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Duo honored by chamber

Hammerstad, Puskas given group's top 2012 recognition

Two of Lake Oswego's most outstanding leaders were honored at the 2012 Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner and Auction Wednesday night.

Judie Hammerstad, former mayor of Lake Oswego, received the Bob Bigelow Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mary Puskas, executive director of the Lake Oswego School District Foundation, was honored as Community Leader of the Year.

Both women were cited for their huge contributions to this city's government, growth, culture and education.

'Mayor Judie' served as Lake Oswego's mayor from 2001 through the end of 2008, but she has served the community in many capacities - school board member, Oregon state representative, Clackamas County commissioner and Marylhurst University Board of Trustees member.

Hammerstad has received several prestigious honors for her service, including the Lake Oswego Community Leader of the Year, Lake Oswego Rotary Vocational Service Award and Clackamas Chamber of Commerce President's Award.

Bill Korach, superintendent of the Lake Oswego School District, had high praise for Hammerstad when she was presented the latest honor, calling her 'a very special person.'

Korach said, 'Judie certainly knows about the joys and challenges of being a community leader - taking initiative, being accountable, caring deeply, giving back. She is a great example of the passion, heart, commitment and assertive spirit that it takes to be an outstanding leader in public service.'

Korach praised Hammerstad for her visionary passion, steadfast integrity, deep commitment and value-driven leadership, and for fully exemplifying the example of the late Bob Bigelow, a former publisher of the Lake Oswego Review, for whom the award was named.

There are many examples of the contributions Puskas has made to the Lake Oswego School District over nearly 20 years. One of the greatest is that the LOSD Foundation has raised $18.5 million since it started in 1993.

'Rarely has someone been more deserving of this award,' said Mark Birge, who presented the honor.

While Puskas's enrichment of the lives of thousands of students is somewhat measurable, Birge noted that her personal qualities are what contributed most to her great success as a Lake Oswego community leader.

'Mary is probably the kindest person I have ever met,' Birge said. 'She is full of life, energy and love. There is no task too daunting for her. She has an amazing ability to find the right people to do a project and then she gets out of the way.

'She is always shining the spotlight on others and really believes that the common good is more important than individual acclaim.'

While Birge noted that Puskas has an easygoing exterior, he said, 'She can be fearless when it's warranted.'

Other outstanding citizens and businesses were also honored at the awards dinner. They were:

* Chamber Champion - Ramsey Zawideh.

* Denton Small Business Award - Crave Bake Shop.

* Denton Large Business Award - Albertsons

* Rookie of the Year - Mark Tipperreiter.

* Networker of the Year - David Morris.

* Headlee Beautification Award - Deanna Bitar, Bannette Properties LLC.

* Fortuna Award (outstanding contribution by a business to public art) - Paul and Terri Graham.

All honorees were acclaimed by Chuck O'Leary, president of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

'Here in Lake Oswego we're blessed with an energetic business community that pulls together for the good of all, recognizing that a 'rising tide raises all ships.'' O'Leary said. 'Because of this selfless dedication and hard work, our community remains strong, dynamic and vibrant.

'Our annual dinner is more than acknowledging chamber members. It honors and celebrates all our citizens who give of themselves and share the loftiest ideals and special spirit of community.'

As is the tradition, the chamber awards dinner was held at the Oswego Lake Country Club. The event also served as a major fundraiser for the chamber through a silent auction of items donated by local businesses.

The theme for this year's special event was 'Passport to Success.'