Sandor, Urata honored by Juneau Chamber

Lifetime Achievement, Citizen of the Year recipients receive awards at annual dinner

Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2006

A man who has lived a model American life was honored with the Juneau Chamber of Commerce's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award Saturday evening.

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John Sandor, a retired regional forester, received the award during the Chamber's annual dinner, which was held at Centennial Hall in downtown Juneau.

"He's lived a model American life, which takes a fair amount of courage and discipline," said Murray Walsh, the chamber member who presented the award. Walsh is executive director of the Southeast Conference and Sandor's neighbor.

"I'm really speechless. Thank you very much, this really touches me," Sandor said while accepting the award. He wore a gray and black speckled wig as his costume in the spirit of the evening's theme, "Gold Rush days."

"Throughout his time, (Sandor) has been involved with civic affairs with the Chamber and has been a gentle and approachable figure," Walsh said adding that to win the award, "You have to have been around for a while and done a lot."

Sandor, 79, moved to Alaska more than fifty years ago where he got a job with the U.S. Forest Service, and eventually became a top administrator.

"He resided over what would probably be thought of as the height of the timber industry," Walsh said.

Upon retirement from the Forest Service, Sandor worked as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation from 1990 to 1994.

Also honored Saturday was family practice physician Dr. Bob Urata. Urata was recognized as Juneau's "Citizen of the Year," an award given to the resident considered to have contributed most to the community in the previous year.

"He is a good friend to all of us. He is a constant professional in a difficult field," said Bob Martin, the chamber member who presented Urata with the honor. "He's a doctor, a caring and compassionate physician, an illegal alien from Wrangell," Martin said to laughter from the crowd. "...A caring and helpful father, and an award-winning coach and now he's Juneau Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year."

After accepting the award, Urata said, "I find that volunteerism is the spice of life. And I think the thing that keeps America running is all the non-profits and all the parents and volunteers."

Urata also serves as president of the Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors. He is married and has three children. Winners of the Lifetime Achievement and Citizen of the Year awards are selected by past presidents of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at

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