Skip to main content

Elk Grove Citizen

Thanking the "Godfather"

Dec 05, 2019 12:00AM ● By By Paul Scholl

Presenting the award to Bill Van Duker, with his family present, is Kermit Schayltz of Stones Gambling Hall. Photo by Paul Scholl

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) –  Leadership and character are human traits well developed over time. Bill Van Duker, over his 80-plus years has proven to be quite the leader, and quite the character.  He has taken the leadership role in so many aspects in the community he simply is the definition of the word to all that know him.

Every year for the past four years Stones Gambling Hall has presented the “21” Award, presented to a member of the community who has shown exemplary commitment and dedication to the advancement of the City of Citrus Heights, has a history of leadership and has demonstrated a passion for making a difference.

Van Duker was honored on Wednesday, November 13, for his years-long commitment to the growth and development of the city. He was his usual joking self, both gracious and inviting to all those who came to thank him for all of his service and to be present as he was recognized with the “21” Award. During the award presentation, he was affectionately referred to as “The Godfather” of Citrus Heights. “Minus the horsehead,” he said.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Bill Van Duker.  His accomplishments for his business, family, and community speak to his character and values.  It was an honor for Stones Gambling Hall to present Bill with this year’s award,” said Kermit Schayltz, Partner at Stones Gambling Hall.

Bill was instrumental in the incorporation of the City of Citrus Heights and served as President of the Citrus Heights Incorporation project for six years. He was co-chair of the "Yes on Measure R" committee, the ballot measure for the incorporation along with Citrus Heights Mayor Jeannie Bruins.

Over the years he served on both the County of Sacramento Planning Commission and the City of Citrus Heights Planning Commission and served as Chairman for two years on each Commission. He served on several City of Citrus Heights committees including the General Plan Adoption Advisory Committee (Chair), and the City Council Compensation Commission.

In 2004 Bill was founding co-chair of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life in Citrus Heights and over the course of five years, collectively raised $699,000 for the fight against cancer. He was a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, appointed by Congressman Vic Fazio in recognition of his community leadership. He has owned a printing business in Citrus Heights for 40 years.

Bill is a member of Citrus Heights Rotary and has the longest tenure of any present member. He was honored by the Citrus Heights Chamber with a life-time achievement on the occasion of his 80th birthday in January 2016.

When you see Bill next around town give him a handshake and a “Thank You” for all he has done to make Citrus Heights a better place to live.