John Baule wasn’t shy with the wardrobe changes during the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chamber Awards on Thursday.

Baule, the retired director of the Yakima Valley Museum, was honored with this year’s Ted Robertson Community Service award. He donned a turban and then a Carmen Miranda hat to celebrate as speakers talked about his sense of community and love for travel.

Baule said that when he first came to Yakima in 1992, he didn’t think he’d be here long, but people were so welcoming and nice he ended up staying. Baule was recognized for his extensive volunteer efforts for organizations such as the Downtown Association of Yakima, Yakima Valley Tourism and the Yakima Rotary Club.

The award, named after late Yakima Herald-Republic Publisher Ted Robertson, was established in 1989 to recognize a community member who shows inspiring leadership and commitment to improving the Yakima Valley.

“I feel a real responsibility even though I’ve been blessed with movie star looks and musical and artistic talent,” he said, joking. “I figured I wasn’t going to make my fortune on either one, but I could help in the ways I can, and I hope to continue doing that for a very long time.”

Herald-Republic Publisher Bob Crider said Baule has been a great steward of the museum and is a shining example of how to work with others.

“John Baule is the epitome of how to get along with people,” he said. “Not just with the people in this room tonight, but hundreds, thousands of people who have come in contact with John over the years.”

Recent recipients of the award include Jack and Connie Bloxom, Rick Pinnell, Steve and Anne Caffery and Lloyd Butler.

About 300 people gathered at the Yakima Convention Center to celebrate the outstanding achievements of businesses and community members at the ceremony. Other award recipients:

  • Freehand Cellars, a Wapato winery, received the Emerging Business of the Year award. Healthy Eats and Waterfire Restaurant and Bar were nominated.
  • Fatbeam, a regional Internet service provider, received Business of the Year award. McKinney Glass and Valley Mall were nominated.
  • Tree Top, the Selah-based fruit processing company, was named Member of the Year. Field Group Marketing and GESA Credit Union were nominated.
  • Matt Uhlman was named Volunteer of the Year. Linda DiLembo and Robbie Bustos were nominated.
  • Rod’s House, the Yakima-based nonprofit that works with homeless youths, was selected for Nonprofit of the Year. Entrust Community Services and Wellness House were nominated.

Reach Mai Hoang at or Twitter @maiphoang