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Saluting Leaders of Character

Boy Scouts of America honor local residents

Posted: October 11, 2008 8:17 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Mayor Bob Kellar and Kathy Keysor Smith.

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It was as if a Norman Rockwell painting had come to life in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Valencia. Dozens of Boy Scouts of all ages - big and small, short and tall, Cub Scouts, Webelos and Scouts - mingled with formally-gowned and tuxedo-clad guests gathered to recognize the 2008 Leaders of Character.

In the lobby smiling portraits of the honorees - Bob Kellar, Harold and Jacquie Petersen and Larry and Peggy Rasmussen - greeted arriving guests. Each portrait was surrounded by certificates of recognition and the gleaming bronze eagle trophy that would be presented later in the evening to each honoree.

Larry Rasmussen's Eagle Scout award was also on display, as were his sash with his Scouting badges and his Order of the Arrow.

The third annual Leaders of Character Recognition Dinner included live and silent auctions to raise funds for the Bill Hart District of the Boy Scouts of America. The Bill Hart District serves 1,331 Club Scouts, 824 Boy Scouts, 360 Venturers lead by 1,200 adult volunteers in 103 Scouting units in the Santa Clarita Valley including Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Saugus, Stevenson Ranch, Valencia and Val Verde.

The district is named for actor William S. Hart -- the original screen cowboy known for being ever forthright and honest - who stared in more than 65 silent Westerns which offered moralist themes.

Hart moved to the SCV in 1921 where he built his "retirement" home in Newhall. He lived in the SCV until his death in 1946. His home and ranch were left to the "people of Los Angeles County" and is now a museum and park. The William S. Hart Union High School District is also named for the SCV's most famous resident.

The silent auction, called a "virtual auction," found guests bidding on the items as dinner was served.

Scouts roamed the ballroom displaying the baskets of auction items to the seated guests. Bidders could keep track of their bids on the large screens around the room as the bid amounts were updated on screen throughout the dinner.

Among the items were golf, entertainment, landscaping, picnic and family treat baskets as well as lunch with state Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, passes to the Magic Castle and tickets to the Master Chorale, Santa Clarita Symphony, Canyon Theatre Guild and Repertory East Playhouse.

The live auction featured a host of "adventurous" items including a half day sailing and snorkeling and scuba adventure for eight on Tom Petersen's boat which fetched $1,500 after Petersen made a powerful pitch for the item, extolling the virtues of his boat.

Other items included a flight training session, winery day tour, full day yacht cruise, a Costa Rica resort vacation (donated by The Sanctuary Resort) and an aerial tour and dinner for two.

A professional make-over with Hollywood makeup artist Joseph Saenz, known for his custom blended foundation, was won by two bidders after Saenz (who attended the event) allowed the auctioneer to offer a package to each bidder at the same $675 bid.

A "Boys Night Out with Bob and Wayne" ("no women folk allowed") donated by Bob Kellar and Wayne Crawford fetched $2,100. The item featured a barbecue dinner, cigars and scotch for the purchaser and 11 "buddies."

Money was also raised during the "Fund a Scout" pledge where attendees could offer up pledges of $1,000, $500 and $250.

Jim McGrory, Bill Hart District chairman, said the auctions will net nearly $50,000 for the District.

"A big reason why this year's event did so well is because our units stepped up and supported the event," McGrory said.

More than 30 scouts from the district at the event represented the District during the flag presentation and pledge of allegiance and recited the Scout Oath and Scout Law before the honoree presentations. In addition, scouts served as auction runners during the evening.

Emcee for the evening was Arif Halaby, president and CEO of Total Financial Solutions, Inc., the title sponsor of the event.

"We honor three of Santa Clairta's premiere leaders of character tonight," Halaby said.

Scout Executive Jim Rushton said the three were selected "because through their devotion to family, faith and community they exemplify the traits of the Scout Law: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."

"Through our involvement as committed Scouting volunteers we are privileged to see successes and breakthroughs in the lives of the boys we serve," Rushton said. "On this night we take great pride in saluting our 2008 Leaders of Character. Thank you for supporting the future leaders of character through your support."

Randy Wrage presented Larry and Peggy Rasmussen as a slide show of family photos of the couple played out on the big screen.

As Peggy received a large bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, Larry stepped to the podium and told the crowd about the impact Scouting left on his character.

An Eagle Scout, Larry Rasmussen proudly wore his Eagle Scout lapel pin and told the audience of the many camping trips he took monthly as a scout and how the experience developed his character.

He also credited his father's example and the many "opportunities" he had growing up to "mow lawns" and perform other household chores.

Larry Rasmussen is the president of Spirit Holding and Spirit Properties, the developer of Centre Pointe Business Park. He was named No. 1 in The Signal's "Most Influential" list of 2007. Peggy Rasmussen is a former interior designer and now works as the office manager for Spirit Holding.

Tom Petersen, one of the Petersen's four children, and the father of an Eagle Scout, introduced his parents as a slide show featuring the Petersen family played on the large screens.

Jacquie and Harold Petersen, married 59 years, took the podium together and immediately engaged in the kind of amusing back-and-forth banter reserved for couples in decades-long marriages.

In addition to their four children, the couple has 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Prior to the recognition dinner the family gathered to celebrate the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Eric Petersen.

"It seemed like an appropriate day to have Eric's Court of Honor," said Jacquie Petersen." "All the family is together today."

The Petersens moved to the SCV in 2001 and have since become strong community supporters.

Jacquie Petersen also has served as a Girl Scout leader, as well as being involved with American Red Cross, the John Tracey Clinic, the American Heart Fund, American Cancer Society, College of the Canyons, Boy Scouts of America, SCV Boys and Girls Club and the Child and Family Center.

Harold Petersen is the founder of Petersen International Underwriters.

Gary Condie, a previous Leader of Character honoree, presented Bob Kellar.

Kellar, called his companion, Kathy Keysor Smith to join him on stage.

"Seeing all these other couples, this woman should be up here with me, too," he said.

He spoke about his service in Vietnam when he enlisted in the United States Army in 1965 and his 25 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. He currently is an owner of Kellar-Davis Real Estate and mayor of Santa Clarita.

Previous Leaders of Character honorees include the 2006 Leaders of Character, Gary and Myrna Condie, Kevin and Marilyn Malone and Larry and Sue Mankin and the 2007 Leaders of Character, Jim Ventress, Carl and Jeri Goldman and Dianne and Roger Van Hook.

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