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Mother Lode Round Up Awards

2018 Grand Marshal – Al O’Brien

Al O’Brien was born in Corvallis, OR. to Patricia and T.L. O’Brien while they were attending Oregon State University. After attaining a degree in engineering the O’Brien family moved often with jobs for Bechtel Corp. Refinery and Chemical projects. Al’s sister Janet was also born in Corvallis, his brothers Kevin and Don were born in Pocatello, ID. and his youngest brother Mike was born in Paducah, KY. Al’s younger years were also spent in; Metropolis, IL; Houston, TX; Port Huron, MI; Calgary, Alberta; Topsfield, Mass.; Stanton, DL; Harding Township, NJ; and Nitro, WV. Al’s father accepted a position at Bechtel’s World Headquarters in San Francisco assuring all the siblings could attend the same High School; Crestmoor High School in San Bruno.

Al played baseball and basketball, was in theater and Student Government holding SBA and class office positions as well as Chief Justice of the Student Court and graduation speaker. He went to UC Santa Barbara to play baseball and study History as a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Just prior to his Senior year Al married Melissa Borders. Melissa and Al shared daughters Molly (1979) and Paige O’Brien (1981) who attended Twain Harte Elementary and Summerville High School. One month after the birth of Molly, Al was diagnosed with Cancer. He is a 40 year survivor.

Al founded a Chem Mark franchise in 1979 and later managed O’Brien’s Excelsior Supply providing various equipment and later opened a chain of six Take n Bake Pizza locations. Al coached High School football and baseball, was a substitute teacher, and he was a rock n roll bartender at several County hot spots.

In 1995 Al and his partner liquidated the pizza chain except for a store in Arnold, which moved into his final business start-up, Snowshoe Brewing Co., in partnership with Jeff and Jeannine Yarnell which is operating today. Al was active in Relay for Life, Junior Achievement, Tuolumne County Economic Development, Sierra Rep Theater, and daughters’ lives.

In 2001 Al was hired at Black Oak Casino Resort and held the position as Marketing and Entertainment Mgr. for 15 years leading the Casino Marketing Team, booking over 1,500 shows and winning many National Awards including the prestigious marketing award, and the Barona/VCAT Indian Gaming Casino of the Year.

In 2007 Al was blessed to meet, fall in love with and marry Kelli Noteman who is a county native and was instrumental in founding many of the special event programs in Columbia State Park.  Kelli is a respected teacher at Sonora Elementary, an accomplished watercolorist, back country horsewoman, banjo player and vocalist, quilt and costume seamstress, and performer at Columbia’s premier event, Columbia Diggins.

Al joined the Sheriff’s Posse in May of 2001, became Round-up General Chair in 2002, and was Captain in 2010.  Being a member of the Posse was a dream Al had as a spectator on the parade route with his kids all during the 80’s and 90’s.  He believes that the Posse represents all that is good in the Ag tradition of our rural county and honors the men and women who have been presenting the Round-up the last sixty years.  Al would also like to recognize his current and past parade horses Smokey Brandit, Dunny, and Skeeter.

Without the dedication of the many dedicated Posse members this event would not be what it is today. Al is humbled to be included in the long list of Grand Marshals of the Motherlode Round-up.

Top Hand Award – Kelly Robinson

John Kelly Robinson IV is the son of Roderick (Bud) & Marlene Robinson of Fresno and brother to Kimberly Robinson Bloom of Pacific Palisades.  Kelly was born and raised in Fresno and is named after his great-great-grandfather who patented the Diamond match.  Kelly has been married to Kristi Robinson for 26 years and they have four grown daughters.

Kelly began his automotive career in San Jose in 1984 as a salesman. He relocated back to Fresno in 1985 and continued his automotive career. In 1994 Kelly was transferred to Modesto to oversee the Mercedes-Benz/Volvo store and in 2009 he added a Subaru franchise to the organization.

Kelly and Kristi wanted to raise their girls in a great community and moved to Sonora in 1995.  Part of the attraction to the area was the Sierra Waldorf School. Kristi is a graduate of a Waldorf school and prior to having children they knew their children would be attending a Waldorf School due to its teaching philosophies and Kristi is now a teacher at the Sierra Waldorf School.

Kelly and Kristi enjoy spending time with their daughters; Christine 33 (San Diego), Nicole 24 (Sonora), Courtney 23 (Chico) and Breann 22 (San Jose) who all graduated from Summerville High School. The girls were involved in 4H, softball and volleyball and weekends often consisted of tournaments or other sporting events. Courtney went on to play volleyball at Butte Junior College and Breann received a 4-year full scholarship at San Jose State for volleyball.

Kelly’s personal interests include hunting, fishing, golf and spending time with family. Kelly began golfing at the age of 6 and continued playing for Bullard High School as well as Fresno City College and is a current member at Greenhorn Creek.

Kelly has been a consistent supporter of community activities and sponsorships in both Tuolumne and Calaveras County since moving to Sonora. Kelly is a staunch believer in supporting local businesses, activities, clubs, organizations and the local schools.

In 2012 Kelly was given the opportunity of a lifetime when Manuel & Mona Prieto purchased Hammond Ford and asked him to run the day-to-day operations. Kelly and Manuel worked for the same owner in the past with Manuel running a Honda store in Clovis and Kelly running the Mercedes-Benz/Volvo/Subaru store in Modesto.  In March of 2017 the Subaru franchise was acquired by Prieto Automotive and relocated to the Ford location, where there are now two great brands in one location.. Kelly’s office is on the showroom floor and his door is always open!

The Tuolumne county Sheriff’s Posse is pleased to select Kelly Robinson as the 2018 Top Hand Award winner for his continuing support of not only the Motherlode Round-up but many Tuolumne County non-profit efforts.

Mother of the Year – Moty Santos Oliveira

Mary Ann Santos Oliveira was born on June 23, 1939 to parents, Joseph Coelho Santos and Mary Avila Santos in San Rafael, California.

An only child raised on dairies in Marin County and Sonoma County. I grew up outside most of the time playing with the neighborhood children. I especially liked to strap on my holster with my cap gun in place and play cowboys and bandits.

On June 29, 1957 at St. Vincent’s Church in Petaluma, California, I married the love of my life, Gilbert Oliveira. A daughter, Sylvia was born on October 25, 1958 and then on August 5, 1962 a son, Steve was born. The family was complete. We lived on a dairy in Santa Rosa, California until we moved to Yountville.

In 1961 we moved to Yountville, California, from milk cows to beef cattle and vineyards. We lived for 17 years in the Napa Valley and enjoyed every minute of it. Our children grew up being around animals and vineyards which was a great play ground for them. I never worried about them being outside in the vineyards or up at the barn as Gil was always on the property and the other ranch hands knew them also. They had a horse, Ginger with a foal, Tenderfoot. When Steve was 12 years old he decided he wanted to raise his own cattle. He had quite a little 8 head herd and cared for them himself. Sylvia loved her lamb, Snowball. There were always cats and kittens around and our ranch dog, Duke.

What joy I had raising my children and being at home with them. Also, canning and freezing vegetables from our abundant garden. It was a great time of life. I made some great memories with Sylvia and Steve, they especially loved picking blackberries, but not the scratches on their arms and hands.  However,  the hot blackberry pie with ice cream seemed to soothe the scratches. We had many picnics up in the hills.  Perhaps the most memorable Mother’s Day was when  we went for a picnic on a hill which I unintentionally rolled down coming back to the house. Gil, Sylvia and Steve were concerned that I had gotten hurt and bounded down the hill after me. But no, the ground and poison oak I rolled down in prevented me from getting hurt.

In 1968 I became a working Mom, working in a dental office in St. Helena as receptionist and dental assistant. I had summers off to be with the children and when working, was only a block from their school in St. Helena.

In 1978 we moved to Benicia where I worked for another dentist as office manager and receptionist for 20 years.  Over the years, I met many wonderful patients and enjoyed seeing their children grow up and bring their children in for first visits.

I retired in 1998 and enjoyed traveling and camping with Gil along the Oregon Coast and my favorite place, the Monterey area. My hobby is beach combing and we collected many beautiful rocks in visits to the coast that are used in our garden and flower beds. I used to put all of my precious rock in the trailer and Gil was concerned about the extra weight but luckily, we were able to climb the hills without removing any of my rocks. I also love to bake and cook and enjoy entertaining friends in our home.

On June 29, 2017, Gil and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary in Monterey. It was a wonderful time and great memories were made with our children, Sylvia and Steve, our beautiful daughter in law, Gina and two beautiful granddaughters, Sara and Katy. It was a perfect celebration with all the people we love present to help us make some great memories.

I have lots of wonderful memories and like most people, have also had some challenging times, but thank God for my family and especially my wonderful husband, Gil.

I am so honored to be a part of the Mother Lode Round Up and represent the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse as Mother of the Year. I am so happy  to have my children, daughter in law and grandchildren here to share in the fun.

I have met so many nice people and look forward to seeing them again as well as making new acquaintances while sharing in a fun filled few days.