Nearly 400 business, political and non-profit chiefs attended the 19th annual Justice Armand Arabian Leaders in Public Service Awards luncheon on Thursday, although it was the first without the former California Supreme Court Justice after whom the awards are named.
Armand Arabian died in March at age 83. A video tribute was given by Rickey Gelb, a longtime friend and co-producer of the event. Arabian was a lawyer, deputy district attorney and Superior Court judge before he became an associate justice on the state Supreme Court in 1990.
Arabian was known for his civic work, particularly on behalf of sexual assault victims. Gelb said the idea for the awards was hatched during a conversation among Arabian, Gelb of the Gelb Group real estate firm and Karl Boeckmann of Galpin Motors. They wanted to honor those who perform significant community service but who are not always recognized.
The seven recipients: former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck; Grossman Burn Center Chief Executive Dr. Peter Grossman; women’s issues activist Judith Hirshberg; Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson; former Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter; Valley News Group Publisher Kathleen Sterling, and realtor and former NFL football player Mel Wilson.
Encino Chamber Chief Executive Diana Dueñas offered welcoming remarks; the chamber puts on the event. Wink Martindale, the former television game show host, was the master of ceremonies. Coco Dolenz, who works at the Gelb Group and is a singer (she is the sister of Micky Dolenz of the Monkees) sang “God Bless America.”
In addition, scholarships were awarded to three students: Dakota Michael Rose, Rosemarie Pacheco and Jonathan Barragan.