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Condies strike gold at Silver Spur

Honored: Santa Clarita Valley couple captures College of the Canyons award for community service

Posted: March 17, 2010 9:39 p.m.
Updated: March 18, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Gary Condie waves to the applauding audience as Myrna Condie looks on.

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With hearts as big as the West, Gary and Myrna Condie were honored at the 20th Annual College of the Canyons Silver Spur Awards Dinner.

Though the skies opened up and started to pour, nothing could dampen the spirits or the outpouring of affection from the more than 300 family, friends and community leaders who gathered at the Autry National Center on March 6 to celebrate Gary and Myrna Condie as the recipients of the "Silver Spur" Community Service Award for 2010.

Gary Condie, the founder and president/CEO of Condie & Wood, CPAs, is a College of the Canyons Foundation board member and active supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, the Boy Scouts of America and the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Foundation. He most recently received the 2009 California Society of Certified Public Accountants' 100th Anniversary Public Service Award.

Named the 2009 California Mother of the Year by the California Association of American Mothers, Myrna Condie is also involved with the Boys and Girls Club of SCV, the Boy Scouts of America and is a College of the Canyons Foundation board member.

She started the annual "Festival of Trees" that raises funds for the Boys and Girls Club.

"All I can say is Gary has been my friend for 25 years, he is a true friend to people in the SCV and was already involved for 10 years with the with the Boys and Girls Club when I got here," said Jim Ventress, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club. "He was the main guy who began recruiting and raising funds for the Sierra Vista Club."

Since 1999, the Condies' support for College of the Canyons has centered on several key projects including the Performing Arts Center Endowment, the Early Childhood Education Center and the Foundation's Silver Spur event.

"This is a well-deserved and well-earned award," said U.S. Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, who attended the event with his wife, Patricia. "It is nice of COC to acknowledge their many years of service to the community. We have known them for a long, long time and in spite of their health problems, they never slow down. I am glad we could be here."

Among the distinguished guests were Mayor Laurene Weste and her husband, Jim McCarthy; Councilman Bob Kellar and his wife, Kathy Keysor Kellar; Tony Newhall; Wayne and Dianne Crawford; and Frank and Charlotte Kleeman, the 2005 Silver Spur recipients.

"It takes time to get a complete understanding of what they have done for the College of the Canyons," said Charlotte Kleeman. "I love the Condies - they are wonderful, giving people and the true backbone of the community."

Out of the West
True to the cowboy way and a reflection of the SCV's Western heritage, there were plenty of folks in fancy leather jackets, Stetsons and boots as they gathered in the lobby of the museum dedicated to the rich history of the American West.

The Condies were also outfitted in snappy cowboy gear courtesy of OutWest Western Boutique and Cultural Center in Newhall.

After a lengthy cocktail hour to allow the guests to dry off, co-chairs Jeff and Kiki Hacker, of the COC Foundation Board rounded up the crowd and corralled them into the museum's dining room surrounded on three sides by a huge mural depicting key events of the Old West - and Westerns, of course.

The Hackers thanked the event sponsors and welcomed Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees Michele Jenkins, Ernie Tichenor, Joan MacGregor, Bruce Fortine and Scott Wilk.

Master of Ceremonies Jeff Hacker also recognized the hard-working event committee members - Sue Bozman, Jasmine Foster, Jeri Seratti-Goldman, Kathy Keysor Kellar, Cathy Kennedy and Frank and Charlotte Kleeman.

Paul Strickland stepped up to toast the past Silver Spur recipients, whom he referred to as a "group of talented individuals ready to roll up their sleeves and get things done."

After the toasts, the guests tucked into a rib-sticking meal of short ribs or salmon and potatoes followed by a hearty bread pudding. Then the COC Foundation presented a video retrospective of the Condies' lives, produced by Sue Bozman, Bruce Battle and John McElwain of COC.

Hearts as Big as the West
As the video depicted highlights of their lives, we learned that Gary Condie was born in Prescott, Idaho, on New Year's Day in 1944.

The family later moved to the tiny town of Arco, Idaho where, on a "whistle stop tour of the West," President Harry Truman picked up Gary, as a toddler, for a photo that is a family treasure.

Even though a severe case of pneumonia left him with pulmonary problems for the rest of his life, Gary became proficient at horseback riding and accepted his mission for the Church of Latter-day Saints to Germany in 1964.

Myrna Richardson was born on Feb. 4, 1947 with a major heart defect that has affected her life. In 1959, she had one of the first heart bypass surgeries involving the brand new heart-lung machine to replace her mitral valve.

Myrna's family later moved to Exeter, Utah, where she was an extra in the movie, "Spencer's Mountain," which was filmed in the area.

When Gary ran into the young Myrna in a supermarket in Logan, Utah, he was smitten. Gary was on his way to Brigham Young University and asked Myrna to join him. But she said "no" and that was it, for a while.

Then, he again asked her to marry him, to, which she replied, "I'll have to think about it." Yet, after consulting with her parents, she married Gary on June 8, 1967, and they headed off to BYU, where Gary graduated with a degree in accounting in 1968.

By then, they had a daughter, Heather, and being the adventurous types, packed their car and moved to Southern California, where Gary worked for Arthur Anderson Accounting in Glendale.

In 1972, they won a car on "Let's Make a Deal," but in 1981, Myrna suffered a brain tumor and lost the hearing in her left ear. In 1984, she had a pacemaker installed in her heart. "We have both stared death in the face and walked away," Gary said. "The experience can make you bitter or better - we chose better."

But Myrna was not going to let anything slow her down. After moving to the SCV, she headed back to college and earned a degree in home economics and textile science. But they wanted to expand their family and ended up fostering 15 children, all of whom turned out to be successful.

The Outlaw
Before presenting the award, Mark Drilling and John Hoskinson of the Stokes Auction Group fast-talked the crowd into raising funds for the college with items such as tickets to opening day at Dodger Stadium, a day at Fire Station 123 complete with dinner, a seven-day Princess Cruise for two to Mexico and a chance to put the winner's name on Cougar Stadium for one year.

The Silver Spur Award
After more toasts, COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook stepped up to the podium.

"It is an honor to recognize them as our Silver Spur honorees for 2010 and thank them for their many years of service, support and friendship," Van Hook said. "The story of the Condies is deeply rooted in the American West. They are the epitome of what we love about the SCV and they do what it takes to live honorable lives every day."

Van Hook spoke highly of what it takes to become community leaders like the Condies.

"We must do what we fear, must go out there to take advantage of opportunities as they unfold," she said. "Just like the spirit of the Old West, they have true pioneer spirit, they are humble, and great supporters of COC with their energy and initiative to fuel our forward motion. The SCV would be a different place without the Condies - they symbolize the best of the best."

A 42-Year Love Story
"I feel all saddled up and you are right Dianne, I'm scared to death," said Gary Condie when he and Myrna stepped up to accept their award.
"I appreciate all you for coming - Myrna and I were wondering if anyone would come, but you all came out and made it possible, even in the rain."

Then they humbly and sincerely thanked everyone, their family, friends and their colleagues in the community.

"One of the things we felt when we were told we were to receive the award was total shock," Myrna said.

"But it grew on us, and it has been the most rewarding experience for both of us," Gary said. "We've been there for 36 of the 40 years of COC - we watched all the growth unfold."

The Condies acknowledged their daughter, Heather Lake and her husband, Bryan, and their first foster daughter, Peggie Schofield, who was with her husband, Dave.

"If she had not been so good, we might not have taken in any more," Myrna laughed.

But Myrna capped the evening with the last word.

"I want to add something to the video," Myrna said. "When Gary proposed to me and I said ‘I wasn't quite sure,' I want you to know we had been dating only one week.'"

"I knew what I wanted," Gary laughed. "After 42 years, I still love her."

"Well, then, I guess we are going to be OK," Myrna smiled as the crowd gave them another standing ovation.

For more information about the COC Foundation, visit www.canyons.edu

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