Leon S. Peters Award

Leon S. Peters Award

The Leon S. Peters Award Background and Nomination Criteria

Leon S. Peters – The man and his legacy

Leon S. Peters was respected as a businessman, civic leader and philanthropist who lived and worked according to the highest ethical standards. He cherished his community and considered its well-being his personal responsibility. As the son of Armenian immigrants, he grew up on the family farm. After the loss of his parents, he became a salesman for Valley Foundry and went on to purchase the company. Valley Foundry and Machine Works manufactured a wine grape crusher and seamless stainless steel tanks that revolutionized wine production. The company became a world recognized supplier of agricultural equipment.

Peters gave back to his community in many ways, serving in leadership capacities and donating millions of dollars to a variety of causes through the Leon S. Peters Foundation, founded and funded by Leon and his wife Alice. He died in 1983, leaving a legacy of business success, public service, private philanthropy and an ethical leadership model that few can emulate.

In his memory, the Leon S. Peters award was created in 1984 and continues to be sponsored annually by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. This award was established to preserve the memory and legacy of Leon S. Peters and to honor a central valley leader who, over a period of time, has clearly demonstrated in his or her personal and business life the values, ethics and character exemplified by Mr. Peters.

Criteria for Nomination

You are encouraged to nominate a living person whom you believe conducts his or her personal and business/professional life in the manner consistent with the life of Leon S. Peters. You are encouraged to nominate a person who is:

A BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS. Leon S. Peters was an outstanding businessman and business leader. He was highly respected by his industry and community peers for his personal and business integrity and wisdom.

A SERVANT LEADER. Leon S. Peters was a servant leader who gave significant amounts of his time, talent, and treasure in a myriad of ways, to the betterment of the community.

A MORAL AND ETHICAL PERSON. Leon S. Peters was a moral and ethical person whose value system, ethics and moral compass did not vary, regardless of circumstances.

A CARING PERSON. Leon S. Peters was a caring person whose positive and beneficial activities showed a concern and a commitment to his community and his fellow man.

A MENTOR. Leon S. Peters was a mentor who provided advice and counsel with humility, wisdom, skill and grace.


  • Lewis B. Eaton | 1984
  • Robert Duncan | 1985
  • James B. Mayer | 1986
  • B. Franklin Knapp  1987
  • Frank Caglia | 1988
  • Joe Levy | 1989
  • Martin Nelsen | 1990
  • William Lyles | 1991
  • Helen Smades | 1992
  • Earl Smittcamp | 1993
  • Lou Gentile | 1994
  • James Hallowell | 1995
  • Richard Johanson | 1996
  • Robert Carter | 1997
  • Claude Laval III | 1998
  • Larry A. Shehadey| 1999
  • Anne Speake | 2000
  • Frederick Ruiz | 2001
  • Robert Oliver | 2002
  • Octavia Diener | 2003
  • Samuel Reeves | 2004
  • O. James Woodward III | 2005
  • Bud Richter | 2006
  • Sidney Cox | 2007
  • Bill Jones | 2008
  • Lou Herwaldt | 2009
  • Joe Williams | 2010
  • Dr. Pete Peters | 2011
  • Dr. Peter Mehas | 2012
  • John E. Horstmann | 2013
  • Richard “Dick” Caglia | 2014
  • Ray Steele Jr. | 2015
  • Stan Oken | 2016
  • William Smittcamp | 2017