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Sandneses receive Silver Spur

College of the Canyons Foundation award for community service presented at black tie event

Posted: March 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, left, presented Marian and Richard Sandnes with the Silver Spur Award for Community Service. COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, left, presented Marian and Richard Sandnes with the Silver Spur Award for Community Service.
COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, left, presented Marian and Richard Sandnes with the Silver Spur Award for Community Service.

For more than three decades, Santa Clarita Valley residents Richard and Marian Sandnes have embodied the definition of philanthropy. As a result, the College of the Canyons Foundation named them the recipients of the college’s Silver Spur Community Service Award for 2012.

To celebrate, nearly 300 friends, family and supporters gathered on March 3 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Air Force One Pavilion in Simi Valley to honor the longtime philanthropists.

This year’s event was co-chaired by Jeff Hacker and Randy Moberg, members of the COC Foundation board.

The black tie event began with mingling and cocktails at 6 p.m. and the evening included a dinner, live auction and a touching tribute video to the honorees.

The money raised during the evening will benefit the new $6.7 million Culinary Arts Institute program at COC.

Silver Spur Award

“This is the most important recognition that we at College of the Canyons can afford to anyone, and given the support that Richard and Marian have given to the college for so many years, it is only fitting that we honor and celebrate their contributions,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “They are truly unsung heroes and amazing role models, who do the right things for the right reasons, and help others in a quiet, consistent and significant way.”

Van Hook then presented the Silver Spur award — a pair of silver spurs mounted on a plaque — to the couple.

The Sandneses were practically speechless as they took to the podium.

“We are honored to work with Dr. Van Hook and COC,” Richard Sandnes said. “We want to give a special thanks to our family, they look really good all dressed up.”

The Sandneses then took a moment to acknowledge their children, 14 grandchildren and four great grand children and their appreciation of their more than 50-year marriage.

“Twenty-five years ago, we found the Santa Clarita Valley to be a very friendly place,” Richard Sandnes said. “We were able to meet people and get involved and we certainly appreciate it. The Boys & Girls Club brings Marian and I great pleasure to help; to be able to help our young population they certainly need the help more than we do.”


Throughout the evening, many friends and community members agreed with Van Hook in expressing their admiration for the Sandneses.

“They have given to the community and they have done it without seeking any other recognition,” said Gary Condie, who, with his wife, Myrna, was the 2010 Silver Spur recipient. “We have known the Sandneses for more than 10 years, they never look for attention and do so much behind the scenes, which is something you don’t see that everyday.”

Others were equally enthusiastic in their comments regarding the contribution the honorees have made to the community.

“They give for all the right reasons,” Hacker said. “They are very quiet and humble; the greatest honor I can give is to make this evening memorable for them.”


For the past 25 years, the Sandneses have actively supported the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, Canyon Theatre Guild, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Foundation and the SCV Child & Family Center.

“They are top donors and they really care about our mission,” said Jim Ventress of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV. “They never seek attention just for themselves.”

Ingrid Boydston of the Canyon Theatre Guild recalled how Richard “Mr. Stax” Sandnes, of IHOP fame, cooked stacks of pancakes to kick off the opening of the theater on Main Street in downtown Newhall.

“Before the theater was even built, there was a cabaret all because of him…. needless to say, there would not be a
Canyon Theatre Guild without the Sandneses,” Boydston said.

Additionally, Richard Sandnes is a founding member of the Bank of Santa Clarita and an active member and past trustee of the Elks Lodge 1625 in Lancaster.

College of Canyons

Richard and Marian Sandnes are supporters of several projects and programs at the college, including the COC Foundation student scholarship program, the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program, the annual Silver Spur celebration and the COC Athletics department.

The couple’s relationship with College of the Canyons first began as football fans, when their son, all-conference safety
Michael Sandnes, roamed the defensive backfield for the Cougars’ 1975 Western State Conference championship football team.

Michael Sandnes lost his battle with cancer in 1979 at the age of 21.

In the years that followed, Richard and Marian searched for a meaningful way to honor their son, eventually deciding in 2005 to establish an endowed scholarship fund at College of the Canyons dedicated to Michael’s memory.

“Marian and I always wanted to do something for Mike and the college,” Richard Sandnes said at the endowment of the scholarship. “We thought about it for many years, and we’ve reached a point in our lives where we can honor Mike and help others in the process.”

Additionally, according to Van Hook, by participating in the COC Foundation’s recent Bernard Osher Foundation matching grant initiative, the Sandneses have also been able to significantly enhance the endowment’s value where it
now awards 11 annual $1,000 scholarships to COC student athletes studying kinesiology.

“Through their purposeful activities and character, they embody what it takes to live an honorable life,” Van Hook said.

“I think Richard and Marian’s involvement stems from the heart; they give back as members of the community because they are part of the community, it is who they are.”

Past Honorees

Past recipients of the Silver Spur award who were present to honor the Sandneses included Diana Cusumano, Myrna and Gary Condie, Harold and Jacquie Petersen, Wayne Crawford, Rita Garasi, Charlotte and Frank Kleeman, Gary Cusumano, Tom Dierckman and Tony Newhall on behalf of his parents, Scott and Ruth Newhall.

“This is a majestic evening for a majestic couple,” said Marlee Lauffer, senior vice president of Marketing and Communications for Newhall Land.

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