Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rick Gonzales named Citizen of the Year

Davis Citizen of the Year Rick Gonzales is surrounded by his family, including his wife Erlinda and his grandchildren. On the couch are, from left, Analiza Martinez, 16; Cruz Gonzales, 3; and Rosalie Martinez, 20. On the floor are Riana Gonzales, 7, and Ricky Gonzales, 13. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | November 16, 2012 |

Rick Gonzales Jr., who has raised more than $250,000 for scholarships for Latino high school students in Yolo County, has been selected as the winner of the C.A. Covell Trophy, the Davis Citizen of the Year.

“Our annual Concilio dinner in the fall” — which raises much of the money that funds the scholarships — “has taken on a life of its own, and has grown by leaps and bounds,” Gonzales said. “The students that we recognize with scholarships are the leaders of tomorrow, and I’m happy we can play a small role in helping them reach their higher education.”

A total of 575 students have received college grants from the Mexican American Concilio of Yolo County in the past 12 years.

The Concilio has been a Gonzales family tradition. Gonzales’ father, Rick Gonzales Sr., co-founded the organization decades ago; he died in 2004.

The younger Gonzales says the Citizen of the Year award is also a recognition of the work his father began. “I think my Pop is looking down. He’d be so pleased that his legacy continues,” Gonzales said. “He’s the reason we do what we do.”

In its early years, the Concilio advocated for social justice and equality. Starting in 2000, the organization began awarding scholarships to graduating high school students.

“That first year, we had two scholarships,” Gonzales said. This year, he has a goal of 55 scholarships, to be awarded to students graduating from high schools in Davis, Woodland, Winters, Esparto and West Sacramento.

Over the years, Gonzales also helped establish the city of Davis Human Relations Commission, which came into being after the racially motivated slaying of Davis High School student Thong Hy Huynh, who was stabbed to death on campus in 1983. The Davis City Council established the commission in response, charging it to build respect and mutual understanding in the community.

Gonzales was a charter member of the commission and an active participant for eight years as it developed a report examining racial issues in Davis, containing 51 recommendations.

Gonzales also has served for three years as a board member with the Yolo Family Resource Center, and was involved in its “Champions for Children” annual fundraiser. He’s also been active with the Odd Fellows of Davis, helping with bingo fundraisers and other activities.

Other involvement includes the Davis Progressive Business Exchange, the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network, the Davis Joint Unified School District’s Targeted Assistance Group and the Woodland Community College Puente Program. He’s also been active as a youth sports coach and a community mediator.

“Throughout his life, Rick has embodied a civic spirit in his many charitable activities,” Bill Ritter wrote in his nomination letter. “His fundraising skills are legendary. He is dependable and a committed citizen who, when he takes on a task, big or small, sees it through to completion.”

Born in San Francisco, Gonzales was raised in Woodland, and graduated from Woodland High School. He then joined the U.S. Army, serving in Vietnam and Germany. Returning to California, he attended Sacramento City College and Sacramento State. He then became a teacher (and in some years a vice principal) in the Sacramento City Unified School District, teaching at Sacramento High, Luther Burbank High and several elementary schools.

Gonzales and his wife Erlinda moved to Davis in 1975, and their children attended local schools. Over time, he became more and more active in the Concilio, and advancing the cause of minorities in what is generally seen as a predominantly white college town.

Gonzales recalls volunteering to organize a minority career day at Holmes Junior High, which his children attended, in 1990. “The vice principal at that time told me that there weren’t enough minority people in professional positions to make for a good career day,” Gonzales remembers. “So I produced 50 people of color to fill that career day. It was a very succesful event.

“The biggest motivator for me,” he added, “is when somebody tells me I can’t do something. Then I feel I can prove otherwise. I’ve done that over and over again.”

Gonzales retired from teaching several years ago and devoted himself to expanding the Concilio’s scholarship program, and closing the achievement gap between different ethnic and demographic groups in the local schools.

“I hope that one day we produces a document on how we closed this gap,” he said. “This is such a shame that we still have a big achievement gap in Davis. It’s almost incongruent — we have high test scores, but we still leave out a group of students, for whatever reason. That gap needs to be closed.”

The C.A. Covell Citizen of the Year Award has been given annually since the 1940s, and Gonzales appears to be the first recipient from a Hispanic/Latino background.

“I’m honored to be chosen,” he said. “I hope to be a good ambassador representing the city of Davis in my many endeavors and committee work. We’re all on this journey, and my journey has taken me throughout Davis, meeting people along the way. I feel that every board I’ve served on, I’ve come to the table with ideas and input. I feel good about moving a committee forward. I am action-oriented; I have some energy.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at or 530-747-8055.



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Marcy finds her place in the DHS Hall of Fame

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Learn about Girl Scouting at meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Low-income Davis homeowners can save money and go green

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Prospective foster parents welcome

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis Media Access: Get involved in community media

    By Autumn Labbe-Renault | From Page: A4

    ‘Art of Acting’ offered at Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Tai chi classes set at Davis Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Do you have a project for the noon Rotary club?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Stroll Through History highlights Beamer Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    All are welcome at monthly sing-along

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Hosts sought to befriend international visitors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Museum wants your old Davis High School yearbooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9



    Perfectly good playground?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Work on gun control instead

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Military has too much money

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Put flowers in our hair

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Give cops the ability to protect

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Don’t let MRAP be a tool for bigger mistakes

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Yes, mother’s milk is best

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    Gould, Shaw won’t dwell on it, but Biggs remembers The Upset

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    No. 8 keeps Republic unbeaten streak at 8

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS boys look to win seventh soccer section title

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    New attitude, new stadium for 2014 UCD field hockey

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sports briefs: Aggie men ranked 11th in water polo poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Dunning picks Cupcake Week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Youth roundup: Judges like what they see from Davis Diamonds

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: Huge inning helps Cats in Nashville

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8



    Local teacher and artist turns 100

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    100 years’ worth of stories

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A10 | Gallery



    Ethereal dream pop to illuminate Sophia’s Thai Kitchen

    By Anthony Siino | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Outdoor art classes to close out summer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Well-known artist will be juror for exhibition

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A11







    Comics: Thursday, August 28, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6