By Brian Park
The San Juan Capistrano City Council had the unenviable task of selecting the newest members for the city’s Wall of Recognition this week.
Six residents were nominated for the honor—all six got in.
Steve Behmerwohld, Sheldon Cohen, Lawrence “Pat” Forster, Arturo and Maria Galindo and Jacque Nuñez will all be recognized for their dedicated service and commitment to the city with plaques placed onto the Wall of Recognition.
“They’re such a great group of people. Every one of them has contributed a lot over many years in their own special way,” said Mayor Pro Tem Sam Allevato, who along with Mayor John Taylor was charged with making the final recommendations to the council.
“The mayor and I just felt that we had no way that we could disqualify any of them,” Allevato added. “They were all very worthy of being on the Wall of Recognition for their contributions.”
Here are the six new additions into the Wall of Recognition:
Behmerwohld, a 23-year resident, serves on the city’s Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission but is better known throughout town for his volunteering efforts, which includes reading and mentoring students at Kinoshita Elementary School. Behmerwohld also volunteers with the Open Space Foundation and Associated Senior Action Patrol. He is known for donning his Santa Claus costume during community Christmas functions.
In his 28 years living in San Juan Capistrano, Sheldon Cohen has served on various city commissions and committees for 22 to of them. He was first appointed to the Transportation Commission in 1990, serving multiple terms as chairman, and since 1996, Cohen has been a member of the Planning Commission. He also served on the board of directors of the Capo Valley Bobby Sox’s Girls Softball program for six years, including two terms as president.
Pat Forster is a member of one of San Juan Capistrano’s original families. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1968, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Army. He served as a tank platoon leader in Vietnam for one year and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in combat. Forster has since been active in organizing reunions and support efforts for war veterans and has been a member of the local American Legion post for more than 30 years.
Back home, Forster organized and ran the city’s adult softball and basketball leagues. In 1986, he began coaching at Mission School and later became athletic director.
Forster is a lifetime member of the San Juan Capistrano and Camp Pendleton historical societies. He was named Grand Marshall of the 2002 Swallows Day Parade and is a member of the famed El Viaje de Portola riding group, which was started by his father, Tom Forster.
Arturo and Maria Galindo
The Galindos have lived in San Juan Capistrano for more than 25 years. Through their restaurant, Las Golondrinas, they’ve actively supported community groups and events, as well as local schools and youth programs.
The Galindos served as Grand Marshalls of the 2011 Swallows Day Parade. Arturo Galindo is a former president of the San Juan Capistrano Rotary Club and was named “Man of the Year” by the Chamber of Commerce in 2004. Maria Galindo is a former officer of the Women’s Club of San Juan Capistrano. Both served on the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley’s board of directors and were instrumental in financing new facilities for the club.
Nuñez is a ninth generation member of the historic Rios family. After moving away from San Juan Capistrano, she moved back and has stayed in the community for more than 20 years.
During those two decades, Nuñez has helped bring Native American Indian education into local schools. In 2009, the state Education Department named Nuñez its Indian Educator of the Year.
Nuñez has acted as Mrs. Clause during the city’s Christmas celebration for 20 years. She’s also donated more than 1,000 scholarships for underprivileged children to attend summer camps in San Juan Capistrano, according to her nomination papers.
Nuñez currently serves as vice chair of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians tribal council—the first all-woman council in the tribe’s history.