Phil Bauer, who has told friends he planned to be more active in the community upon retirement, has kept his word. The 2006 Citizen of the Year has committed his time to many Key Peninsula organizations and projects. And while Bauer appreciates the efforts of many who deserve the award, he is shy about receiving it.

Phil Bauer accepts his 2006 Citizen of the Year award by saying the award belongs to the entire community and other volunteers. Photo by Rodika Tollefson

“Phil was embarrassed to be nominated, although he is very deserving. He almost didn’t go (to the banquet),” tells veteran nominee Ruth Bramhall, the 1990 Citizen of the Year.

Bauer works with numerous community organizations for the benefit of Key Pen, but says he is trying to lighten the load. His idea of lightening the load includes continuing his nine years of service for the KP Civic Center by working with the building committee, continuing his involvement with the Two Waters Art Alliance, helping with the layout of the KP Fair at Volunteer Park, swinging a hammer for Habitat for Humanity houses, and putting on a pair of skates once a week to supervise the 6 p.m. session of Friday Night Skate Night. Currently, he is busy organizing the May 12 Livable Community Fair, and remains the “ultimate paperboy” who distributes the KP News issues to each local post office for mailing.

Vaughn resident Gary Gebo has known Bauer for more than 30 years. Both men were pilots for Western Airlines but only flew together once. “When he moved out here, he bought my old place… Before he retired, he would say when he retired he was going to be able to put more time into the community. He certainly has done it,” Gebo says. He knows the level of that involvement to some extent. “Every time he gets involved in something, I go to the work,” he says and ticks off a few job examples they have shared: set up and tear down events for the Civic Center, work at the fair, deliver the papers, and move the postmistress’ desk to the new post office.

Don Hornbeck and Bauer started their outdoor adventures together in 2003. They have been hiking and backpacking in the Olympics and Cascades, on Mt. Rainer trails, and on Washington beaches. Last summer they paddled a canoe 900 miles up the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories. They plan to hike in the Grand Canyon this fall. “Phil has done Army Ranger training and it shows when we are out in wild areas. He’s an excellent cook; don’t know how he does at home, but he’s a good cook on the trail,” Hornbeck says, adding there are a lot of stories not for publication and mentions something about a mountain goat getting into Bauer’s tent. On all their exploits they have never been in danger nor had an emergency. “He really understands being out in the wild. We’ve never been in any jackpots—dangerous situations,” Hornbeck says.

Bauer was treasurer for Two Waters Arts Alliance and president of the KP Civic Center Association at the same time. Loyd Miller, who was the KPCCA vice president at the time, says they have “worked together on a lot of stuff.” One of their first projects, back when Phil was new to the association, was to remodel the caretaker’s apartment. Miller has remained impressed with Bauer’s abilities and talents. “He is capable. For a pilot, he has a lot of other skills: carpentry, painting; (he) drives a tractor with a bucket, spray paints houses and at the Civic Center—not for pay—does it as a friend,” Miller says as he lists off other projects that include redoing the gym floor every year, installing new curb poles in the parking lot, putting up great big new speakers, building a safe storage cubicle for sound equipment, and remodeling the shop room into a conference room for the Children’s Home Society.

Bauer drives his tractor over to neighbor Sylvia Haase to grade her driveway. He built her a new shed when a tree took the old one out, and on her 65th birthday, he gifted her with an airline ticket to Europe. The thank-you party she held in his honor surprised him. She presented him with a gift of one square yard of Scotland. This earns him such titles as Lord of the Land and Laird of Scotland. “He was so embarrassed,” Haase remembers. “The party was out on my deck and we had a big sign that said ‘Phil’s Fans.’ ”

Frank Garratt, vice president of TWAA, says, “I know very few of Phil’s friends or acquaintances who have not been touched by his generosity or kindness. He’s all about others. People know about his work for the fair, Civic Center, Two Waters, but a good bit of his time is done on a one to one basis.” Garratt offers a warning: “Be careful what you say to him. He is liable to show up at your door with his tool belt and a hammer.”

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