It’s time for the 2021 Fairfield Fist Bump Awards, affectionately known as “The Bumpies.” They are a tip of the hat or, more accurately, a gentle but deliberate meeting of the knuckles that celebrate certain segments of the Solano County seat.
I have been presenting these annually since their debut in 2013. Well, except for 2018 and 2020, which, for reasons beyond my control that I won’t go into, they were not presented (uh, I forgot).
Margarita López: With great sadness I present this Bumpie posthumously to Margarita, who died last week. She was such a vivacious person and absolutely beautiful. Margarita was one of those people whose beauty was not only measured by the outward favorable amalgam of her parents’ genes, but was also coupled with a radiant inner beauty that bubbled out from her infectious spirit.
I met Margarita 10 years ago when we were co-chairs of a local community event. It was just the beginning of several with which we were involved. Margarita was a Stage IV breast cancer survivor since 2012. It actually was her second battle with the dreaded disease after first being diagnosed in 2008. I was astounded by how many events I would attend and she was always there, usually dancing and surrounded by friends.
Margarita was an American Cancer Society Hero of Hope and made several appearances for them and other organizations and spread inspiration and love. She generously gave of her time and did interviews for newspapers, magazines and television.
But Margarita López was not defined by her diagnosis. She was about truly being present in her own life and those of her family and friends. She kept a vlog of her battle and her oft-used sign-off reflected her positivity: “Don’t forget . . . you have a lot to be grateful for.”
The League of Vaccinated Fairfield Superheroes: The news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume indoor and outdoor activities without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small, was cause for serious celebration.
It almost made me want to grab the nearest person and replicate the iconic Life magazine “V-J in Times Square” celebratory kiss photo of a sailor planting one on a complete stranger in 1945. That would have been my neighbor Vern, though, and he probably would not have appreciated it.
This Bumpie goes to the Fairfield residents who, like the true life-saving superheroes they are, did their duty to squash the evil super-villain that has been hell-bent on world domination for more than a year. Faster than a speeding DART bus, more powerful than a Fairfield fire truck, able to leap over the Waving Chief Solano Statue in a single bound . . . Look! Up in the sky! It’s one of those pesky seagulls from the Civic Center lake! It’s an annoying drone! No, it’s a vaccinated Fairfield superhero! Thank you!
Jeff Bristow and Staci Arriaga: Speaking of superheroes, local power couple Jeff Bristow and Staci Arriaga definitely qualify as such in the world of local and regional theater. Jeff is a stage manager extraordinaire and Staci is a celebrated choreographer. Their combined creative force has created so much good in this community and in others. Jeff and Staci recently celebrated their five-year anniversary and their wedding cake from 2016 reflected their respective favorite superheroes, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. I am so grateful they chose to use their superpowers for good.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Jesse Branch (ret.): The Daily Republic only allows me so many words so I will apologize in advance for not being able to encapsulate the entire breadth of service that Jesse Branch has offered to his country and this community. There is just too much to list.
Branch was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, the son of a sharecropper. He attended segregated schools until his graduation from high school in 1951, whereupon he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Korea and Vietnam and in 1977 was one of the first African-Americans to be promoted to the Marine Corps’ highest enlisted rank: battalion sergeant major at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona.
Branch retired in 1981 after 30 years of service and had been awarded 14 medals, including a Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
His service in the military ended, but his service to others in his community took off and continues to this day. Branch arrived in Fairfield in 1987 and was Solano Community College’s community services officer for 24 years. For his devotion to the students and sports programs, he was inducted into the Solano College Hall of Fame in 1998, awarded an honorary Solano College associate of arts degree in 2011 and was named Solano Athletic Boosters president emeritus.
Branch has been recognized for his service in numerous ways, including, but not limited to, being named the recipient of the 2002 California Parks and Recreation Society Community Champion Award, the 2002 Community Service Foundation Citizen of the Year Award and being named the 2018 Veteran of the Year by California Assemblyman Jim Frazier.
Branch currently is executive director of deacon of ministry at Bethel Community Church of Fairfield on East Tabor Avenue. All of us in Fairfield salute your life of service, Sgt. Maj. Branch, and this Bumpie is for you.
Jenn Victoria: There are numerous places to buy stuff on Facebook so it’s nice to have a place where you know the asking price and the one you negotiate will always end up being $0. Fairfielder Jenn Victoria created the private group Somethin’ 4 Nothin’ in 2012 that now has more than 6,000 members.
Somethin’ 4 Nothin’ is a closed Facebook group, which means that potential members must first be approved. Key to the success of Somethin’ 4 Nothin’ is the concept, mentioned in the group’s rules, of keeping the cycle of giving going. Members must first post an item to give before claiming one posted by someone else or making an ISO (In Search Of) post. In addition to creating a freebie hub, Jenn also created a community within a community.
Anonymous Fairfield do-gooders: There are many Fairfielders among us who pick up trash, who pay for the person in the Starbucks line behind them, who return lost wallets, who hold the door for others, who give their money and/or time to charitable causes, who smile and greet complete strangers and in numerous other ways are forces for the collective good.
Does Fairfield have challenges, issues and problems? Absolutely. Are there many negative aspects to the city? Of course. But we also have numerous people here who are beacons of positivity. You know who you are. This Bumpie is for you.
Reach Fairfield writer and accidental local historian Tony Wade at [email protected].
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