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As a community activist involved in several organizations, including her day job as the executive director of the North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center, Ann McCarty is accustomed to speaking in front of crowds.

On Wednesday night, however, she wasn’t up to the task.

“Normally I have lots to say, but I am absolutely 100-percent blown away,” she said as she wiped tears from her face.

McCarty’s comments came moments after she was announced as the 2018 Lompoc Valley Woman of the Year during a banquet hosted by the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center. The dinner ceremony, which was attended by about 150 people, concluded with another emotional reveal when the late Linual White Jr., a former Lompoc Fire chief and community volunteer, was posthumously named this year’s Lompoc Valley Man of the Year.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank you,” Carol White, Linual’s widow, said after accepting the honor on his behalf. “We’re still here and we’re gonna stay here.”

Both recipients received standing ovations after their awards were announced.

McCarty was recognized for her longstanding involvement in the community. In addition to her role with the Rape Crisis Center, she has been a longtime member of the Vandenberg Village Lions Club; a 15-year volunteer with the Every 15 Minutes Program, which encourages teens to make smart decisions when it comes to drinking and driving; a judge of senior projects at Cabrillo High School; and a volunteer appointee to the city’s public safety commission.

McCarty, who said she has a “passion to serve,” noted that those activities aren’t a burden for her.

“I do what I do because I love it,” she said. “I do what I do because I work with an amazing group of women.”

White, who retired as Lompoc Fire chief in 2009, died on Dec. 6, 2017 after a battle with cancer.

He was remembered during Wednesday’s ceremony as a caring and compassionate man who was a great friend and regularly put others before himself.

Bob Campbell, last year’s Lompoc Valley Man of the Year, revealed White’s selection after reading some of the letters that were submitted in support of White for this year’s honor. Campbell said he had previously read all of the letters submitted on behalf of White and quickly noticed a trend.

“The one word that popped up in most all of those letters was the word ‘selfless,’” Campbell said. “In my mind, that’s the mark of a man that truly deserves this recognition.”

White, who moved with his wife to the Lompoc Valley in 2002 when he accepted the top position within the Lompoc Fire Department, was involved in many other aspects of the community.

He served on the Lompoc Public Library’s board of trustees; on the executive board of the Lompoc Valley Community Health Organization; was a founding member of the Turducken Dinner Group, through which he helped raise more than $400,000 for the Lompoc Library; and also served on a citizen’s advisory board for Hancock College, a position through which he was instrumental in helping the college build its Public Safety Training Complex on the Lompoc Valley campus.

“Mr. White always looked for ways to give back to the community he loved,” Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl said, while reading a proclamation that was presented to Carol White from the city.

Other awards handed out by the Chamber at the ceremony included:

  • The Economic Vitality Award, which went to Grocery Outlet Bargain Market and was accepted by co-owners Aaron and Alix Crocker;
  • The Chamber Volunteer of Year Award, which went to Sandy Skinner, who has volunteered at the Chamber since 1975; and
  • The Small Business Excellence Award, which went to Scratch Kitchen and was accepted by co-owner and chef Augusto Caudillo.

Kay Casey, last year's woman of the year, introduced McCarty during Wednesday's ceremony.

White is the second posthumous Man of the Year honoree in the last three years. The late Ron Fairbanks was selected for the title in 2016.

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Reporter

Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base, for Lee Central Coast News. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.