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A True Community Celebration

Tags: Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage Room

MEP - George Nakayama.jpg

The Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage room is dedicated to preserving and documenting the contributions of African-American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino and Native American individuals from Southern Colorado. The room is named for Reverend Proby, one of the first civil rights leaders to have profound influence in the campaign for equality in southern Colorado. 
Each year a different ethnic minority leader is honored.  A selection committee reviews applications to select an honoree. This year’s honoree was George Nakayama. His son, Dean Nakayama reflected on this year’s event. 

I am privileged to provide some reflections from the induction ceremony of my father, George Nakayama, into the Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage Room on August 25, 2016.

The evening was a wonderful tribute to him and an honor for his friends, colleagues and family members to attend.  It had special meaning for the family because a true sense of community is embodied in this event and the Emerging Leaders Development (ELD) Program.

There may have been more than 250 people at the event but it felt like family; the room was full of people making new connections and celebrating so many old ones. The Cultural Heritage Room is named for Rev. Milton E. Proby who was an acquaintance of my fathers, so reconnecting with his son James Proby was especially meaningful.  

Mrs. Mary McMearn and my mother, Marie, and sister, Tammy, were co-workers at the Bank of Fountain Valley years ago and the tribute to Rev. McMearn, longtime Colorado Springs pastor and civil rights leader, was a highlight.  

El Pomar Trustee Andrea Aragon graduated from Rocky Ford High School the same high school as my father.  She reconnected with a teacher of hers from Rocky Ford High School Sandie Dell.  The memorable cultural salute and entertainment was performed by Sandie Dell’s niece Reiko Urano, and her friends Nobuko Ninomaya and Kazuko Dishong.

Education was a passion for my fathers and we were honored by the attendance of numerous teachers and administrators from Widefield School District No. 3.  My father would have been so honored to know that he was nominated for the Milton E. Proby award by Naomi Westcott, retired Widefield teacher and long-time family friend.  Naomi collaborated with Gilbert Munoz, retired District 3 principal and administrator and close personal friend of my father, to provide the background information for his nomination.  

Over the years while growing up, I recall my father commenting about El Pomar Foundation and its contributions in Colorado.  The MEP award experience has given our family a much deeper appreciation for the tremendous work of the Board of Trustees and Foundation and its programs throughout southern Colorado.  My father would have been overwhelmed, but extremely proud that his interest in making his community better for others was recognized with this award.

Thank you for a most memorable evening.


Dean Nakayama