Written by The Business Journal Staff
Smittcamp was informed of the honor this morning at Valley Children’s Hospital, where he is chairman of the board of trustees.
As is the Fresno Chamber’s way, retired Fresno Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver and Todd Suntrapak, president and CEO of Valley’s Children’s Healthcare, conspired to get Smittcamp to the hospital for the surprise award announcement.
“When Todd said I better wear a coat and tie, I was grasping for everything,” Smittcamp said at the announcement. “I had no idea. I’m certainly honored and humbled.”
Smittcamp, a native of Clovis, became head of Wawona Frozen Foods in 1985. The business traces its roots to his parents Earl and Muriel Smittcamp in 1945.
Earl Smittcamp received the Leon S. Peters Award in 1993.
Bill Smittcamp, as he is known in the community, is a 1975 graduate of Fresno State, where he met his wife Linda. He is an active philanthropist, and in addition to Valley Children’s Healthcare, he also serves on the boards of Central Valley Community Bank, the Garfield Water District, Sigma Chi Foundation and Every Neighborhood Partnership.
The couple has two sons and a daughter, as well as grandchildren.
Suntrapak said Smittcamp has been a key asset for the hospital and Central Valley at large.
“I’ve watched him as really not just a force of nature, but through sheer force of will, improve this organization and this community,” Suntrapak said.
“He has been a role model for me and everybody in this organization,” Suntrapak added.
Smittcamp said he had a special connection to the hospital, as one of his sons was a patient there once.
“I love this place,” he said. “It saved my son’s life. I owe a lot to this hospital.”
He added that he admires past recipients of the award, which is meant to honor a local individual that has exhibited leadership in business, integrity, philanthropy and community service.
“I look up to each and ever one of them as folks I follow and care a lot about,” he said.
Past winners include Stan Oken, Ray Steele Jr., Richard “Dick” Caglia, John E. Horstmann, Dr. Peter Mehas and Dr. Peter P. Peters.
The award will be presented on Feb. 9, 2017, at the chamber’s Valley Business Awards Luncheon at the Fresno Convention Center. For more information, visit fresnochamber.com.