Rotary names Suzi Maki, Jim Peterson Grand Lake Citizens of the Year |

Rotary names Suzi Maki, Jim Peterson Grand Lake Citizens of the Year

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado


For the first time, a husband and wife team were chosen for the “Grand Lake Rotary Citizen of the Year” award.

Granted to them for their volunteerism and energetic presence in the community for 15 years, Jim Peterson and Suzi Maki accepted the award Saturday night during an awards dinner at the Western Riviera Lakeside Events Center.

“Not only does Jimmy volunteer for many things on his own, but we all know that when Suzi volunteers for something that she comes as a package deal,” said friend and colleague Andrea Cox during her presentation speech, “that Jimmy will be up for helping too.”

The couple was praised for their involvement in Grand Lake that stretches from the Grand Arts Council and the Grand Lake Repertory Theatre to the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce and town government.

Peterson, owner of the Grand Design painting business, has served as a town trustee since 1997.

“He always comes up with a joke, and he always sees the lighter side of things,” said Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke during her speech. “He loves his town and he loves his family, and he gives of himself every time he has an opportunity,” she said. “We can always count on him, and that’s the type of people we have in Grand Lake.”

Maki is a real estate broker at Re/Max Resorts of Grand County in Grand Lake.

“I had always admired Suzi, but working with her has been such a pleasure with her wonderful upbeat spirit,” Cox said. “Suzi supports the community in too many ways to count.”

And each of them has been known to dress up in zany costumes during Grand Lake events.

“Suzi is often seen around town as a saloon girl, a can-can girl and a belly dancer,” Cox pointed out.

Likewise, Peterson “looks wonderful in a tu-tu, in black wigs with braids or either as a pirate or a hippie,” Burke said.

Former “Citizen of the Year” award recipient Doris Braun characterized the couple as “strong” and “good people.”

Peterson and Maki are the parents of Zack Peterson, the young man who suffered a spinal cord injury from a single-car accident near Grand Lake on July 13, 2008. The injury left him paralyzed from the chest down.

“It’s Zack’s 20th birthday tomorrow,” Maki announced to the room of community members after receiving the award with her husband.

Peterson and Maki had welcomed their son home to Grand Lake after his lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation exactly one year ago to the day of Saturday’s awards dinner.

Zack was in attendance at his parents’ table Saturday night.

“We’ve learned so much this year,” Maki said. “We’ve learned to never, never give up. Ever,” she said.

Earlier, Cox had spoken of the testament to both Peterson and Maki, that when Zack was injured, everyone “moved into action immediately.”

“Suzi and Jimmy have done so much for so many people in the community,” she said.

After asking, “Where is Kanye West when you need him?” – referring to West’s conduct at the Video Music Awards recently – Peterson deflected the honor back to community members in the room, saying they themselves are all “Citizens of the Year” in his eyes.

“They say family is forever, and I’ll tell you what, you are all family,” Maki said.

The Grand Lake Rotary Club’s Citizen of the Year award dinner is an annual event in Grand Lake. Past honorees are Ellen Capps, Gene Stover, Doris Braun, Bob Scott, Marvin Fischer and the late Louis Heckert.