Recognizing the 25th anniversary of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce honored former Olympians Anita DeFrantz, Peter Vidmar and Rafer Johnson at the 2009 City of Angels Awards ceremony February 25th.
The event saluted the honorees for their contributions to the greater Los Angeles area and success in their chosen fields. Westchester resident John Ruhlen was named recipient of the Howard Drollinger Achievement Award.
DeFrantz was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1986 and became the fifth woman ever to hold a seat in the then 93-member IOC. She is both the first African American and the first American woman to serve on the committee. DeFrantz earned the bronze medal in rowing at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Vidmar was captain of the United States men’s gymnastics team, which captured its first Olympic gold medal with a stunning upset victory over the People’s Republic of China team. Vidmar now spends time giving speeches to Fortune 500 companies.
Johnson, president of Rafer Johnson Enterprises, is a former world and Olympic record holder in the decathlon. He won the silver medal in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia and the gold medal in Rome during the 1960 Olympics. Johnson served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and was selected to light the Olympic Torch in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Games.
As the recipient of the Howard B. Drollinger Award, Ruhlen was given $5,000 to present to the charity or charities of his choice. Ruhlen chose to divide the money with $2,000 going to the Westchester Family YMCA, $1,500 to the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association, $1,000 to the Airport Marina Counseling Service, and $500 to the University Christian Church.
After moving to Westchester in 1967, Ruhlen established his business, John Ruhlen & Associates, Inc., a space planning and commercial interior design firm, in 1978. He has been involved in various community activities, including sitting on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors from 1987 to 1989 and 1998 to 2000, and serving as honorary mayor of Westchester from 1997 to 1998.
Ruhlen was appointed to the Westchester Mobility Action committee by former Mayor Tom Bradley. In addition, Ruhlen has been involved with the Gateway to LA Business Improvement District, the Los Angeles World Airports Beautification Committee, the Community Participation Advisory Committee, the Community Plan Advisory Committee, the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa del Rey, Business Improvement District for the Westchester Business District, and the Westchester BID Association.
He has recently worked with the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association, serving as chairman of the task force and president for five years.