Doug St. Denis Named Winner Of Chamber’s Lewis R. Hardy Award - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Doug St. Denis Named Winner Of Chamber’s Lewis R. Hardy Award

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2019 3:44 pm | Updated: 4:11 pm, Thu Aug 1, 2019.

The Lewis R. Hardy, Jr. Service to the Community Award has been presented by the Coronado Chamber of Commerce since 1966. As a representative sample, the past five winners were: Ruth Ann Fisher 2013-2014, Cindy Anderson 2014-2015, Andre Zotoff 2015-2016, Bill Gise 2016-2017, Mary Ann Berta 2017-2018. Doug St. Denis was named the 2018-2019 Hardy Award winner during the Celebrate Coronado Community Awards Banquet held Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in the Nautilus Room of the Coronado Recreation Center.

The banquet had a strong turnout of 150 people, with St. Denis being one of the few attendees who didn’t know she was going to receive the Chamber’s top award. “I was flabbergasted,” St. Denis said during our interview, conducted two days after the event. “I’m still overwhelmed. It was a shock and a huge honor. Everybody was so deadpan at my table and they all knew about it.”

St. Denis was lured to the event on the premise that she was supporting friend and fellow Coronado Film Festival collaborator Kris Grant, who was being recognized as a 30-year member of the Chamber. St. Denis said, “Kris said, ‘I want you all to come and support me.’ If I had known I was going to win the award, I would have worn something different. I remember when Bill Gise received the award how surprised he was. They had to help him up from his chair. I was freaked out and winning the award was the farthest thing from my mind.”

St. Denis epitomizes Coronado in many respects, not the least of which is her family’s distinguished Navy lineage, which goes back six generations, to just after the American Civil War. St. Denis recalled, “My nephew is Admiral John Mustin and my great-nephew is a Lt. Commander and lives here in Coronado. In my generation, both my brothers were in the Navy, with my brother Hank Mustin attaining the rank of Vice Admiral. My father Lloyd Mustin was a Vice Admiral and my grandfather was Capt. Henry C. Mustin, who was Naval Aviator No. 11. He was the co-inventor of the aircraft catapult in 1915. He died at the age of 49 when he dove off the deck of a ship to save a man’s life near Cape Hatteras. When we move over to my mother’s side of the family, her grandfather Thomas Benton Howard was a four-star admiral. He was so distinguished. He was from Galena, Illinois and he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1873. His father died in the Civil War and the family was destitute. Ulysses S. Grant said to my great-great grandmother, ‘I’ll send your son Thomas to the Naval Academy and your son Douglas to West Point.’ Thomas graduated first in his class from the Academy.”

The Mustin clan has been honored by having two ships named after them. The first USS Mustin (DD-413) was named after Capt. Henry Mustin and was in service from 1939-48. The second USS Mustin (DDG-89) honors four Mustin family members who served in the Navy and is a guided missile destroyer launched in 2001 and commissioned July 2003. St. Denis and her two sisters-in-law were the Navy sponsors of the second ship.

Family tradition also played a strong role in St. Denis’ unusual maiden name, which is Douglas Howard Mustin. “I’m named for my mother’s uncle, and she adored that man. He died right before I was born. She said, “Uncle Doug, I’m going to name my next child after you, whether it’s a boy or a girl. And I consider it such an honor. Douglas Mustin was the Captain of the Navy Football Team and taught at the Academy. He was pretty wonderful, and he was a legend. I love my Navy heritage.”

St. Denis has earned her Hardy Award many times over, serving on a dazzling array of city commissions including at one point, three at once, as she explained. “Mayor Casey Tanaka called me and asked me to meet him of coffee. He said, ‘Don’t take this personally, but we need to make a rule that a resident can only serve on one commission at a time.’ I was on the Planning Commission with Dale (Doug’s late husband) and he was the Chairman when I joined. Somebody asked Jim Strickland, ‘What do you think about Doug joining Dale on the Planning Commission?’ Jim said, ‘I’ve served on a lot of committees with them and they don’t agree on anything.’ That was great fun. I was on Planning and then I started on Design Review. Then I was the rep on the Historic Resource Commission and that’s my passion. Along the same time the Cultural Arts Commission was formed with Heidi Wilson. We had so much fun on the Cultural Arts Commission, starting with the events. And we had undying support from Casey Tanaka and Blair King.”

Doug’s position on the Cultural Arts Commission eventually morphed into the founding of the Coronado Island Film Festival, where St. Denis now holds the posts of Founder and Chairman, with the every day operational role assumed by new CIFF Executive Director Merridee Book. St. Denis said, “Merridee is amazing and she is breathing new life and energy into the festival. I am chairman of the whole festival and I get to stay active. It was Gail Bardin’s idea that I would be like the Speaker of the House, where I was always a staff member before. We’re really busy and it’s going to be a wonderful year.”

Another St. Denis passion is the Rotary Club of Coronado, where her late husband Dale St. Denis was also a member. “I was a member of the Soroptimist International of Coronado for 25 years, but I had to resign to launch the Film Festival,” Doug said. “After Dale had his stroke and came home, the one thing he really enjoyed was going to Rotary. I love what Rotary does and they make the world a better place.”

Another family connection resulted in an interesting recent trip for St. Denis, this time to Washington, D.C. to film her remembrances of her distant cousin, the late Wallace Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. “My grandmother was a first cousin to Wallace’s mother, but she was only nine years older than the Duchess. They were life-long friends and back in those days, when you invited a family member to visit, they would stay for three months. My grandfather started in Pensacola, Florida and when Wallace came to visit, she took the town by storm. She was invited everywhere, and Wallace was always somebody who lit up a room. I met Wallace and she was wonderful. She has the undeserved reputation of being a hard, horrible social climber. I recently participated in an interview with CNN London about the 100 Years of the House of Windsor, that will be shown in the U.S. only. I have all these letters and memorabilia between Wallace and my grandmother. They went to Paris together and I have the letters from Wallace, where she remembers that trip. CNN London flew me to Washington for two nights, and I got to see my family while I was there. I told my kids, I may be in the CNN special when it comes out next year. But maybe I won’t.”

Despite all her varied interests, family comes first for St. Denis, including having one of her grandchildren Nadine living with her this summer. “I have 11 grandchildren and I adore them. The older ones are graduating from college and it’s so much fun to see them out in the world. To have the opportunity to have an adult relationship with Nadine, having a one-on-one relationship to a grandchild is wonderful. We have a big extended family. We’re meeting on Kiowa Island, South Carolina soon for a family reunion. When we get together in these big groups, we play the guitar, sing and cook great food.”

The Celebrate Coronado Community Awards honored several other community members for their distinguished service including: Police Officers of the Year-Officer Ryan Brennan and Det. Kovahn Vlach; Firefighter of the Year-Captain Josh Scarboro; Lifeguard of the Year-Vandon Burgess; Naval Base Coronado Firefighter of the Year-Firefighter/EMT Brandon Dominguez; and City Employee of the Year-Police Sgt. Mark Harris.

The Chamber’s Community Awards has become an annual culinary event, with several local restaurants and eateries participating in the festivities. They include Moo Time Creamery, The Brigantine, Crown Landing by Loews, the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa’s ALBACA Restaurant, Hotel Del Coronado’s Serea Restaurant, Gelato Paradiso, Amalo Brew, and Feast and Fareway.

Also on the program for the evening, was the installation of the Coronado Chamber of Commerce’s Officers for 2019-2020, who include: Chairman Dean Eckenroth Jr., Vice Chairman Mike Woiwode, and Treasurer Suzanne Forntz. Directors include Claudia Ludlow, Brian Barreto, Hayley Beard, Fred Eckert, Sarah Ghose, Christina Herrera, Alexis Reitmeyer, Dave Sweeney, Marco Topete, Bernice Zamaro, and Director Emeritus Anna Kirschner.

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