridge Shopping Center and Hacienda Business Park, which provide a solid tax base.

"Those two projects had the biggest impact on our community," Butler said, noting the groundwork had been done by those with foresight in the 1950s.

Other important actions during Butler's time include the Stoneridge Drive freeway interchange, Ruby Hill residential development, the Senior Center and library facilities and taking title to 105 acres from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Sports Park.

"I will never forget my first Planning Commission meeting," Butler said. "Foothill Road ridge development was on the agenda, and the meeting lasted from 7:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. My wife got so worried ... that she called the police."

Butler moved to Pleasanton in 1960 and worked for 35 years at GE Vallecitos. He served in the Army Reserve for 28 years, doing duty with the Army Nuclear Agency at the Pentagon, so each summer he and wife Mary Ann packed up the four children, drove across country and then camped in an area where Bob could take public transportation to the office.

Butler, who plays trombone, saxophone and percussion, is a charter member of the Pleasanton Community Concert Band, begun in 1975. He also has performed with the Valley Brass Quintet and the Livermore Symphony. And since his 1995 retirement from Vallecitos, Butler has been in the tax-preparation business.

With three careers, four children and five grandchildren, Butler has completed an astonishing number of community service projects.

"It's just giving back to a community that's been a great place to live," he said.

Rivara fell in love with Pleasanton when she visited her Uncle Bernie's family one summer from Colorado. At her urging, the family came that Christmas and decided to move here.

"I loved the friendliness, the scale of things, the people and the fact that it was so easy to get involved," she recalled.

While a student at Amador High School, Rivara realized that if she saw a need, she could get involved and move things forward. Since there was no ballet class in town, Rivara, who had taken advanced ballet classes in Denver, started the first ballet class.

Later, in 1968, she became involved when her church was among those that accepted the challenge to build Pleasanton Gardens senior housing. A few years later, she was a founding board member for the construction of Pleasanton Greens, a 132-unit housing project for seniors and low-income families.

Rivara, a Realtor and artist, served on the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council board for 16 years and helped reinstate strings programs in fourth and fifth grades. She served for 10 years on the Pleasanton Civic Arts Commission and was one of the four founding members of the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation, which was formed to raise money to create the Firehouse Arts Center.

Rivara was on the advisory board for the Cantabella Children's Chorus and acted as costume designer for the Children's Opera in Pleasanton in 2010, designing, making and donating 73 costumes for "The Piper of Hamlin." She is currently writing stories for children that "teach them self-esteem and self-achievement through kindness, service and a respect for nature."

"Everyone's life is enriched when they get involved in serving others," Rivara said.

Her goal is "to encourage people to live up to their full potential -- being everything they can be."

The Ed Kinney Community Patriot Awards are in their 11th year to honor the memory of the former mayor, and the reception is put on by Make a Difference, Today & Always. The awardees will also be honored at the Independence Day celebration, held midday in Lions Wayside Park.

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2 people like this
Posted by West side Observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Apr 25, 2016 at 9:15 am

Margene is one of the nicest persons I know. [Portion removed]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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