Bob Jacobsen has come a long way from his early 1970s high school days as the leader of a club known as "Chicks and Dudes Against Apathy."
Jacobsen's company, regional airline Wings of Alaska, now has more than 100 employees and generates $5 million in revenue.
"Not bad for a local 'dude,'" said his former high school English teacher, Ken Koelsch, who presented the Juneau Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award to Jacobsen on Friday night.
"Bob, you took the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference," Koelsch said, borrowing a line from Jacobsen's favorite Robert Frost poem.
Bopping along to a 1950s theme, more than 350 chamber members and guests packed Centennial Hall wearing era costumes and eating Sputnik-sized burgers.
Koelsch was the 2004 Citizen of the Year, an award given annually by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. The group also honored two other lifelong Juneau residents - former state legislator Bill Hudson and Walter Soboleff - with the Lifetime Service Awards.
Jacobsen took flying lessons while at the University of Oregon and returned to Juneau with degrees in public administration and political science. He later volunteered as the executive director of the Alaska Committee in the early 1980s to defeat a call to move the capital out of Juneau. He also is a longtime Juneau All-Stars baseball coach.
"I want to thank all of you for continuing to carry the torch of entrepreneurship, as difficult as that may be in our little liberal government town," Jacobsen said.
Deputy Mayor Randy Wanamaker presented the first lifetime achievement award to 95-year-old Soboleff.
"I had the opportunity to work with some of the first Alaskans," the Soboleff said. "I told them I still know very little and I wish you would teach me. ... They said, 'Wherever you are, take time out to eat.'"
Before Hudson served seven terms in the Alaska Legislature, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard as the youngest ship captain on the Great Lakes and worked to unify tribes in Liberia to form that nation's own coastal patrol.
Hudson thanked his wife, Lucy, and his mentor, the late Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond, who taught him how to sort things out, make things work and "not let politics be politics as usual," Hudson said.
The chamber also elected three new board directors: Chuck Collins, Neil MacKinnon and Lloyd Johnson. Leaving the board are Murray Walsh and two former chamber presidents, Bill Peters and Mike Story.