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Cloverdale’s Spirit of Sonoma County winner

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 | Posted by

Joan Tillman (Cloverdale Chamber photo)

Joan Tillman has been confirmed by the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce Board as this year’s recipient of The Spirit of Sonoma County “Business Leader” Award.

“We nominated Joan for her perseverance, ingenuity and community wrangling, which not only brought to our small town a premiere cycling event, but the rebirth of a park given to us by the town founder,” said Chamber President Dave Holt.

When her son was growing up, Tillman was involved with activities and organizations that primarily focused on him, such as Little League, PTA and coaching basketball. Later, she became a member of the Cloverdale Rotary Club, and it was here she began to explore ideas for projects she and the Club could do to benefit the entire community.

Tillman noticed that a small, historic park across the street from Cloverdale High School had fallen into a sad state of overgrown weeds and disrepair. Named in honor of Cloverdale’s founder, James A. Kleiser, the park is on land Kleiser donated in the mid 1860s for the town’s first school, a log cabin with a stone fireplace.  It has been the site of two schools since then and has remained school property for more than 150 years.

She brought the idea of renovating the park to Rotary, and they got the ball rolling.

To help fund the project, Tillman suggested putting on a cycling event in picturesque Northern Sonoma County. Having participated in similar rides, she felt there were ways to improve upon what was being done by other groups. She started by picking the historic Asti Cellar No. 8 Winery as their venue, and before long, the Asti Tour de Vine became a reality.

This October marked the fifth annual event, and it was a sell-out, with more than 500 riders coming from all over the United States to participate and add to the local economy.

In 2011, Tillman and Rotary decided it was finally time to tackle the Kleiser Park Project. Realizing their renovation budget was larger than the bike ride proceeds, Tillman came up with yet another idea; selling personalized bricks to the community. Not only did the bricks raise the needed capital, they provided a design focal point for the park, which was completed earlier this year.

She will receive her award Dec. 7 at the Spirit of Sonoma County Awards Luncheon, hosted by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. Honorees from 20 chambers and trade organizations from throughout the county will also be recognized.

Tillman has lived in Cloverdale for 20 years. She and her husband, Bob, are the owners of A & M Services (cable-tv.org) , selling and installing Dish Network TV systems, Direct TV, AT&T internet and phone, and most recently, Comcast Xfinity.


  • Joan Tillman

    Wow. You’re so awesome, Mary Jo. Thanks so much for writing this article and being so supportive. I feel blessed and honored to be a part of this amazing community and so humbled by such an honor to receive the Cloverdale Spirit of Sonoma County Award.. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Scott

    I mainly know Joan from the Asti Tour de Vine event. I had no idea how much she has shaped the current character of this town. Kleiser Park is just beautiful and the fund raising ideas for it were just fantastic. Our family has a brick there and we’re never going to tolerate letting the place get so rundown and neglected again.

  • Joan Tillman

    Thank you Scott Winter for those kind words and thank you for helping us create the Asti Tour de Vine website. This is were it all started so hats off to you and hats off to all the community volunteers and supporters of the Asti Tour de Vine and the Kleiser Park renovation.

    I share this award with the community of Cloverdale, especially the Rotary Club of Cloverdale. The members of our Rotary Club made a committment to these projects and each member gave an enormous amount of volunteer time to make sure these projects were successful. I am fortunate to be a part of such an amazing organization thats has been an active part of our community since 1926. They truly Rock! Thank you Rotary!

  • Mary Hiatt

    Joan…Congratulations on a well deserved award! I worked with you a few years on the Asti Tour de Vine and you were very helpful to me as a photographer. I found you very energetic and you work tirelessly before, during and after the event. And even though you supposedly were “divorced” from the event in 2012…there you were at 7 am when I came by helping out as usual! I will see you around town I’m sure. And your work on Kleiser Park is highly commendable!

  • David Ziegenhagen

    Joan deserves this award, with golden oakleaf clusters! What a citizen to make every Cloverdalian proud!

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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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