YMCA gives inaugural service award to Ron Kolar

DOWNEY - On June 11, the Downey YMCA honored Ron Kolar with the inaugural Exceptional Service Award, the highest award given by the Downey YMCA. Kolar was recognized at an awards banquet that raised more than $30,500 for the Y.The following write-up highlighting Kolar's contributions to the YMCA was written by the Downey YMCA and provided to the Patriot: Downey is described as a unique city in the heart of Southern California that is a place of pride, history, involvement, and community. Ask residents familiar with the city and they will tell you that this is not by mere happenstance, but as a result of efforts by active, dedicated and hard working community-minded leaders. One of these distinguished leaders, of course, is Ron Kolar. For the past 52 years, Ron has called Downey home. Born in Hastings, Nebraska, Ron moved to the Glendale area when he was in junior high school. He attended Eagle Rock High School, Glendale Junior College and the University of Southern California, where he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in business administration. In 1959, Ron settled in Downey because he says, "it was a nice community with a convenient location and had many fellow USC alumni". In 1972, he established L'Abri Management, Inc. The challenges and measurable results as a Certified Property Manager have always appealed to Ron. He began his business on Florence Avenue with a card table and one secretary; the Downey-based L'Abri now has more than 200 employees. It holds the highest designation given by the Institute of Real Estate Management as an Accredited Management Organization. L'Abri manages properties mainly in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernadino and Riverside Counties. L'Abri is a French word meaning "shelter". Ron chose the name because of his admiration for one of his favorite authors, Dr. Francis Schaeffer. Dr. Schaeffer was a theologian who founded L'Abri Communal Referral Center in Switzerland. From this study center, individuals could seek answers to questions about God and the significance of human life. Dr. Schaeffer's book, L'Abri, can be found on a coffee table in Ron's office. Ron resides in Rancho Mirage, with his wife, Kathy, and daughter Kelsey, a student at Point Loma Nazarene University. He also maintains a home in Downey. He attends the First Christian Church of Downey and the Southwest Community Church in Palm Desert.His Christian faith has shaped his strong ethics, and guided him through good and tough times. Ron's children and wife, Kathy, are a continuing source of pride and joy. His grown children include a son, Troy; daughters Kouy and Kelsey; and step-children Jacob Bullock and Kati Duarte. Ron's wife Kathy is an excellent golfer and also enjoys hiking and spending time with her grandchildren. Ron is an avid golfer as well, and the family has memberships at both Candlewood and Morningside Country Clubs. Along with his family, Ron takes great pride in his community service, including the many hours given to the Downey Family YMCA. Ron's involvement with the Y started in the 1970's initially as a Y-Indian Guide dad; in 1978, he served as the Sunset Nation Chief. In 1980, with the urging of his friend Bob Brazelton, Ron joined the Y's annual fundraising campaign and later the Board of Managers. Since joining the board of managers, Ron has held many leadership positions including Treasurer, Major Gifts Chair, and Board Chair. He was instrumental in the opening of the Y Gymnastics and Dance Center on Firestone Boulevard, which served over 850 boys and girls. In the mid-80's Ron chaired and participated in several YMCA auctions, generously donating several of his classic cars to the events. Ron is a founding member of the Downey YMCA's Chairman's Round Table and Lifetime Chairman's Round Table; he is also recognized as a member of the Los Angeles YMCA's George Williams Society, for his significant lifetime giving. In 1992, Ron was given the highest honor by the Los Angeles YMCA and was cited to the Golden Book of Distinguished Service. He was honored for "balancing his contributions as a program leader with those as a policy maker." The citation to Ron read, in part, "…Few people in the history of the entire Association have demonstrated as broad a degree of volunteerism. His record of service on every conceivable level - from Y-Indian Guide Nation Chief to Board Chairman; from Basketball Coach to Chair of the Chairman's Round Table - is virtually without equal". In addition to his tremendous support of the Y, Ron gives with equal enthusiasm throughout the community: past president and past treasurer of the Downey Dolphins Swim Club; Sunday School Teacher at Downey First Baptist Church; Chairman of the Citizen's Committee that built a new Olympic-size community swimming pool; past Chairman of the Memorial Trust Foundation of Trustees for Downey Community Hospital, Chairman of the Charter Ball of Downey Community Hospital, and past Chairman of the DRMC Corporate Board and Hospital Board. For more than 25 years, Ron has also been a member of the Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis. Fellow Kiwanian Hal Nelson has described Ron as "one of the most generous men we have in the club. He was a superb (club) president. He is a very kind man and a real asset to the club, community and hospital". Ron truly exemplifies the YMCA's Christian mission and has provided enduring and significant leadership to the Downey Family YMCA and the community. He has generously shared his personal talents and treasures well beyond anyone's expectations. We congratulate Ron on being the first honoree of the Downey YMCA's Exceptional Service Award.

********** Published: July 7, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 12