Larry Saunders Service Award Winner Announced

Ellie Wilson Wins 2023 Larry Saunders Community Service Award


Ellie Wilson wins the 2023 Larry Saunders Service Award

Eleanor “Ellie” Wilson has been blazing her trail with institutional and community landmarks for nearly fifty years. From graduation at San José State, the founding campus of California’s university system and earlier times of extensive teaching and travel, raising a family and guiding her children in creative stride through Clover Park Schools with PTSA, and legislative liaison for elementary education, she found time to welcome foreign exchange students to American life, offer tutoring assistance to dozens of children, lead levy funding campaigns for a decade, establish the Discovery Science curriculum for elementary grades, and help found Lakewood’s non-profit Communities in Schools. It’s little wonder industrious Ellie was honored by the award of Washington’s prestigious Golden Acorn in 1988. Added to Ellie’s record of civic achievement is her contribution to the successful incorporation of Lakewood. Recently, Ellie has applied her “can do” skills to provide organizational leadership for the Claudia Thomas Habitat for Humanity construction of affordable housing in Tillicum. Ellie’s vision and commitment have brought people and resource together with high purpose and lasting accomplishment over a half century of community service. Distinguished always by her calmness and courage, Elleanor Wilson has shown the way, that to attempt is to achieve. 


      Honoring Ellie’s community service interests, this year’s companion grant of $1,000 will go to Communities in Schools of Lakewood.   



a brief historical record

The first Larry Saunders Service Award, recognizing Diane Formoso for (Caring for Kids) service to community in 2017, was presented at the first regular City Council meeting of the new year following, 1/16/2018.



City Volunteer of the Year (believed named to honor LTG Wm H. Harrison, 2004 - 2007): 

  • 2004   Diane Formoso (Caring For Kids); 4/4/2005; CC meeting.
  • 2005   Mike Kanter (organized National Night Out events); 4/17/2006 CC meeting.
  • 2006   Sandy & Jean Mazzei, (clearing signs from utility poles): 4/16/2007 CC meeting.
  • 2007   Janne Hutchins, (LASA): 7/7/2008 CC meeting.
  • 2008 - 2013   No record of award.
  • 2014    City Council began a Volunteer Recognition Breakfast for civic volunteers,                     together with members of all Boards, Commissions and Neighborhood Associations

   (James Taylor); 12/3/2014.

  • 2015   Lakewood Volunteer Recognition Breakfast (Phil Raschke); 12/8/2015.
  • 2016   Lakewood Volunteer Recognition Breakfast (Vol/Yr Unknown); 4/17/2017 (?).


Larry Saunders Service Award

  • 2017   Diane Formoso (Caring For Kids) - Larry Saunders Service Award; first

   presentation 1/16/2018; Grant to Caring For Kids.

  • 2018   Rotary Club of Lakewood - Larry Saunders Service Award; second presentation       1/15/2019; Grant to Springbrook Connections.
  • 2019   J. Alan Billingsley, Clover Park Rotary; Larry Saunders Service Award; third    presentation 1/21/2020; Grant to (rehab project) South Puget Sound Wildlife Area.
  • 2020   The Selden Family, Lakewood Rotary; Larry Saunders Service Award; fourth presentation 1/19/2021, Grant to West Pierce CARES.
  • 2021   Doubled Larry Saunders Service Award; fifth presentation 1/18/2022, first award: First Mayor LTG Wm H. Harrison, Grant to Communities in Schools; and second award, and Grant to Partners for Parks.
  • 2022    McFadden Brothers; Larry Saunders Service Award; sixth presentation 1/17/2023, Grant to Oakbrook Swim & Tennis Club.
  • 2023    Eleanor “Ellie” Wilson, Larry Saunders Service Award; seventh presentation 1/16/2024; grant to Communities In Schools of Lakewood.    
  • 2024    TBD – Larry Saunders Service Award; eighth presentation 1/21/2025; grant to TBD.