By Ruth Sowby
4:59 PM AKST, November 16, 2012
Astronaut Steven W. Lindsey was celebrated in style by the Boy Scouts of America's San Gabriel Valley Council. On Saturday (Nov. 10) the council held its annual dinner gala at the Langham Huntington Hotel. Just because council members and their young charges like to camp in the wilderness, that's no reason not to appreciate the sumptuous surroundings of the Langham at holiday time. They did.
During the reception the first order of business was posing with the astronaut for the paparazzi. Several of the 250 or so council members present including their guests and a smattering of Eagle Scouts took advantage of the “lights, camera, action!” Those on the modest side stayed away from the attention. A little more humble were Lindsey's mother Lois Lindsey of Arcadia, sister Janet Lindsey and daughter Jill Lindsey, 20, a student at Cal State Long Beach.
A local boy, Astronaut Steven earned his Eagle Scout rank while in Troop 161 in Temple City. “We didn't have a problem with having him quit [Boy Scouts],” said mom.
In fact the astronaut seldom quit anything in his life. After Boy Scouts and his 1978 graduation from Temple City High School, Col. Lindsey wound up logging more than 1,500 hours in space from four NASA space flights. An American Air Force officer, Lindsey served as Chief of the NASA Astronaut Office from 2006 through 2009. During his long career, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross among many other awards. Lindsey retired from NASA in 2011, after logging more than 62 days in space. The evening's gala honored Col. Lindsey with another commendation. This one was the “One Hundred Years of Eagle Scouts” Award.
Scout VIPs in attendance at the gala included David Jennex who was the astronaut's scoutmaster in 1976, the year Steven earned his Eagle Scout ranking. Also present was Tom Hartman, Chairman of the San Gabriel Valley Eagle Scout Assn. Accompanying them was Robert Beart, the 2008 recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Award. Beart, with Jennex, was part of the evening's Court of Honor. Also taking part in the presentation was Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Media VIP-Master of Ceremonies was Conan Nolan, general assignment reporter for NBC4's Channel 4 News. Nolan made sure the invocation by Deacon Mike Salcido and Troop 161's presentation of the colors ran smoothly. After dinner was the Court of Honor, which also included Col. Lindsey's mother Lois.
Eagle Scout and Citrus College student Ryan Senneff, 18, was present representing Troop 91, the Rose Parade Tournament troop of 50 Eagle Scouts. Senneff's mother, Melanie Senneff, was accompanied by her son.
A colorful booth attracted visitors. Photos on a large poster featured scouts on the Trask Scout Reservation in Sawpit Canyon. Sharon Villalobos is the program director, and her husband, Anthony Villalobos, is a ranger. Sharon explained that Trask is a year-round day camp for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Merit badges may be earned and activities enjoyed at the camp. Some of the boys' favorites are boating, swimming and shooting with BB guns — all under the watchful eyes of the camp staff, of course.
The evening ended with more accolades heaped on the astronaut. Family members looked proud. But when Col. Lindsey's daughter, Jill, was asked whether she planned to become an astronaut, too, she gave a surprising answer. “I'm a dance major,” she said, “Being an astronaut is not really my thing. I never liked science.”
RUTH SOWBY may be reach at email@example.com.