Carlsbad CA— Longtime volunteers Taffy Cannon and Frank Whitton have been named Carlsbad Citizens of the Year. The annual award recognizes community members who have dedicated themselves to improving Carlsbad through outstanding service.
The Citizen of the Year program is more than 40 years old and honors community members who have given their time and energy toward the civic improvement, beautification and betterment of the City of Carlsbad. This year’s honorees, selected by a committee of Carlsbad residents, will be recognized during a ceremony on June 30, at 4:30 p.m., at Carlsbad City Hall, just before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
Taffy Cannon’s love of reading began when she was a small girl and borrowed books from a makeshift library in a Chicago church basement. Glass cases housed the dusty volumes, and if she kept a book beyond its due date, it cost a penny a week.
So it was natural that when Cannon and her husband, William Kamenjarin, moved to the City of Carlsbad in 1990 that she would join the Friends of the Library. In no time at all she was president of the group, helping to organize the annual Holiday Park book fairs, a large city event at that time.
Cannon has served on the Friends of the Library board for 25 years, including three terms as president. During that time she has helped raise an estimated $1.5 million for the library through book sales.
“It’s all about books and the library for me,” Cannon said. “I’ve been selling books for the library for 25 years — hundreds of thousands of books.”
At first, Cannon sold books for the library through the Holiday Park book fairs and an event called Book Sales on the Green. When the Carlsbad City Library on Dove Lane opened in 1999, Cannon established a new bookstore, which she manages to this day. The bookstore is a big attraction for Carlsbad book lovers.
“It’s a writer’s dream,” said Cannon, who is an established author. “The staff is volunteer, and the stock is donated.”
“You’d have to be an idiot not to make a success out of that,” Cannon added, making light of her contribution.
Cannon is from Chicago and attended Duke University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She and her husband lived in Dallas and Los Angeles before settling in Carlsbad. The couple has a grown daughter.
During her time in Dallas, Cannon began writing for a weekly newspaper.
“I read like crazy; it never occurred to me you could be a writer,” Cannon said. “I fell in love with sitting down at the typewriter and putting words on paper.”
Cannon has written 14 mystery novels and recently completed a book on caring for one’s disabled sibling, “The Baby Boomer’s Guide to SibCare,” based on her experience caring for her brother. That book is not yet published.
Cannon has also served as a founding member and chair of the Carlsbad Library and Arts Foundation and assisted in libraries at Kelly Elementary and Valley Middle School. She was also active in local PTA boards.
She was given the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Volunteer Award for 4,000 hours of service, in 2003.
Frank Whitton epitomizes the idea of public service. A retired Marine and Vietnam veteran, Whitton has served the City of Carlsbad since moving to the city in 1996. On a larger scale, Whitton has been devoted to community and country for his entire adult life.
Whitton’s most recent contribution to the city was creating the Carlsbad Fire Department Foundation, which has raised almost $100,000 in donations in less than a year. The foundation’s purpose is to support Carlsbad’s firefighters by enhancing fire and rescue services. Funds help pay for supplementary equipment, communication gear and other items.
“Our first major purchase was a quick connect for the hydraulic hoses that run the Jaws of Life,” Whitton said.
The Jaws of Life is a tool that firefighters use to cut crash victims out of vehicles or other tight spaces. The device operates using hydraulic pressure, and the foundation purchased five quick connectors that reduce the time it takes firefighters to attach the tool to fire equipment that powers them.
The foundation also awards scholarships to firefighters’ dependents to help them pursue their vocational or collegiate careers. The foundation’s largest fundraiser is a golf tournament, which will be held this year on Oct. 26 at The Crossings at Carlsbad.
Whitton started serving Carlsbad with four years on the Carlsbad Traffic Commission, from 1998 to 2002. He also served two years on the Juvenile Justice Panel until his appointment to the Planning Commission, where he served from 2002 to 2009.
As a member of the seven-member Planning Commission, Whitton helped assure that development proposals conformed to standards set by the voter-approved Growth Management Program.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Planning Commission,” Whitton said. “We did a good job of controlling the quality of construction and development in Carlsbad.”
Whitton enlisted in the Marines in 1956, and his military service introduced him to north San Diego County. He served 13 months in Vietnam and was an aide to Maj. Gen. Raymond L. Murray, commanding general of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. He also was instrumental in establishing a camp that ultimately housed and cared for 50,000 Vietnamese refugees at Camp Pendleton in 1975.
After retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1978, Whitton served as an associate dean of the San Diego Community College District, where he directed two schools at the Naval Training Center.
After leaving the college district, Whitton continued to assist veterans by helping to establish the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Network, a national group that helps disabled veterans succeed in business.
A graduate of Notre Dame University, Whitton and his wife of 58 years, Joanna, have four children and 6 grandchildren.