The Lodi Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors on Wednesday announced the five people who will be inducted into the Lodi Community Hall of Fame in March, including three who will be honored posthumously.
Stephen J. Borra began making wine at his ranch on Armstrong Road in 1967, and established Borra Vineyards and Winery — Lodi’s first bonded boutique winery — in 1975. He also helped establish Lodi Irrigation in 1983, and his systems reduced water usage in vineyards and improved wine quality.
“His philosophy is that wine quality starts in the vineyard, and he has dedicated his vineyard/winery/irrigation business to that end,” John Ledbetter, a friend and business associate of Borra, said in the nomination.
Born in Lodi in 1943, Borra graduated from Lodi High School in 1961 and studied electronics at San Joaquin Delta College from 1966 to 1967.
An active member of the Lodi Rotary Club, St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Borra also supports the San Joaquin Historical Society, St. Mary’s Dining Hall and Hutchins Street Square Foundation.
Bonita “Bonnie” Cassel served as a member of the Lodi Unified School District Board of Education from 2006 to 2018, representing schools such as Houston School, Lockeford Elementary, Victor Elementary and more. Currently a resident of Clements, Cassel has lived in the Lodi area since 1978.
From 1985 to 2002, Cassel taught at George Washington Elementary in Lodi and Morada Middle and Bear Creek High in Stockton. She wrote the book “Colombia: Gem of the Southern Mines,” which was published in 1995, and also serves as a park ranger.
Cassel was nominated by Ren Pham Peck, a coworker from her days at Bear Creek High.
“Bonnie is deserving of this recognition because she has worked diligently since 1985 to be a strong voice for students and has done her best to help make this community a better place,” Peck said. “The world needs more kindness, compassion and smart decision-making; Bonnie is an inspiring example of these priorities.”
Cassel took the nomination and upcoming induction as a compliment, she said, and appreciated the recognition for her decades of work.
“I have spent 40 years in this community in various phases of being an educator, and I enjoy every minute of it,” Cassel said. “It’s very nice to have this organization appreciate it in this manner.”
Sharon Stokes worked as an information technology operations specialist for the City of Lodi Finance Department from 1987 to 2002. Since 2002, she has been a leading executive at Stokes Farms.
Stokes is a charter member and former president of the Hospice of San Joaquin Butterfly Auxiliary, former president of Thornton Community Center Advisory Council, former secretary of the United Cerebral Palsy of San Joaquin Board and an active 4-H leader.
Nominated by her friend Dr. Jack Gilliland, Stokes was excited to learn that she will be inducted into the Lodi Community Hall of Fame, she said.
“I was always raised in an environment where you give back to the community, and help where it’s needed,” Stokes said. “It’s nice that others recognize that those are important as well and hopefully, by being honored in this way, it will encourage others to be more philanthropic as well.”
Frank Sasaki, who passed away Nov. 20, 2018, had served on the Lodi Memorial Hospital board since 1999. He also sat on the Salvation Army Board of Directors during the 1990s, was a founding board member of Lodi House and served on the Lodi Crime Stoppers and Lodi Police Association boards.
Sasaki was nominated by Wayne Craig, president and chief executive officer of Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation.
“He was the kind of guy that would always look for ways to serve and was greatly appreciated by many organizations in Lodi, but the kind of guy that would never expect, nor be comfortable with, recognition for his service,” Craig said. “Most importantly, Frank assured that his children knew the importance of helping others and he involved them in his philanthropic activities since an early age.”
As a member of the Lodi High School Jazz Band, Sasaki received the John Philip Souza Award for his outstanding performance in 1974, the same year he graduated. He also reached the rank of Eagle Scout as a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 293.
Bruce and Barbara Mettler were both active members of the Lodi community, according to friends Susan and Bob Bishofberger who nominated them posthumously.
Born Jan. 25, 1945, Bruce lived in Lodi until he passed on Jan. 7, 2018. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1963 until 1970, and married Barbara — his wife of 25 years — July 25, 1970 shortly after returning home.
Bruce sat on the board of directors for East-Side Winery (now Oak Ridge Winery), serving as board president from 1993 to 2002 and was a member of the Lodi Grape Festival Board of Directors since 1981 — serving as president in 1993. He also served on the board of directors for F&M Bank.
An active member of the Lodi High School FFA from 1958 until he graduated in 1962, Bruce was a member of the state champion tree judging team in 1960, served as president of the Lodi FFA chapter in 1962 and continued to be a active FFA supporter as an adult.
Bruce served as president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Board of Directors from 1989 to 1991, and helped create the SJFB Foundation for Agricultural Education — which awards $25,000 annually to students pursuing careers in agriculture.
“He’s an individual of impeccable integrity who always did what he said he was going to do. His word was gold,” Kent Steinwert, chairman and president of F&M Bank told the News-Sentinel shortly after Bruce passed. “He was a consummate gentleman, a very sensitive and caring person who constantly placed others above himself.”
Barbara was born July 14, 1944 in Los Angeles, and made her home with Bruce in Lodi before she passed away in Stockton on March 25, 2006. She taught home economics and served as a 4-H leader at Lodi High, and was a member of the American Association of University Women and Omega Nu Sorority.
When nominating Barbara, Susan Bishofberger praised her late friend’s gardening and cooking skills as well as her dedication to serving the community.
“In everything her husband Bruce was involved in, Barbara was always by his side supporting, volunteering and serving our community,” Bishofberger said. “They were truly a team and together accomplished so much!”