YC man wins One Nation category
Don Lehman retired from his military career in 1984, and his teaching career three years later.
Retirement to Lehman, though, never quite took the way it does for some. Instead of spending leisurely days on a fishing boat or traveling around the world, Lehman has remained content to stay close to his Yuba City home, active in dozens of community organizations that take up nearly as much of his week that a job would.
"I don't spend too much time doing everything anymore," 78-year-old Lehman said, citing health complications and devoting more time trying to improve his golf game. "It's worth the time, though."
He estimated spending "only" around 15 to 20 hours a week doing various acts of community service.
"When we retired, our kids tried to get us to move but we couldn't pack up everything and leave," Lehman said, adding that his two daughters, Alice and Janet, had settled in North Carolina with careers and families of their own. "I'm a real proponent of the area. I think there's a pretty strong sense of community here."
Lehman has an esteemed military history in both the U.S. Marine Corps, as a corporal, and the Army, as a brigadier general. He still sports the buzz cut to prove it, and gives out a scholar athlete award at area high schools around graduation time.
"I used to go in uniform, but they tend to shrink as you get older," Lehman said, adding that he donated his old uniforms to the Museum of the Forgotten Soldier in Linda.
In 1948, at the urging of his new bride, Janet, Lehman finished a degree in agriculture education at the University of California, Davis. Following his graduation, he worked as a ranch manager in Colusa and Woodland and spent 13 years teaching agriculture courses at Yuba College, eventually becoming the assistant dean of agricultural and vocational sciences.
Over the years he has become passionate about helping the youth of the community through his involvement in the Rotary Club and the Boy Scouts.
"I really believe in the Boy Scout movement and how they progress the way they have," Lehman said. "I'm a real proponent of the Eagle rank." While he never made it to the rank of Eagle Scout himself, he sits on the Eagle review board and works with troops in the area.
Lehman said working with young people in the community was important to him, and he tried to appreciate movements in mainstream culture usually identified with younger generations.
"Young people are definitely more in tune with the times," Lehman said. "I'm not one for tattooing or long hair and ponytails, but if we (the older generation) give them (youth) our ideas and listen to theirs we can come to an understanding and work it all out together."
Lehman has a laundry list of other involvements in the community, including volunteering at events with St. John's Episcopal Church in Marysville, presiding over the local prostate cancer awareness group and helping organize the annual Relay for Life event.
"I like to deal with people who are honest and we can work together to do some good," Lehman said. "I like to help people where I can."
He wears a lapel pin advocating both prostate and breast cancer awareness, commemorating his personal battle with cancer, as well as his daughter Janet's fights with breast and ovarian cancer.
A lifelong blood donor, Lehman had to give up donating just short of 100 pints after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and myelodisplasia, a blood disorder, in 1998. He is currently one of eight patients participating in a clinical study at Stanford University, and has a friend driving him to the central coast every other week for treatments, performing a great service to him.
"I've had years of blood transfusions with all of my time in hospitals," Lehman joked. "So it's all coming back to me now."
Lehman admitted to still not fully retiring, working as a ranch manager of the Bear River Hop Farm horse ranch in Wheatland.
"I think I'm only going to do that until the end of the year," Lehman said. "As long as it doesn't take away from my golf."
Lehman credits the majority of his volunteer work to his personal avoidance of turning people down.
"I don't have enough sense to say 'no,'" Lehman said. "I think if people are asking for help, they must need the help."
He explained that while he encourages residents to offer their assistance to the community, he understands that some people's interests lie in other fields.
"If you hate to do it, that's another story, you shouldn't force yourself to get involved," Lehman said. "I'm not much of a hero, but I have fun doing all the things I do."
One Nation: Don Lehman
Category: One Nation
Nominee: Donald E. Lehman
Nominator: Janet Lehman
It is with great pleasure and pride that I nominate Don Lehman for the One Nation Spirit of Freedom Award 2002.
Known as a "doer and giver" who doesn't toot his own horn, Don Lehman spends many hours quietly doing whatever is needed and has always been ready to lend a helping hand. When asked to do something, the word "no" is not in his vocabulary.
Don has performed, and continues to perform, outstanding volunteer services to his community without any thought of personal gain or self enhancement. He does it because he wants to, because he believes in it and he believes it is the right thing to do.
He served as president of the Buttes Area Council, Boy Scouts of America for two years, plus numerous committee assignments leading to his receiving the Silver Beaver Award in 1986.
He has been the president of St. John's Men's Club twice, served on the vestry, spent many hours on the construction of its Habitat for Humanity House and helped with the California Dried Plum Festival activities of the church.
Don served as president of both the Colusa and South Yuba Linda Rotary clubs, was district governor of Rotary District 5180 for 1996-97, and was chairman of the flood relief efforts of the Rotary district after our last flood.
While he lived in Colusa from 1960 to 1974, he was president of the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce, Colusa County Taxpayers Association, Colusa Unified School District Board of Trustees, and was leader of Boy Scouts Explorer Post No. 9.
Don was presented with the Pedro Award in 1997 by the local United Way for his community efforts and activities.
After serving 38 years on active and reserve military service, initially in the U.S. Marine Corps as a paratrooper for nine years and then in the U.S. Army Reserve after completing the ROTC program at the University of California, Davis, he retired as a brigadier general with a duty station in the Pentagon as deputy chief of the Army Reserve (MOBDES) in 1984.
After donating 97 pints of blood to the blood bank in Marysville, he could not give any more after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and myelodisplasia, a blood disorder.
Despite his illness, he has continued to serve his community by being an active member of the board of trustees for the Yuba College Foundation, board of trustees of Pathways, president of the Man to Man Prostate Support Group, and is still active in the Boy Scouts of America, Rotary, Relay for Life, and helping whenever and wherever he can in our community.