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March 18, 2009 > Citizen of the Year

Citizen of the Year

Submitted By Peggy Horyza

Barbara Gomes Bowman, a third generation Milpitasan, is the 2009 Milpitas Citizen of the Year. Barbara is the daughter of Louie and Florence Gomes. Her parents owned several orchards on Evans Road in Milpitas. There were five girls and one boy in her family. Barbara attended the same school her father attended, Milpitas Grammar School, which is the center point of the new Milpitas library.

Barbara graduated from James Lick High School in San Jose, at the time Milpitas had no high school. Barbara worked very hard with her family through the years, cutting apricots and harvesting walnuts in their orchards.

The Gomes family were active members of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on Main Street, and in 1957 Barbara was queen of the Portuguese Holy Ghost Fiesta. After high school, she was married at St. John's Catholic Church. Barbara has two daughters, Sherry, Cindy, and a son Michael.

Barbara volunteered three times a week for several years at the Milpitas High School, serving meals to the students in the small gym. All proceeds from this endeavor went toward the support of the Sports Department. They eventually had to close down because they were taking to much revenue from the cafeteria.

Barbara has been involved with the Milpitas Historical Society for many years. Her love for the community history has been the most significant. Barbara completed the president's term in 2007 after the former president stepped down. She was elected in 2008 and has just been re-elected for 2009.

Barbara has spent many hours reorganizing, reviving and revitalizing the Milpitas Historical Society. Her energy is never ending. Each month she procures interesting monthly meeting speakers. She helps to secure and arranging interesting Society field trips and works tirelessly at the yearly fundraising rummage/garage sales for the Historical Society.

Barbara has been an integral part of the Historical Society social gatherings, the summer picnic and the Christmas Party: she helps organize each social event.

Barbara has taken great pride in the Historical Society display at the Great Mall near the food court entrance and turned it into a mini museum with local artifacts. She does the monthly cleaning, changing pieces and adding seasonal decorations.

Barbara and her daughter Sherry have been putting out a well-written and colored newsletter every month to the members of the Milpitas Historical Society to keep members informed of meeting and upcoming activities.

Barbara was instrumental in getting Leapin' Lena, the old historical fire truck, placed at the garage entrance of the new Milpitas Library, working diligently with the Milpitas city engineers, Milpitas city council and the library staff. She worked on the signage placed in front of the truck, and was involved in ensuring there is an alarm system for security.

Barbara was asked to be on the Grand Opening Committee for the new Milpitas library, she collected names and contact information for seventy former Milpitas grammar school students to be invited to the grand opening ceremony. She coordinated the collection of photographs representing Milpitas as it was in the 1950's and arranged them in the library's four display cases. She gave two prospective speeches about the old Milpitas Grammar school and life in Milpitas during the opening ceremony. Milpitas Community librarian, Linda Arbaugh indicated, "Barbara, as a member of the grand opening committee, provided a critical link to the historic element of the celebration.

It is an honor to present the 2009 Milpitas Citizen of the Year Award to Barbara Gomes Bowman. Her life's history in Milpitas is a tribute to the home town she loves dearly. Her roots are imbedded deep in Milpitas History they revolve around her family children and Grandchildren and her love of the town she calls home, Milpitas.

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