Dianne and Dudley Davis, recognized with the Dr. Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, were applauded by the crowd and Chamber Chair Marilyn Appleby (right) for their dedication to the community.

Dianne & Dudley Davis receive Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award

March 08, 2017
Santa Paula News

A vision that filled the Downtown with flowers led to Dianne and Dudley Davis being honored with the 2016 Dr. Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Chamber of Commerce.

Held March 1 at the Community Center, the awards dinner featured the State of the City Address by Mayor Jenny Crosswhite. Chamber honors were awarded to Citizen of the Year Harold Edwards, for Community Service Award to Elvia Hernandez and Carlos Juarez, Non-Profit of the Year Blanchard Community Library, Business Beautification Award — Santa Paula Orthodontics Jared T. Lee, DDS MS, Small Business of the Year Red Hot Foods/Santa Paula Salas Co. Burma and Butch Baselice and Large Business of the Year Bank of the Sierra. 

Chamber CEO Jack Pitluk welcomed the crowd and introduced Chamber President Marilyn Appleby and emcee John Chamberlain. Many elected officials and community leaders peppered the crowd including Supervisor Kelly Long, Vice Mayor Ginger Gherardi and Councilmembers Clint Garman, Martin Hernandez and John Procter.

America in Bloom President Gary Nasalroad introduced Dianne and Dudley Davis, former owners of Do Right’s Plant Nursery whose love of flowers and growing things is now evident throughout the city.

“Our city was very fortunate to have the Davis’, who had a vision about eight years ago about what could be done to enhance the beauty of our city.

“Years ago,” said Nasalroad, “when I was taking a walk by their home, they asked me about joining them in starting America in Bloom,” a national organization focused on beautifying cities to eliminate blight, spur economic development and bring natural beauty to communities.

“Being an avid gardener, I thought why not? Little did we know when we had an AIB rollout meeting we’d have 75 people show up at that initial meeting, which proved to us there was community interest.”

The newly formed AIB group plotted and planned beautification projects but noted Nasalroad, “One of the first things we realized was this small board of five could not undertake all we wanted to do.” 

But help was on the way with partnerships forged with Future Farmers of America and its coordinator Alex Flores, as well as other organizations and service clubs.

“We could not do it without the help,” that Nasalroad said includes the “close relationship we have with Ed Mount,” the city’s Recreation Director.

“He always helps us and we very much appreciate the relationship with the city,” which has also benefitted from AIB Santa Paula beautification projects.

“The result of that vision that Dianne and Dudley had for the city, it’s all around you…the hanging flower baskets, more than 140, planters with flowers, planting projects we’ve undertaken,” that encompass Blanchard Community Library, City Hall, Community Center, the old county fire station, and traffic isles at schools are just a few of the examples of AIB efforts which Nasalroad said occur at least twice a year.

There are also smaller projects tackled by AIB.

Nasalroad noted the couple “sold their Do Right’s Plant Nursery to Armstrong but that didn’t stop their nursery endeavors as you can see when you visit their home with their beautiful backyard,” with Dianne’s flowers and succulents.

In fact, Dianne teaches succulent workshops where students are taught how to create decorative and unusual displays with the drought tolerant plants. And, AIB now holds regular succulent sales as a fundraiser and way to encourage people to landscape and decorate with the plants. 

“I can think of no one,” said Nasalroad, “that has had more of a visual impact on the city than the Davis’. AIB has received very high marks for our efforts,” including a National Award as well as special honors for Dianne.

“She received an AIB national Champion Award for what she has done for our city, that is quite an accomplishment.”

The Davis’ have been recognized many times for their efforts, which resulted for what they saw could be done with flowers and plants.

Said Nasalroad, “They had a vision for the community and provided the funds and effort and I’m proud to present the Dr. Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award to Dianne and Dudley!”

“This is quite an honor,” said Dianne. “We thank the chamber, AIB board and volunteers as well as Armstrong growers for maintaining the hanging baskets…they bought a water truck,” to continue taking care of the flower displays.

“We also thank those that have donated and help support by sponsoring the hanging flower baskets. It’s because of that support,” that Dianne said AIB can continue to beautify the city.

“It’s a great honor to be a part of this,” said Dudley. 

The next giant Succulent Sale benefitting America in Bloom will be held April 8 at Santa Paula Salsa Co. on Railroad Avenue.

The Dr. Sam Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award was established in honor of the late physician, rancher and administrator. Known affectionately as “Dr. Sam,” Edwards was widely credited with being a leading force in the county purchasing the bankrupt and shuttered Santa Paula Memorial Hospital in 2003. The facility was reopened in 2006 as Santa Paula Hospital under the Ventura County Medical Center and Health Care Agency. 

His widow Marcia was at the chamber event with her son Harold, the 2016 Citizen of the Year. 

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