Rotary names Cervenka ‘Citizen of the Year’
October 20, 2010
A former “rocket scientist” has been chosen for the Grand Lake Citizen of the Year award.
Jim Cervenka, co-owner of the Grand Lake Art Gallery with wife Liza, was honored on Oct. 16 at the Lakeside Retreat Center in Grand Lake for his “faithful service to the community” through an annual Rotary Club award presentation.
“What amazes me is that Jim values the quality of our Grand Lake and its people so much that he literally pitches in whenever he can to make it a better life for all of us,” said past Citizen of the Year Award recipient Elin Capps, who serves on the Grand Lake Area Historical Society board with Cervenka.
“Jim Cervenka loves our community, and he loves all of you,” Capps continued. “And it is reflected in the way he puts great amounts of time and his heart-and-soul into anything he can do… And, because Liza helps him.”
Cervenka moved to Grand Lake full-time in 1991 to “get out of the city” of Denver, exiting a career in engineering at the company Martin Marietta Corporation, now Lockheed Martin. The fall of the Berlin Wall led to his career change, he said, because “a lot of the inspiration to be in the defense industry went away.”
Contrasting the life of a defense engineer, Cervenka took up the life of a skiing enthusiast with a seasonal central reservations accounting job at Winter Park Resort. At the end of the season, Cervenka applied and was hired by the Town of Grand Lake as deputy clerk. He then was employed for five years as Grand Lake’s town clerk, then another five years as Grand Lake’s town manager.
Working for the town, he said sincerely, was as stimulating as being an engineer.
His life in Grand Lake has also been rich with volunteer opportunities, from serving on the Arts Counsel since 1992, to trail building, to helping at the former Grand Lake Recycle Center, to volunteering every winter for the National Sports Center for the Disabled on his snowboard or alpine boards. Cervenka is currently the president of the Grand Lake Area Historical Association.
“I think it’s easier being involved in a small community where you know everybody as opposed to being one of 100,000 in a big city,” Cervenka said, reflecting on his award the day following the award presentation. “Any one person can have a big impact.”
“Jim is a warm and generous man,” said fellow Arts Counsel board member Andrea Cox, who also delivered a speech in honor of Cervenka. “He is an amazing example of the type of committed citizen we should all strive to be.”