Gilroy Hall of Fame Celebration
music in the park san jose

Elementary school students have a music program thanks to one Gilroy Hall of Fame honoree.

Christopher High has a stunning new athletic complex thanks to another.

One man filled the city with flowers and new breeds of seeds, and the fourth helped resolve one of the city’s messiest environmental problems and bring Gilroy Gardens to the city.

Don Christopher, Dale Connell, Glenn Goldsmith, and Bob Kraemer were inducted into the Gilroy Hall of Fame on Saturday, the first honorees since the Chamber of Commerce suspended the annual awards in 1994.

The awards’ “short break” ended with the pile driver-like persistence of Bob Dyer, 82, of R.J. Dyer Real Property Investments, Inc., who wanted the city to recognize “people who worked hard and spent the time to make Gilroy a better place.”

Mike Sanchez cele-

brated the rebirth saying: “Some would say, ‘not bad for down at the end of Silicon Valley.’ I would prefer to say, ‘well done, Gilroy, well done.’”

Don Christopher, founder of the nation’s top family garlic producer and co-founder of the Garlic Festival, donated the land on which Christopher High School was built and provided money to construct its new athletic complex.

He was inspired to donate after seeing the school’s subpar athletic facilities, said Gilroy Foundation executive director Donna Pray, who introduced him.

Christopher also served on the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Advisory Board and the County Planning Commission.

“Don Christopher is a man who demonstrated his commitment to his neighbors and their shared community with consistency and purpose,” Pray said.

Dale Connell was remembered as an ardent supporter of public education. A former president of the Gilroy Unified School District and a teacher himself, Connell donated $1.1 million to the district for music education.

“Dale knew that it’s important that children learn not just with books but with instruments,” said Kurt Michielssen, a senior executive at Pinnacle Bank.

Larry Connell accepted the award on behalf of his father, who passed away in 2013, and honored his philanthro-

pic legacy. 

“When I was a couple years out of college, I had the idea that as a son it was my duty to climb a little bit higher than Dad climbed,” Connell said. “By the time I got past 35 I realized I wasn’t doing it. And at 81 I’m not sure I even came up to his bootstraps.”

Glenn Goldsmith was honored for his philanthropy and generosity toward

his employees. 

The founder of Goldsmith Seeds (now Syngenta Flowers), a multinational flower breeder, he began the annual Rotary Flower Sale, which raises up to $50,000 for the Gilroy Rotary Club’s charities, said his son, Joel Goldsmith. Goldsmith operated a plant in Guatemala that employed thousands of workers. After learning that many employees at the facility were going without health care, Goldsmith built a clinic on site. He also provided eyewear.

The younger Goldsmith recalled accom-

panying his father to the country, where he learned how deep Glenn’s compassion ran. They witnessed blind children begging on the streets, and Glenn Goldsmith explained that their mothers had blinded them to make them more sympathetic.

“When he said that, he did not say it with judgment or contempt,” Joel Goldsmith said. “He said it with empathy and sympathy for somebody who thought maiming their child was the best way to get ahead in life. It illustrates how he sees the world.”

Glenn Goldsmith had a shock when he was alerted to a mistaken article by Jack Foley in the Dispatch that said he was deceased. Emcee Mark Turner couldn’t resist quoting Mark Twain’s famous line that reports of his own death had been “greatly exaggerated.”

Goldsmith added: “I had to show up. I had to tell them I’m alive.”

Bob Kraemer, a decorated Vietnam veteran, scout master and the first Mr. Garlic, was remembered as a selfless and unwavering problem solver.

During an environmental scandal involving Gilroy officials and the city’s major agricultural companies, Kraemer set aside finger-pointing in favor of finding a solution, said Jay Baksa, former city administrator. Kraemer, who sat on the committee overseeing the agricultural industry, brought Gilroy’s four major agricultural companies together and led a coordinated response to help resolve the crisis.

“What we learned about Bob at that time was, if there was a problem—and especially if it was a hard problem—get Bob Kraemer involved,” Baksa said.

Former Gilroy mayor Al Pinheiro, who met Kraemer when they both worked at Gilroy Foods, praised Kraemer’s devotion to serving others.

“There was no ‘in it for Bob’ kind of thing,” said Pinheiro. “It was all about the reasons why he got involved, whether it was the school district for the kids

or whether it was some other project. It wasn’t about Bob, it was about making a difference.”

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