Gil and Kay Albiani with Sparky

Gil and Kay Albiani with Sparky at their Sheldon home

Gil Albiani had a good September. He first had a local recreation center dedicated to him, and a few weeks later, he learned that he is an Elk Grove Citizen of the Year (COTY).

“It’s overkill,” he told the Citizen.

Gil and his wife Kay were surprised at their Sheldon home of 51 years on Sept. 30 when the COTY awards committee visited to tell them about their new honor. He was cutting homegrown tomatoes for drying at his backyard patio when he heard the news.

The visitors continued a 66-year-old tradition that recognizes individuals or couples who positively impacted the Elk Grove community. Every year, the committee invites Elk Grove residents to nominate honorees, and they then determine the new Citizen of the Year after counting nominations. Past honorees such as Jim and Annaclare Entrician, and Warren and Patty Weaver joined the visiting party who greeted the Albianis.

“When you know the other Citizens of the Year, you think, ‘How did I ever get this?’” Gil said about becoming an Elk Grove Citizen of the Year. “They’re remarkably talented and dedicated people like Warren and Patty (Weaver). You’d think, ‘Wow, that’s pretty much an honor.”

Gil is the board president of the Cosumnes Community Services District, which governs the Cosumnes Fire Department as well as Elk Grove’s park and recreation services. He also served on the boards of the California State Fair, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, Methodist Hospital, and the Mercy Foundation.  

Kay has a decades-long history of leading local education agencies – she served as a trustee on the boards of the Elk Grove Unified School District, the Los Rios Community College District, and the State Community Colleges Board of Governors. She also co-founded the Elk Grove Cooperative Preschool in 1954. An Elk Grove middle school is dedicated to her.

“I’m like Gil, I’m overwhelmed,” Kay said. “You do what you do because you love it, and it’s right. That’s what we’ve been doing throughout our lives.”

The couple has been an annual sight at the Sacramento County Fair since their children and grandchildren have long been involved in the junior livestock competition and agriculture education. Their son Mike teaches agriculture science at Elk Grove High School, and their son Dennis worked for the state as the deputy legislative secretary for resources, energy, food, and agriculture.  

“I would say that it’s long overdue,” COTY committee member Angi Perry said about the Albianis being honored. “We’re very lucky to have two extraordinary examples of giving in our community.

As part of the Elk Grove Citizen of the Year tradition, an awards banquet will be held for the Albianis on Nov. 1. After hearing about this dinner, Gil told the awards committee that he and Kay will not be able to make it. Perry asked them to have a representative there.

Last year’s Elk Grove Citizens of the Year, Jack and Tracey Edwards will also be honored at the dinner.