Shoreline Antique Auto Connection Presents:
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"Common Gear Heroes of Antique Volkswagening"
 
(this page last updated 3/9, 4/19/2018, 3/20, 5/19/2019, 3/12/2020, 2/22, 9/26/2021)

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The information provided electronically, on paper, or otherwise is strictly for entertainment purposes only with no guarantees of any type, expressed or implied. Participation in any activity is strictly voluntary and done at one's own risk. The Shoreline Antique Auto Connection web site and it's author expressly disclaim all responsibility for any & all damages or claims, however caused. Observe all safety precautions when engaging in any activities with antique or modern automobiles. Obtain proper coverage from qualified insurance professionals for any type of activities, auto-related or otherwise, in which you may wish to engage.

IMPORTANT UPDATES AS OF 2/22/2021: We never received any 2020 nominees in time, HOWEVER, we are excited to announce that we are on track with two excellent new honorees for 2021, which we will announce later in the year. So, we are now currently soliciting nominations for a 2022 "Hero of Antique Volkswagening." We are hopeful to come up with a suitable nomination or two for a suitable 2022 honoree. We generally try to keep this to ONE HONOREE per year, unless there are extraordinary circumstances. And also, as a reminder, we wish to keep this for United States-based people--thanks again. Thanks for your interest!

IMPORTANT UPDATES AS OF 1/16/2016: Since 1999, the Common Gear Heroes of Antique Volkswagening program has been spotlighting and honoring many very-worthwhile-to-recognize people in the antique VW hobby. Due to many factors, some well beyond our control, we have relocated what we feel is a very-worthwhile-to-save web page to the auspices of  the Shoreline Antique Auto Connection web site. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your indulgence and understanding. We also wish to recognize and provide a working link to The Common Gear Discussion Group, which is a seasoned group of thoughtful individuals from within the old-VW hobby who, over the years, have provided important and valuable input to the Common Gear Heroes annual process--for which we are most appreciative--and we do hope that tradition can also continue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact The Webmaster. Thanks and Happy Volkswagening!

Quick Navigational Links for this page:
Year 2021 Program Overall Press Release  (last update 9/26/2021)
Year 2021 Program - Copy of the actual letters of nomination for this year's "Heroes" award honorees  (last update 9/26/2021)
Original "Heroes Of Antique Volkswagening" Program Concept Statement & Current Program Status  (last update 2/22/2021)
Photos of the 2021 "Heroes" Presentation at the GGC-VVWCA "Kelley Park" Meet, Within Hot VWs' Coverage (April 2022 issue, page 51) (last update 3/3/2022)
"Hall of Fame" - List of previous "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" honorees  (last update 9/26/2021)
A message to the forces of cynicism and negativity (last update 6/9/2013)
A very nice message from Vintage VW Club of America President Michael Epstein (last update 5/23/2017)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

"HEROES OF ANTIQUE VOLKSWAGENING AWARD"
FOR THE YEAR 2021
August 2021

The Common Gear Antique Volkswagen Society is happy to announce this year’s “Heroes of Antique Volkswagening” honoree. We are very pleased to recognize this year a person who really embodies the spirit of behind-the-scenes “getting things done,” in a very positive way, to make the old-VW hobby the best that it can be.

 The “Heroes” award program was originated in 1999 to help recognize those United States-based people within the antique Volkswagen hobby world who have especially given of themselves to help other hobbyists, often with little to no personal gain or attention (we realize that people around the world do great things in our hobby, but this program recognizes people specifically in our United States old-VW hobby). The inaugural recipient in ’99 was talented Michigan-based antique VW restorer Dave Crompton. There were two recipients for Y2K: Pennsylvania’s tireless antique VW hobby advocate Jim Siegfried, and New Hampshire’s intrepid antique VW road warrior Bill Collins. The three 2001 honorees were California’s “world class” enthusiast/author/entrepreneur Rich Kimball, Connecticut’s unsung long-time workhorse event organizer Chuck Pisconski, and Missouri's super-enthusiastic event participant/organizer/”do-er” Bill Bowman. Our two honorees for 2002 were Michigan’s “positive guiding light” Bob Case, and California’s amazing Golden Gate Chapter (VVWCA) head man Rick Spohn. In 2003 we gave a much-deserved spotlight to that long-unsung, low-key, behind-the-scenes “doer,” Nebraska’s Matt Joy. 2004 saw recognition of Wisconsin-based master-restorer of drivable classic VWs Connie Holcomb, and California’s long-time vintage VW hobby enthusiast/organizer/promoter Jan Peters. In 2005 the “Heroes” spotlight shone on MA resident and dedicated vintage VW hobby leader Peter Cook, and Iowa’s “ironman” vintage VW behind-the-scenes-doer-of-all-things Howard Query. In 2006, the “First Family of Air-Cooled VW Performance,” the groundbreaking and truly legendary Berg Family, from California, were most deservedly honored. In 2007, our honorees were Arizona’s “godfather” of VW toy, memorabilia, and goodwill Jerry Jess, and VW restoration parts pioneer Tony Moore of CA’s Wolfsburg West. For 2008, the extraordinary (and extraordinarily loved) couple from California, Erich and Wendy Kircher were recognized for their contributions to the hobby and to humanity. In 2009, the AZ-based internet impresario Everett Barnes of “TheSamba” fame was honored for his significant contributions to advancing the state of the (old VW hobby) art. In 2010, “The Godfather of the Antique VW Hobby,” Terry Shuler from PA was honored with well-deserved “Hero” recognition. In 2011, the CVA’s Jeremy Clayton was recognized for his tireless decade of contributions to the Northeastern old-VW hobby. In 2012, CA-based businessman/enthusiast Scott Dempster, and the “mega-enthusiast duo” Mark Merrill and Ray Schubert, also from CA, were recognized for all their generous and significant contributions to the hobby. In 2013, two tireless behind-the-scenes workers within the hobby who “make good things happen” in truly selfless ways were honored, Brian O’Kelly from CA and Tom Janiszewski from Illinois. The state of New York is home to our two 2014 honorees, Bob LaPorte the expert "hobby angel" to so many of his fellow enthusiasts, and Chris Vallone who has truly raised the bar in the field of antique VW restoration with his "Classic VW Bugs" company. Another New Yorker was our 2015 honoree, the super-enthusiast, historian, and friend to so many, Roland Metz. In 2016, the unbelievable “salvage” & “reinvigorating” work that Kansas’ Mike Epstein singlehandedly accomplished for the VVWCA was recognized in support of his “Hero” recognition, and Rhode Island’s super-talented top-shelf auto restorer Tim Scheller had a plethora of his fans contribute beyond-glowing reviews of his work and contributions to the old VW hobby. In 2017, California’s Eric Goodman was recognized for his amazing work within the VW Type 181 “Thing” segment of the old VW hobby, and Connecticut’s Chuck Pisconski received a “Special Recognition” Heroes award for his pioneering New England VW enthusiast gatherings organizing work, over an amazing number of years, upon his retirement. No nominations were received in 2018, however, in 2019 the wonderful behind-the-scenes work for the VVWCA Golden Gate Chapter of Carmencita Valerio was recognized with her “Heroes” award presentation. The “covid year” of 2020 seems also to have diverted folks’ attention from nominating fellow enthusiasts who contribute to our hobby, but we are happy to be back in action again for 2021…

This year’s “Heroes” honorees are Jeff Gilleland and Jim Kikuchi. Jeff has done all sorts of jobs behind the scenes to make the Golden Gate Chapter VVWCA and its events run smoothly, and is well-liked by one and all. His contributions to the VW Thing Registry are also recognized and appreciated!  Jim has been an inspirational presence and active participant on the VW hobby scene for many years, a pioneering member of the Gene Berg Cruise, and numerous other VW events, both volunteering and participating. His positive spirit inspires us all!

The official public announcement of “Heroes” honorees has traditionally been timed to coincide with Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club’s annual “Vintage Volkswagen Festival” (https://www.mvvc.net/festival). The MVVC Festival has traditionally been the venue for the announcement of the annual “Heroes” honorees, ever since noted MI-based restorer Dave Crompton received the inaugural honor in a ceremonial presentation at the 1999 event. This year’s presentation is scheduled to take place during the Golden Gate Chapter-VVWCA’s (https://www.ggcvvwca.org/) August 28 & 29th, 2021, 36th Annual “Kelley Park” Vintage VW Meet in San Jose, CA.

The Common Gear Antique Volkswagen Society wishes to thank all those who participated in this year’s “Heroes” award process, including this year’s esteemed nominators: Rick Spohn, Eric Goodman, Larry Edson, and Jan Peters. We also thank Lynn Anderson for her ongoing spirit and support for this program.

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Year 2021 Program - copies of the actual letters of nomination for this year's "Heroes" award honoree

FOR JEFF GILLELAND

Rick Spohn (President, VVWCA Golden Gate Chapter, raspohn@gmail.com) wrote:

‘…I would like to nominate Jeff Gilleland for the 2021 “Heroes of Antique Volkswagening Award.”  Jeff  has been a member of the Golden Gate Chapter for about 25 years.

 Jeff is very active in the Golden Gate Chapter (GGC) and has taken on many roles.  Jeff is currently our webmaster and Facebook administrator.  He has also volunteered to scan all our GGC newsletters and correspondence.  Jeff organizes and leads our Halloween pumpkin run every year.  Years ago Jeff suggested we have music at our annual Kelley Park show so Jeff arranged for a local radio station, KFJC, and six of their DJ’s, including Jeff, to entertain everyone at our annual Kelley Park show.  It’s been a big hit ever since.

 When the Covid-19 virus hit, we couldn’t have our monthly meetings in person at a local pizza restaurant.  Jeff recommended and took the lead on setting up our monthly meetings remotely using Zoom which we have been doing for about 6 months.

 In summary, if there is anything that needs to be done, Jeff always steps up to help in any way.  For all the reasons I’ve stated above, Jeff deserves the 2021 Heroes of Antique Volkswagening Award.…’

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 Eric Goodman (President, Vintage Volkswagen Club of America, president@vvwca.com) wrote:

“…Jeff has been a leader in our Bay Area Chapter. He is very involved and helps everyone.  Plus he is an upstanding guy and liked by everyone. You could not ask for a better person. I have personally worked with him with multiple clubs over the years.

Aside from the VVWCA, Jeff has also been the VP for the VW Thing Registry since 2016. He started the VW Thing show, Things West with myself. It’s now the largest VW Thing show in the country. The Registry would not exist today with Jeff’s help.

I am honored to call him a member and friend…”

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FOR JIM KIKUCHI

Larry Edson (larre345@sbcglobal.net) wrote:

“…I've got a nominee - Jim Kikuchi, known to many by his plate BNZAI KG. Jim has been a regular, if silent, presence at dozens of long distance VW events going back to the Gene Berg Cruise. He has inspired scores of VW owners to bring their VWs to be reliable enough for long distance travel to participate in the trips Jim has been part of. His '64 Ghia undoubtedly has logged well over 100,000 miles thanks in large part to the skills of his trusted mechanic, Steve Hollingsworth… Larry Edson…”

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Jan Peters (synkro@synkro.digitalspacemail8.net) wrote:

“…Jim Kikuchi has been with the Golden Gate Chapter for over 30 years and has been a supporting force not only for the Chapter but for our members and other Volkswagen enthusiasts in the Greater San Francisco Bay area. He's consistently been there and volunteered to help any and all and over the years has maintained dedication and level of participation in the Hobby I've never seen from others. It is for this reason that we wholeheartedly nominate Jim Kikuchi for the 2021 Heroes of Vintage Volkswagening award… mit freundlichen Grüßen (with friendly Greetings), Jan Peters…”

 

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Photos of the 2021 "Heroes" Presentation at the GGC-VVWCA "Kelley Park" Meet, Within Hot VWs' Coverage (April 2022 issue, page 51)

Wow, how cool was this to see the presentation of the 2021 "Heroes" award to Jim Kikuchi and Jeff Gilleland recorded with wonderful words and pictures in the pages of the one and only Hot VWs magazine! Sincere thanks to HVWs editor Shin Watanabe for the fantastic job!! If you are not a subscriber to Hot VWs, you should be! For more info: https://hotvws.com and/or https://www.facebook.com/HotVWs/ (make sure to visit and give 'em a "Like"!)

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Sincere thanks once again to our friends and long-time mentors in the old VW hobby, Rick Spohn and Jan Peters for all their help making this happen!

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Cover of the April 2022 issue in which the Kelley Park 2021 feature appears:

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Original "Heroes Of Antique Volkswagening" Program Concept Statement & Current Program Status

We like to think we have a unique program wherein we like to receive nominations of United States-based people from within the Antique Volkswagen hobby world who may have especially given of themselves to help other hobbyists, to possibly consider for one of our "Heroes" awards. We know they're out there--the person who goes out of their way to help with someone else's project, who selflessly devotes their time and energy at events, who performs some other valuable service within the Antique Volkswagen hobby, with little to no personal gain or attention.

Now's the time to think, and perhaps also write about that person, and then, during the nomination solicitation period (see below in CURRENT PROGRAM STATUS section), send the information to The Common Gear Team (e-mail: CommonGear@aol.com). It doesn't have to be a long write-up, but should, in addition to briefly describing their accomplishment(s), include a few specifics about where the person's from, club affiliation (if applicable), and (important) how to contact them should the need arise (and also to be able to ask their permission to publish their name when it's time to announce the honoree(s)/present them their award, if applicable). Later in the year we announce one or more "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" award honorees, and announce the awards "far & wide," via press releases to the major print & electronic VW hobby publications (including, of course, HERE).

CURRENT PROGRAM STATUS (important update 3/20/2020)

(2/22/2021 UPDATE - We will revise this section next chance we get...)

2020 NOMINATIONS ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED!... March 31, 2020 will be the last day for your getting in your 2020 Heroes nominations--and thank you so much to everyone who participated for the 2019 round!... Now's the time for you to put on your thinking cap and come up with a good letter of nomination for whoever you think might be a good nominee for the 2020 award. Please see the "Press Release" section from this past year's program, to see what kind of candiate we are looking for with this award--the phrase "selfless contribution to the hobby" is especially important to our way of thinking (there are plenty of media-savvy "stars" out there already--that's not who we're looking for). Please check the "Letters of Nomination" section of this page, to see how others have been "written up" to put them into consideration for this past year's award. Please submit your letter of nomination to CommonGear@aol.com NO EARLIER THAN JANUARY 1, 2020, AND NO LATER THAN MARCH 31, 2020. Thank you!

Please also try to include information about how to get in touch with your nominee, should we wish to get in touch with him or her--thank you.

Please keep in mind that we wish to keep nominees to those based within the United States. We reserve the right to accept, or not accept any nomination, for any reason, and the decision of the Common Gear Antique Volkswagen Society is final.

To Repeat: The deadline for our receipt of 2020 "Heroes" nominations = March 31, 2020

As always, our target event for the annual Official Announcement of the "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening Award" is the Annual Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club Vintage Festival. Please do check out everything else that our good friends at the Michigan Vintage VW Club are up to at their online home: http://www.mvvc.net/

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"Hall of Fame" - List of previous "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" honorees

1999 - Dave Crompton
2000 - Jim Siegfried & Bill Collins
2001 - Rich Kimball, Chuck Pisconski, & Bill Bowman
2002 - Bob Case & Rick Spohn
2003 - Matt Joy
2004 - Connie Holcomb & Jan Peters
2005 - Peter Cook & Howard Query
2006 - The Berg Family
2007 - Jerry Jess & Tony Moore
2008 - Erich & Wendy Kircher
2009 - Everett Barnes
2010 - Terry Shuler
2011 - Jeremy Clayton
2012 - Scott Dempster, Mark Merrill, & Ray Schubert
2013 - Brian O'Kelly & Tom Janiszewski
2014 - Bob LaPorte & Chris Vallone
2015 - Roland Metz
2016 - Michael Epstein and Tim Scheller
2017 - Eric Goodman and Chuck Pisconski (Special Recognition)
2018 - (no nominations were received)
2019 - Carmencita Valerio
2020 - (covid year - no nominations)


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A message to the forces of cynicism and negativity (this was originally posted 6/9/2013, but the message remains as true and as strong as ever...)

"Just letting you know. Time to say something..."

I know there are people who view this program as something with some sort of "other" political purpose beyond what is visible on the surface. I am here to tell you that it is nothing more than what you see--an attempt to give some recognition to the people who work in a positive direction to make our old VW hobby more enjoyable.

I am 53 years old now, and it's way past the point where I worry about stuff like "anonymous messages" and what-not. I do the best I can, and just try to keep pushing forward, every day.

I have some advice for you, whoever you are: Why not try to focus on the positive in the world? Negative energy will just eat you up in the long run--I guarantee it.

I have struggles in my life, just as I'm sure that you have struggles in your life. My struggles are very real to me, just as I'm sure yours are to you. But try not to let them cast a shadow on stuff that's supposed to be all about fun and fellowship, like the old VW hobby.

My two cents to you, brother, for whatever it's worth.

Peace.

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A very nice message from Vintage VW Club of America President Michael Epstein (this was originally posted 5/23/2017; those who know me know I'm not about blowing my own horn, but Mike was very gracious to write it and asked me to reprint it; thank you very much Mike)

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