Key to the City

Key to the City

The "Key to the City" is a symbolic gesture of appreciate and welcoming to a recipient. Receiving a Key is one of the City's highest honors and the Keys will only be presented in a manner that is consistent with the City's vision, mission and goals.

Requests for a Key to the City nomination should be submitted to the City Manager and require concurrence of the Mayor and Vice Mayor for approval. Requests for a resident reaching the age of 100 years old will be handled administratively by staff.

The Mayor, or his/her designee, presents the "Key to the City" to the recipient at an appropriate function.

The "Key to the City" of Elk Grove Program is intended to honor:

  • An Elk Grove resident with significant accomplishments in military service
  • An Elk Grove resident reaching the age of 100 years
  • A person who performed an act of heroism while in the City limits
  • A dignitary or celebrity visiting the City

Requests for a Key to be presented in recognition of unique circumstances other than those listed above, and deemed appropriate by staff, will be considered by the City Council on a case-by-case basis at a City Council meeting. All requests for a "Key to the City" should be submitted through the City Manager's Office for consideration. For more information contact the City Manager's Office at (916) 627-3469.

Recipients of the Key to the City

The Key to the City program was established in 2013 as a symbolic gesture of appreciation to honor outstanding contributions of notable Elk Grove natives and residents.


Ann Pinto*

ann pinto

May 14, 2017

Vice Mayor Steve Detrick presented Ann Pinto with a Key to the City at her 100th birthday party on May 14, 2017, which also happened to be Mother's Day. She had a large birthday celebration at her daughter, Jean Sadler's home with over 75 family and friends to celebrate with this amazing lady. 

Ann was part of a family that included 11 brothers and sisters and was born and raised in Sacramento. She lived the majority of her life in Sacramento and moved to Elk Grove in 1995 to be closer to her daughter, Jean. 

Jean Sadler Wrote This About Her Mother: 

My mom has lived a very full life centered around her family. She married my dad, Edward Comer in 1937 and they raised 2 daughters. Her family grew to include 4 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren with her first great great grandchild due in July. She also has numerous nieces and nephews. A few years after her husband died, she married Julio Pinto and acquired a new family as well. They enjoyed almost 25 years together. 

My mom worked for the California Almond Growers and also DMV where she retired after 20 years. She has enjoyed traveling (cruising), gardening, playing pinochle with friends and spending time with her family whom she loved very much. She also looks forward to going to Elk Grove Regional Park every year to watch the Strauss Festival, which she loves. 

We had a family reunion at Elk Grove Park in 2007, which was attended by around 200 people. 

Our family is so blessed to have had our mom and grandmother in our lives for so many years and to watch all of her grandchildren grow up and have children of their own. 

It's been quite a ride for her, and the ride continues!

Antoinette Hewlett*

photo of Antoinette Hewlett, Centenarian

July 22, 2023

Antoinette Hewlett moved from Stockton to the newly built Del Webb Senior Community in Elk Grove in 2008 after her husband of 52 years passed away, to be closer to her daughter, Laurel Speier who moved here in 1990. She was very active in all the social activities Del Webb had to offer. At 90 years old, she was still playing cards and was able to hop on a treadmill in the gym for 30 minutes without breaking a sweat. A favorite customer of Trader Joes, they have been recognizing her birthday with flowers and chocolate for 10 years. 

(Bio as submitted by her daughter Laurel Speier) 

Assemblymember Jim Cooper

jim cooper

December 10, 2014

James Cooper served four terms on the City Council since the City incorporated in 2000, and was Elk Grove's first mayor. Cooper now represents the state's 9 th Assembly District, which spans Sacramento to Lodi, including Elk Grove. The Nov. 12, 2015 Council Meeting was Cooper's last as an Elk Grove City Councilmember.

"As a Councilmember, law enforcement official, volunteer, and coach, Jim Cooper has made a tremendous impact in the Elk Grove community," said Mayor Gary Davis. "Honoring Jim with a Key to the City demonstrates our grateful recognition to his contributions, and we hope this key serves as a reminder that the door is always open to Jim at City Hall."

Cooper has served the community for more than 30 years as a law enforcement officer, City Councilmember, and volunteer. His law enforcement career includes nine years working undercover to fight gang violence and drug trafficking. He has earned numerous awards, including the Bronze Star for Bravery for heroic actions during the 1991 "Good Guys" hostage crisis. He also served two years as the Sheriff's Department's spokesperson.

Bertha Weber Kraus*

Bertha Weber Kraus

December 26, 2017

Bertha Weber was born to Henry and Anna Elizabeth Weber on December 26th 1917, in rural Idaho. She was the fifth of their six children. Bertha had a carefree and happy life on the farm. Each fall, Bertha worked in her father's fields harvesting potatoes, sugar beets, and beans. She would then study catalogs for items her earnings could purchase. The Weber family lived through the depression years without knowing hunger. They were able to grow all they needed on their farm. Bertha graduated from Heyburn High School, Heyburn, Idaho in 1935.

Bertha's family were friends with the Kraus family, visiting back and forth in each other's home during her childhood. Bertha remembers Benny Kraus who was three years older than her pushing her and her scooter off the roof of a shed when she was six years old. This earned Benny a good spanking. After dating for a short time she and Benny were married on September 25th, 1939. Bertha and Benny began their married life together in Burley, Idaho where they bought an eighty acre farm. They had a son Roger in 1942, followed by two daughters, Miriam in 1946, and Melanie in 1951. Around 1950 the government required farmers to use the "new pesticides" developed during the war years. Benny became allergic to these pesticides and suffered greatly. His doctors told Benny he must find a new place to live where the climate was damp to settle any pesticides in the air. The San Francisco Bay Area fit the bill perfectly.

In June of 1955, Bertha and Benny rented out their farm to a nephew and headed to Oakland, California. Having a friend living in there helped make this decision. Here they met several friends whose friendships lasted a lifetime. Benny studied and received a Real Estate license. When a Mr. White happened into the real estate office, he explained he owned a business in Castro Valley, a fast food restaurant called "Foster's Old Fashioned Freeze" plus two homes in Hayward, California. Mr. White's passion was to return to his roots as a farmer! In 1958 a trade was made along with $10,000 to be paid after Mr. White's first crop was harvested. The Kraus family moved into the larger home in Hayward and rented out the smaller. This new business proved profitable from the start. Benny purchased a second Foster's Freeze in San Mateo Cal in 1966. They bought a home in Foster City, their residence for the next nineteen years. Bertha worked alongside her husband Forster's Freeze until their retirement in 1977.

Benny suffered a heart attack in 1987. Once recovered the decision was made to sell their home and move to "The Villages", a retirement community in San Jose. It was near their daughter Melanie and her family. In "The Villages", several new friends were made. Bertha, a Christian, attended Bible Study classes which she eventually taught. Benny suffered a stroke and died in September 1993. After Benny's death Bertha spent several years traveling with another widow and dear friend Geneva. Together they flew over Volcanoes in Hawaii, went up the Mississippi on a riverboat, witnessed fall colors on the Eastern Seaboard, and took several bus trips to locations throughout California.

Life would take another turn for Bertha in 2010 when Melanie and her husband Bob who were now retired, moved to Elk Grove to be closer to two of their children. Bertha first living in "The Common's", then "Camden Springs", and now resides at Carlton Senior Living, just one mile from Melanie and Bob. Bertha has 5 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren who love to visit her often at the Carlton for the sweet treats she saves for them.

Bertha always loved fashion and dressed in the newest of styles. She was a lady that wore hats, gloves, and scarves, whenever she left the house. Bertha had a passion for decorating and loved filling her home with the many lovely antiques she'd acquired over the years. Bertha enjoyed entertaining friends and family. She always had some fresh baked goodies on hand to offer her guests.

Betty Marie Bessard*

Bertha Weber Kraus

October 2, 2023 

The beautiful and effervescent Betty Bessard was born on October 2, 1923, in New Orleans, Louisiana where she developed her renowned southern cooking skills. She married and moved to San Francisco, California in the 1940’s during the second World War. She eventually moved to Fresno, California where, as a divorcee, she single-handedly raised four children who became successful in the education and law enforcement fields. 

Betty worked a wide variety of jobs in Fresno to support her children. After completing grueling studies to prepare herself for better employment, Betty was able to secure a position at the Internal Revenue Service where she became a crucial and respected part of the agency. She enjoyed her challenging career for many years, until she chose to provide full care for her disabled son, who enjoyed her loving service for more than two decades until he transitioned to the healing embrace of the Lord. 

Betty has been a resident of Elk Grove, California for more than a decade. She developed a strong love for national and international travel. In her early and mid-nineties, Betty relished her time spent in Paris, Florence, and Rome. When she was ninety-five years young, and without any walking aid, Betty traversed the cobblestone streets and bridges of Venice where she enjoyed another passion equal to travel, eating fine foods in fine restaurants.   

Betty has loved dance since she was a child performing acrobatic maneuvers for various audiences around New Orleans. At the tender age of ninety-nine, she was the featured dancer at a grandson’s wedding. She has no plans to stop. 

In all, Betty was blessed with 4 children, 7 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren. Every one of her grandchildren provides Betty with a special joy and sense of pride, and she enthusiastically tracks each in their individual endeavors. 

Betty’s church home is Living Stones Christian Reformed Church, whose pastor and members have provided her years of love, and spiritual growth. Betty exemplifies love and generosity. Her arms and heart are always open. Betty is truly an American success story. 

Candido Montalbano*

October 3, 2022

Candido turned 100 years old on October 3, 2022. He moved to Elk Grove from San Francisco in 2020. He served in the US Navy in WW2. He is very proud of his service with many medals. Candido recently lost his wife of 75 years in August of 2022.

Chalmers Gage*

Chalmers Gage

July 15, 2018

Chalmers Gage was born on July 15, 1918 and was one of the four children of Norman and Mattie Gage. He grew up on his family's dairy at Elk Grove-Florin and Bond roads, when those roads and many others in town were not yet paved. During his youth, Gage milked cows; fed hogs and chickens; and played various sports, including baseball, basketball and football. Gage attended Elk Grove Grammar School and Elk Grove High School. He graduated from the latter school in 1937. Two years later, Gage met Annabel Brady at one of his baseball games at a park in Sacramento. They were married on June 28, 1942 and would eventually have three children. During World II, Gage was exempted from military service due to being employed by Teichert Construction at McClellan Field. For three years after the war, Gage worked as a heavy equipment operator for C.V. Bartholomew and Son. Long before the days of the Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department, Gage served as a volunteer firefighter for the Elk Grove Fire Department. He spent about 30 years in the role, and 10 additional years as a full-time, paid employee of the department. Sitting on a table at Gage's birthday celebration were his two fire captain's helmets, as well as various photographs and other memorabilia from his life. Another one of Gage's activities was exhibiting Ayrshire dairy cattle during the 1950s and 1960s. "We did 14 fairs a year, traveling mostly throughout California," Gage said. "We had to show against different herds and we made enough money to buy hay for the dairy." Gage sold the last of his dairy cows in 1973, the same year he began working part time cutting and bailing hay for Jim Boras' commercial hay business. He continued working for Boras until he was 90, and then spent two more years doing the same work for Oscar Romer. Gage currently enjoys meeting a group of his friends for coffee once a week and watching televised games of his favorite sports teams, such as the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

David Huleva

Biography not available.

Donald Ralph

Roy Herburger

August 26, 2017

Major General Donald Ralph retired in 2015 as the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, Air Force Special Operations Unit based at Hurlburt Field, Florida. He was the principle advisor to the Commander for all reserve component matters and oversaw reserve force readiness, integration, operations, and mobilization in times of crisis and war.

General Ralph entered the Air Force in 1980 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He served as a C-130 advanced flying training instructor pilot, followed by an Air Staff Training assignment at the Pentagon. He was selected initial cadre aircraft commander to fly the B-1B bomber at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. He attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and served as an instructor, flight examiner and operations officer of a tactical airlift squadron. He commanded the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the world famous "Hurricane Hunters." In his civilian occupation, he was an international captain on the B-767 for a major airline.

But, long before military awards and accolades like the Distinguished Service Medal, General Ralph attended Pleasant Grove Elementary, Joseph Kerr Middle School, and graduated from Elk Grove High School in 1974. Our resident historian Elizabeth Pinkerton, who nominated General Ralph for this honor refers to him as one of Elk Grove's "Supergrads." And many of the members of his family still call Elk Grove their home.

Elia Hecimovich*

Elia Hecimovich

July 22, 2023 

Elia Hecimovich and her family are fixtures at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Elk Grove. Her son Carlos and daughter-in-law Isabell are active members in various ministries here as well. To honor her 100th birthday, the family attended mass together and headed to a local restaurant to celebrate. At the celebration Mayor, Bobbie Singh-Allen, presented Elia with the Elk Grove Key to the City. Elia said she was excited and felt terrific!

Elizabeth Pinkerton

August 27, 2016

Mayor Gary Davis presented Elk Grove educator, author, and local historian, Elizabeth Pinkerton, with a Key to the City as part of the opening ceremonies of Elk Grove's Multicultural Festival, on August 27, 2016 at Elk Grove Regional Park.

Elizabeth Pinkerton is a native of Northern Wisconsin. She and her husband Tom moved to Elk Grove with their family in 1962. Elizabeth served as a teacher and administrator at elementary, middle and high schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD). She was director of State and Federal Programs for the district and held leadership positions with local, state and national organizations. In 2008, the Elk Grove Unified School District recognized Mrs. Pinkerton's lifetime of service by naming a middle school in her honor.

Working with her students over the years, Elizabeth became known as a local historian. For more than 30 years, she has written a weekly column for the Elk Grove Citizen entitled "History Happened Here." She has authored three books on Elk Grove history and co-authored with Mary Tsukamoto a Story on Internment in America. Elizabeth has donated an estimated $64,000 in proceeds from book sales for student scholarships through the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation.

Mrs. Pinkerton continues to work as an educational consultant and as an Elk Grove community volunteer. Students of the 2015 Summer at City Hall program, a collaboration between EGUSD and the City of Elk Grove, nominated Mrs. Pinkerton for a Key to the City. In their nomination submitted by Summer at City Hall faculty advisor, Carlos Garcia, it states, "Mrs. Pinkerton graciously donated her time to work with the Summer at City Hall students and helped to instill in them a sense of civic pride and enthusiasm for Elk Grove's proud heritage and bright future. There is simply no one more deserving of Key to the City of Elk Grove recognition than Mrs. Elizabeth Pinkerton."

Pinkerton is the fifth recipient of a Key to the City since the program's inception in 2013. The Key to the City is an honorary gesture of appreciation and welcome reserved for notable Elk Grove residents who have made outstanding contributions benefiting the community.

Elizabeth's contributions to the Elk Grove community have been recognized and appreciated by several organizations over the years. In 1982, she was Elk Grove's Citizen of the Year. In 2007, Cosumnes Community Services District dedicated a park in her honor (It's on West Stockton Blvd). In 2008, she was the Elk Grove Citizen's Woman of the Year and in that same year, Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School opened on Whitelock Parkway. She is a charter member and past president of the Elk Grove Historical Society. She is clearly very deserving of all of these honors and more.

elizabeth pinkerton 1
Left to Right: Councilmember Darren Suen, Elizabeth Pinkerton, Mayor Gary Davis, and Councilmember Steve Detrick.

elizabeth pinkerton
Mrs. Pinkerton with students from Summer at City Hall program and EGUSD instructors, Carlos Garcia and Benny Rich.

Emma Virginia Fife*

June 2, 2018

Virginia Fife received the Key to the City award for becoming a centenarian. While working as a homemaker, Fife joined the service-oriented Elk Grove Rebekah Lodge in 1955. In 1966, Fife was part of the hospitality committee for a visit to the Elk Grove Odd Fellows Temple by Rebekah officials Maurine Presse and Fern McCrum. Fife was active in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers organization and was involved in a project to improve the Sloughhouse Pioneer Cemetery. Fife was born on March 3, 1917, in Hyrum, Utah, where she spent the earliest part of her life. She was the seventh of the 11 children of Charles and Agnes Unsworth, who raised their family as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). As a member of the church, she enjoyed singing in her ward's choir. In 1939, four years after graduating from high school in Hyrum, Virginia came to California with her friend, Clara Long. It was during the same year, on Dec. 16, that William and Virginia Fife were married in Reno. The Fife family were among the founding families of the Latter-day Saints Elk Grove Ward, and some of its first meetings were held in the Fifes' Bond Road home. William died on March 30, 1989, and in 2003, after 58 years of living on the ranch, Fife moved from her longtime home. The Fife family's ranch was subsequently replaced with about 60 homes. She enjoys mingling with other seniors at the Senior Center of Elk Grove on Sharkey Avenue. In addition to having five children, Fife had 11 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Eola Bates*

Eola Bates

April 20, 2024

Family and friends gathered for a birthday celebration for Eola Bates on Saturday, April 20th.  This birthday was very special as Mrs. Bates turned 103 years old and was honored with an Elk Grove Key to the City, presented by Councilmember Darren Suen.  A fun fact about Mrs. Bates is that she likes to share that the last time she drove her car was November 11,2023 – she drove to the bank, but it was closed.  She now lives with her grandchildren in Elk Grove, still loves to paint and reads novels monthly.

Jamie Whitmore

Jamie Whitmore

May 17, 2018

Jamie started competitive swimming at the age of 5. to running in High School and earned a scholarship to State University, Northridge. After earning a degree Criminology, Jamie gave Triathlon a try and started cycling. In late 2001, she turned pro in both Mountain Xterra (off-road triathlons) and dominated the Xterra in the U.S. and overseas for nearly 7 years. Jamie held Championship wins (more than any other female or that time), 6 U.S. Championship Titles, and 1 World 2008 Jamie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, wrapped around her sciatic nerve that resulted in the loss of use of most of her left leg, a condition called "drop foot." After three years and the birth of twin boys, Jamie returned to competition as a paracyclist. Jamie has won 9 World Titles (on the road and on the track) and set 2 world records in the 500TT and the 3K pursuit. Because of these great results, Jamie won an ESPY for Best Female Athlete With A Disability in 2014. As a member of Team USA, Jamie won gold and silver medals in the 2016 Rio Paralympics and a bronze medal at the 2018 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships. Jamie splits her time between Elk Grove and Somerset. Off the road and the track, she is a devoted mother and shares her story as a motivational speaker.

Joey Hand

Joey Hand

February 27, 2019

Widely considered one of the best road racers in the world, Joey Hand, with co-drivers Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, won both the GTE Pro category at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2016 and the GTLM title at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2017. Both races are widely considered the pinnacles of 24 hour sports car endurance racing. Joey currently drives the No. 66 Ford GT in his fourth full-time season with the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, the highest level of North American sports car racing.

Joey grew up in the Elk Grove area, attending James McKee Elementary School, Kerr Middle School and Elk Grove High School. He started a karting school at the age of 17, owned a kart shop in Elk Grove and the concession of the kart track at Prairie City SVRA for 4 years. When he's not on the road, Joey is at home in Wilton with his wife Natalie and their two children.

Joey's 2019 racing schedule started at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and will continue through the entire IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule, which includes a stop in northern California on Sept. 13-15 in Monterey, with plans to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. For Joey Hand racing news follow him on FacebookTwitter or visit

Joseph Sieber*

Joseph Sieber

March 8, 2018

Joseph Sieber was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on March 8, 1917. He was inducted (his words) into the Air Corps in November, 1942. He attended basic training at Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was then assigned to welding school. Then to his first assignment at Walla Walla, Washington. From there he went to Rapid City, South Dakota, McCook, Nebraska, Casper, Wyoming, Mather Field, California, Hickman Field, Hawaii then on to Wake Island. He was discharged February, 1946. Joseph had met his wife Caroline while he was stationed at Mather Field Air Force Base in Sacramento. They were married after the war. She had two children. Joseph and Caroline had one child together. Between them they had 11 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 14 Great-great-grandchildren. Joseph currently lives in an independent living facility at Camden Springs on Sheldon Road, Elk Grove. He stills takes care of his own finances and bills.

Josephine Finley Prince*

Josephine Finley Prince

May 28, 2016

Vice Mayor Steve Ly presented Josephine "Granny" Finley Prince with a Key to the City at her 100th birthday party on May 28, 2016. This was her actual birthday and had a large birthday celebration with over 150 friends and family to help her celebrate this remarkable milestone.

Ms. Prince has lovingly raised twelve children in Leesville, Louisiana. In 1988 she left Louisiana and moved to California to live with family. In 2001, the family moved from San Francisco, California to Elk Grove, California.

Tonia Valmore wrote this about her Grandmother: 
My Granny has enjoyed many experiences and pastimes, including raising her family, which has grown to include at least 24 grandchildren and abundant blessings of great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren; and great-great-great-grandchildren... there are five generations and countless nieces, nephews, and cousins! Throughout her blessed life, Granny has been a friend and queenly inspiration to all who have come to know her or hear about her and have had the pleasure of her acquaintance. She loves unconditionally! Through her tremendous love for God, numerous family and friends, she has genuinely touched and positively influenced in special and lasting ways the lives of family, friends and people in the communities she has called "home." Granny's faith in God has helped guide and nurture her spiritual journey throughout her entire life. She has especially enjoyed living in California! Granny truly adores all of her grandchildren and anyone that calls her "Granny or Nanny"! When family tells Granny they love her, she always replies I love you more!"

Josephine continues to live a blessed life.


Karissa Trinchera

Karissa Trinchera

August 26, 2017

Karissa is a Special Olympics swimmer who is showing people in Elk Grove and elsewhere that disabilities are not debilitating for exceptional people. Karissa was selected from 2.5 million athletes worldwide to receive the award of International Athlete of the Year for her commitment to excellence and sportsmanship. Karissa is the only Northern California Special Olympics athlete to ever receive this honor.

Karissa is a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School where she was the first special education student to swim for the varsity team. She is also an entrepreneur, developing a line of competition swimwear specifically designed for individuals 5'2" and under with fuller figures such as the average female with Down Syndrome or other metabolic disorders.

Karissa started the foundation called Athletes for Officers in 2013 to help Special Olympic athletes give back to officers in their time of need. Karissa has raised funds to purchase ballistic vests for Police K-9 officers, purchased a new dog for the Stockton Police Department and has even organized a swim-a-thon to raise funds for Roseville Police Officers shot in 2013.

Karissa received the California Highway Patrol's Commissioner's Medal of Distinction in 2015 for her dedication to assisting law enforcement and is the current Miss Inspirational Ambassador 2017.

Karissa has been a volunteer for the Elk Grove Police Department since 2011, contributing more than 1,000 hours of service.

Kyle Larson

kyle larson 2

June 18, 2014

"It's an honor to be recognized by Mayor Davis, the Elk Grove City Council and residents of Elk Grove," said Kyle Larson. "When I started racing go-karts around Elk Grove I always hoped to end up in NASCAR, but knew it would take a lot of time and effort to get there. Although my racing frequently took me out of town, I'm proud to call Elk Grove home and proud to represent the city when I race. Being the first Elk Grove native to be recognized with a Key to the City is really special, and I look forward to giving the people here more to cheer about in the future." Born on July 13, 1992, Larson is a native of Elk Grove and a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School, and has been racing since he was seven. Despite his young age, Larson has built an extensive and impressive racing resume, with more than 200 race victories over the series in which he has raced.


Lance Briggs

lance briggs 2

November 6, 2015

Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis presented former Chicago Bears linebacker and Elk Grove High School alumni, Lance Briggs, with a Key to the City at two special events. The first event was held at his restaurant, Double Nickle for a meet and greet with Mr. Briggs and then a special ESPN nationally televised Kings game that recognize Briggs for his success, his contributions to the region's student athletics, and local philanthropy. 

Born on November 12, 1980, Lance Briggs is an Elk Grove native. As a hardworking student athlete, he was a three-year letterman in football and a two-year letterman in track at Elk Grove High School. The Sacramento Bee , named him Player-of-the-Year for his senior stats in both football and track (200 meters, 4×100 relay and shot put). He continued his football career at the University of Arizona, where he majored in sociology. Briggs was a two-time, first team All Pac-10 Conference choice and the 68th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. 

Briggs retired from the NFL in 2015 year after thirteen seasons with the Chicago Bears. In 2011, he became the ninth player in franchise history to be voted to seven Pro Bowls. Briggs tied records for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns of any linebacker in the NFL. 

Off the field, Briggs has long embraced the local community. He is well known for his philanthropic efforts to help at-risk youth through his foundation, Briggs4Kidz. For several years, Briggs has hosted a series of non-contact football camps throughout Illinois, Arizona and Northern California -- teaching kids ages 9-17 football fundamentals, the importance of hard work and teamwork. 

"On and off the field, Lance has shown a remarkable strength in character and an unparalleled commitment to service and professionalism," said Mayor Gary Davis. "The NFL called him east to pursue his success, but he returned home again and again to invest in Elk Grove through his youth sports camps and its business community. As this key demonstrates, the door is always open to Lance at City Hall."

Leo Fassler

Leo Fassler

May 24, 2017

Leo has lived in the rural community of Elk Grove for the last 53 plus years. He has been committed to bettering the City of Elk Grove and preserving its rural heritage.

Since the City's incorporation in 2000, Leo has been a constant and regular fixture at virtually every Planning Commission and City Council meeting, where he not only attended, but he regularly provided meaningful public comment on issues. His passion to preserve "Rural Elk Grove" kept him abreast of virtually all City issues, which he then disseminated down to the Great Sheldon Road Estates Homeowners Association (GSREHA) as well as the Sheldon Community Association for their members information and knowledge. Leo was instrumental in helping to establish the Folks for Oaks program, which is comprised of volunteers dedicated to reforesting rural Elk Grove, and increasing tree canopy.

Additionally, he also helped create and preserve the Rural Roads Policies and Standards that exist today to ensure Elk Grove maintains its unique rural roots.

Leo most recently donated farm equipment, which is exhibited on the new roundabout at Waterman Road and Sheldon Road, which helps promote a rural lifestyle.

Lydia Christina (Adam) Wacker*


December 28, 2018

Lydia attended Franklin Elementary School and lived on 20 acres with her family who owned dairy cows. Although she said she never had to milk them but her brother did. They lived on the same road as the Kloss and Kammerer Families. They raised a lot of their food and never wasted anything. Her mother saved the cream for butter, which they churned. She had two sisters one older and one younger and a brother 14 months younger. They had no telephone. She doesn't remember when she got her driver's license but said they didn't care much about whether they had one then. She learned to drive on the public roads since not much traffic. Her memories of Elk Grove are a few businesses on Main Street (Elk Grove Boulevard, now) which all closed at 5:00 pm. But her favorite place was Candy Craft store, which was in the location where Warren's Shoes later were. They had a counter, which served delicious milk shakes. She could remember going to the library some too. She attended classes for two years and had to quit school to earn money for the family. During her years at the campus they added the Science Building and the gym. She took Home Economics classes, which were held in the kitchen on the S/W corner upstairs of the main building. Most mornings and lunchtime they would dance primarily girls with girls. But first they had to wait for the piano player to show up for the music. Her first work was housecleaning and meal preparation for a Family in Sacramento. She got around town by bus. She made $15.00 a month plus room and board. When she met her husband, he was a Service Station Attendant. Later worked on motors and learned to build houses and sell them. They lived in the Florin area and raised their children who also attended Elk Grove High School. In their later years they were able to travel from Alaska to Mexico.

Madeline Cambra*

April 25, 2024

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, Madeline Cambra turned 102 years old. Friends and family gathered for a birthday celebration at the senior living community, WellQuest of Elk Grove. Ms. Cambra was honored with an Elk Grove Key to the City, presented by Councilmember Darren Suen. During World War II, Ms. Cambra worked at an ammunition plant in San Francisco that supplied ammunition to troops overseas – she was a Rosie the Riveter! She considers this her biggest and greatest accomplishment!

Mathilde Mukantabana

Mathilde Mukantabana

August 26, 2017

Ambassador Mukantabana (Moo-kan-ta-bana) is the Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Prior to her appointment, she was a tenured Professor of History at Cosumnes River College (CRC) from 1994-2013. She is also the co-founder and President of the Friends of Rwanda Association (FORA), an Elk Grove based non-profit American relief association helping orphans and widows of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. In addition, through the United Nations Development Program, Ambassador Mukantabana started the academic program of Social Work at the National University of Rwanda in 1999, and taught a variety of subjects as an Invited Lecturer in their summer program.

Ambassador Mukantabana has been a passionate community organizer for several decades and co-founded many associations and organizations whose main purpose was to promote the positive collaboration of Rwandan communities in the U.S. with other groups and organizations for the benefit of their respective countries. She is an active Board Member of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at Sonoma State University in California and belongs to various local and international organizations, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the Organization of African Leaders in Diaspora that she co-founded and for which she has acted as Board Chair. A featured presenter at several film festivals and in demand as an international speaker, she has organized numerous domestic and international workshops and conferences on genocide and on the Rwandan experience.

Her awards include the 2012 Peace and Justice Award from the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution; the Global Peace Award (on behalf of the Friends of Rwanda Association) from Global Majority, and the Crystal Apple Award for Best Instructor at Cosumnes River College, in 2012.

Maureen Gertrude Gabriel*

July 29, 2019

World War II veteran Maureen Gabriel, a 31-year resident of Elk Grove, turned 100 years old on July 29. While reviewing some of her life experiences with the Citizen last week, Gabriel recalled joining the U.S. Navy in 1944. "My sister Betty went into the Navy, and she was stationed out here in San Francisco," she said. "She was calling up all the time. She was lonely, so I told my mother, 'I'm going to go into the Navy to take care of her.' So, I went down and enlisted." Gabriel was stationed at the Hunter's Point naval shipyard in San Francisco, where she worked in the planning department. "The ships would come in all shot up and (would need) a lot of repair (work done) on them," Gabriel recalled. "There was advanced planning, and they had to have estimates, and we correlated all the estimates and everything, and made up reports for the officers when they came ashore." Gabriel said that because of her love for San Francisco, she continued to work at the shipyard following the war. "I got out on a Sunday (in 1945), and went back in the same job and stayed there for 29 years until (President Richard) Nixon closed the shipyard," she said. "They started to close shipyards, and I retired. I was one year short of age for full retirement years." With her love for the military and her country, Gabriel has participated in various veterans activities, including parades in Sacramento. She also marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in 1944, while she was in boot camp.

Gabriel's secret to longevity. "I always told everybody my longevity is because I never got married and didn't have any kids," Gabriel said when asked about her long life. "My sisters and brothers all got married, and I couldn't leave my mother alone. I took care of my mother after everybody left. We were a very close family, always having Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving together." Gabriel added that she came close to getting married on two occasions. She noted that a man she was "crazy about" died in an accident while operating heavy equipment in Connecticut. On another occasion, she met a man who was present during the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. "He wanted me to marry him, so I would get his pension, because he was a supervisor with a good pension," she said. "But he got cancer, and he died." Despite approaching 100 years old, Gabriel said she is in no hurry to find a companion. "Hey, I made it this far without a man; I can go even a little further," she said.

Growing up in Connecticut. Gabriel was the third oldest of the six children of Walter and Gertrude Gabriel. She said her ancestors came from New Brunswick on her mother's side of the family, and from Germany, France, and Ireland on her father's side. Gabriel said her father died when she was very young. "My father was a policeman, but we lost him when I was 10 years old," she said. With the death of her father, Gabriel said her mother, with assistance from one of her aunts, worked to raise all six of her children. Caring for her children was challenging for Gertrude, since she was also the sole financial provider for her family. "My mother was a wonderful woman, very tough," Gabriel said. "She would walk to work, come home at noon to feed us, walk back to work and then come home at night. She walked all the time. I think that has a lot to do with our longevity in our family, because we walked everywhere. We didn't have money for buses or trolleys or anything." Gabriel, whose mother lived to be 92 years old, is the last survivor of her immediate family.

Life in Sacramento, Elk Grove. After living in Pacifica, Gabriel moved to the Rosemont area of Sacramento in 1956. Gabriel recalled becoming a resident of Elk Grove 31 years later. An acquaintance "was always talking about Elk Grove," she said. "I said, 'Where's Elk Grove?' "She said, 'From where you are, you can go straight down Elk Grove-Florin Road, and before you get to a park and a church down there, the model homes are down there.' "One Sunday after Mass, that's what we did. I walked (into a house) with my mother, and I said, 'This is our next house.' So, that's how I moved to Elk Grove."

Roy Herburger

Roy Herburger

August 26, 2017

Roy Herburger has played an integral role in Elk Grove's political landscape for fifty-six years. Born in Cambridge, Nebraska and raised in Stratton, Colorado, Roy inherited an interest in the newspaper business by working with his mom and dad - owners of the Stratton Press. A graduate from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in Journalism, Roy's reporting career was put on hold to serve as a navigator, First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force during the late Korean era. In March 1959, he purchased the Elk Grove Citizen and Galt Herald and settled in the south county area. A resident of Elk Grove for over 58 years, Roy has four children, Elizabeth, David, Leah and Vanessa. As Owner, President and Publisher of Herburger Publications, Inc., Roy has reported the comings and goings in the Elk Grove area for five decades - at times being as much a part of the news as being the news reporter. His commitment to many community issues including education, incorporation, and the environment have earned him the respect and recognition of local, regional, and statewide organizations including a park and school named in his honor. His awards are too many to list here, but they are numerous including the California State Fair Star from the Future Farmers of America, and Citizen of the Year for both the cities of Galt and Elk Grove. His commitment to local business is well known. He is a former President of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and the founder of the local Think, Shop, Live Elk Grove campaign. Roy remains closely connected with the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and he was nominated for this honor by its Executive Director, Angela Perry. Please join me in extending a most sincere congratulations to our friend, Roy Herburger.

Samuel Rinelli*

Samuel Rinelli

May 16, 2018

Sam Rinelli received the award for becoming a centenarian.

Elk Grove Key to the City Application

Submit your nomination by downloading printable form, or submit using online Nomination Form below:

Nomination Form

Nomination Category
Please explain why you have chosen to nominate this individual.To help the City Council make their determination, please include examples of accomplishments, giving back to the community, or other noteworthy activities.
Contact Information for Nominee
Your Information