As a 30-year member of the Greater Kiwanis of Lodi, Keith Land has always believed in the Kiwanis mission — a group of volunteers dedicated to helping the world, one child and community at a time. His membership in the club helped him learn how to volunteer his time to the community. Since then he has volunteered, starting with youths and ending with senior citizens.
For his contribution to community service, Land was chosen as an inductee to the Lodi Community Hall of Fame.
Dr. Peter Hetzner describes Land as a hard-working man who is loyal, honest and ethical. He says Land's record of community service speaks for itself, and that Land has never sought recognition.
"He has a 30-year history of participating, contributing and leading a wide spectrum of community activities," Hetzner said in the nomination papers. "He has serviced Lodi in a reserved and unassuming manner."
Other inductees this year include Gwin Paden, who was a teacher and reporter, and served in various community organizations, for her contributions in the community and service at large; Marilyn Field, who served as recreation supervisor for the city of Lodi for 31 years, for her contribution to athletics; the Phillips family, a six-generation farming family in Lodi, for their contribution to agriculture; and Janice Roth, who has been a longtime member of several community organizations, for her contributions to community service.
When Land was read the list of the other nominees for this year, he said he felt honored and humbled to be recognized along with this year's nominees. He feels it's important to give back to the community to make it healthy and prosperous.
"I've always had this saying: The purpose of life is a life of purpose," he said in a phone interview. "That's why I try to give back to the community."
When he first began, Land worked with the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, where he served as president. During his term, he helped negotiate the lease agreement with the city to purchase a part of Blakely Park for the club.
From 1996 to 2004, Land served the community through his position on the Lodi City Council. During that time, he served for one term as mayor. Some of the accomplishments during his term include the public safety building, fire station 4, the beach area improvements at Lodi Lake, Katzakian Park, the widening of Lower Sacramento Road and the improvements to Downtown Lodi.
David Duncan, a friend of Land's who met him through the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, says Land's biggest contribution to Lodi was the time he served on the council. He admires Land's ability to roll up his sleeves and get involved.
"That is really hard work to make yourself available to the public like that," he said. "He had a feel for the community that you get from growing up in the community. He understood what the community needs were."
During his term on the council, Land also served as a commissioner for the California Power Association, and then on San Joaquin County's Local Agency Formation Commission. The lowest point of his term came just a month after becoming mayor, when officer Rick Cromwell was killed in an auto accident. Lodi has such fine officers that it was difficult to lose one, he said.
In 2002, Land received the Citizen's Service Award from the Lodi Police Department for helping a woman in the Farmers & Merchants Bank's parking lot. She had been shot and wounded in the head and the arm by a shotgun blast. Land said he jumped in there, grabbed her and pulled her into the building.
"When you serve on the City Council, you feel the No. 1 priority is safety to the citizens. When I saw a citizen that needed help, I didn't think twice," he said.
It wasn't until several hours later, when the detective informed him that the gunman had been getting ready to reload, that his knees started to buckle, he said.
Land is a charter board member of the Lodi House and served on the board for 10 years. He also served as its president. Prior to the formation of the organization, Land was approached by two women in the community who told him there was a need to help the homeless women and children. During Land's employment at Farmers & Merchants, the bank purchased the house for the organization and it was leased to them. Over the next two or three years, Lodi House collected donations and then bought the house from the bank.
"It was a very creative purchase option," he said. "The bank was recognized nationally for the purchase of a home for a women and children's shelter."
For two years, Land served as chairman of the LOEL Foundation. The foundation's goal was to bring the Meals on Wheels program back to Lodi. Land says that during his term as chairman, they worked hard looking for grant money and donations to build the new kitchen. Now the kitchen is almost done, and Land plans to attend the ribbon-cutting in October.
Land was born and raised in Lodi and graduated from Lodi High School in 1969. He graduated with an Associate of Arts degree from San Joaquin Delta College in 1975, and then became a certified insurance agent. He was employed by Allstate Insurance and then by Farmers & Merchants Bank until his retirement earlier this year. Other organizations he has been involved with include the San Joaquin County Parks and Recreation Department, Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, Lodi Sister City Committee, and Lodi Elks.
He is married to Marcia, and they have five children and 10 grandchildren. The two are now living temporarily in Louisiana and are caring for a 9-year-old grandchild and Land's 81-year-old mother-in-law.
"I was blessed to have been raised in Lodi as a child and blessed to raise my children in Lodi. We will be back," he said.
The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Lodi Boys and Girls Club. Inductees will be honored at a dinner and program scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Boys and Girls Club headquarters, 275 Poplar St., near the corner of Stockton St. Tickets are $45 each and may be purchased by calling the club at 334-2697.