History of the Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta
San Diego, California

Chartered March 14, 1976

The Kiwanis Club of Grantville-Allied Gardens established the Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta, San Diego in 1976 led by Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha Division 21 Lt. Governor Fred Melvin and Grantville President Cal Pancheri. Grantville member Bill Hoover chaired a committee of Kiwanians who canvassed and walked the streets of the relatively new community of Tierrasanta in search of men interested in starting a service club under the banner of Kiwanis International. An organizational meeting was held on March 14, 1976, establishing the official charter date of the club. At the organizational meeting, Tierrasanta resident John Bolger was elected president of the club. During the months of March and April 1976, Grantville-Allied Gardens club members along with new members from the Tierrasanta club recruited over 35 men who became charter members of the club. The Charter was presented to the club at an evening dinner celebration in early May 1976 and all members joining prior to that meeting were designated charter members of the club.


Organizational Breakfast Meeting at Rib Cage Restaurant

 Circa March/April 1976

Head Table L to R: Lt Gov Fred Melvin, Bill Hoover (GAG New Club Chair), Jim Vlassis (vice president) and Francisco Gamboa (secretary). President John Bolger is standing and speaking to Logan McKechnie with Gherry Bryant to their left and Cap Peake, Mike Pent and David Crosby to their right. Across that table are L to R Louis McLemore  (treasurer) and Kym Murphy. Tom Cherniss is seated at the table to the left behind Cap Peake and Mike Pent. Others in the photo are not identified.


        Charter President John Bolger Congratulated by Division 21 Lt. Governor Fred Melvin



Charter Officers and Directors  

Seated L to R: Francisco Gamboa (secretary), John Bolger (president), Jim Vlassis (vice president), Louis McLemore (treasurer); Board members L to R: David Crosby, Kym Murphy, Bob Caproni, Gherry Bryant and Rev. Jerry Groth

Because Tierrasanta is primarily residential, the weekly meeting time for the club was set on Wednesdays from 7:00 to 8:00 AM, for breakfast at the Rib Cage Restaurant, Sands Hotel, on Kearny Mesa Road. This allowed business and professional members who worked in and outside the community to actively participate in the meetings without undue interference with business, professional and family obligations.

By the fall of 1976 the Tierrasanta club was struggling. John Bolger began his second term as president in October 1976. Many of the members had ceased regular attendance and due to business obligations, Mr. Bolger resigned as president of the club. With dwindling attendance the club lost the meeting location at the Rib Cage and made arrangements to meet at the same time each week for coffee and donuts at the Pizza Hut in the Vons shopping center in Tierrasanta. During a fateful meeting in the late fall of 1976 with approximately six members in attendance, the members present discussed whether they should continue the club or disband. Vernon Bowman, a Christiana Community Builders Manager, businessman and charter member who had been instrumental in establishing the club volunteered to assume the club presidency and agreed with others present to make an effort to re-energize the club.
Vernon Bowman helped to arrange a new meeting location with a catered breakfast at the Tierrasanta Lutheran Center, a converted residence on Orozco Road in Tierrasanta. Mr. Bowman agreed to serve a second full-term as president for the 1977-78 Kiwanis administrative year under the leadership of Division 21 Lt. Governor Enrico DeMarco who often attended the club meetings. Club leaders and members became more actively involved in Kiwanis division and district activities. By the end of Mr. Bowman’s second term as president, the club membership had grown back to 17 members and in recognition of the progress of the club, Lt. Governor DeMarco awarded the club and Vernon Bowman the Lt. Governor’s Memorial Trophy (now Lt. Governor’s

 Installation September 1978

L to R: Roger Nutter (secretary), Steve Wojdowski (treasurer), Tom Cherniss (vice president), Mike Pent (president) and Vernon Bowman (immediate past president)

The club’s growth and service continued during the 1978-79 year with Mike Pent as president, a charter member. The club meeting site was moved to the Jolly Roger Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. The club membership was increased to over 40 members and the club was recognized for the highest net gain in membership in the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District for the 1978-79 Kiwanis year and at the International Convention in Toronto for achieving a greater than 100% membership gain. During the Christmas holidays in 1978, the club initiated a fundraising project to decorate the shopping center on Tierrasanta Boulevard, later expanded to include Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in Tierrasanta.  In January 1979, the club chartered the Serra High School Key Club.  Club member Dan Driscoll chaired the 1979 Tierrasanta Kiwanis 10-K Run as a fundraiser that was the first major community event in Tierrasanta. Over the next several years the Tierrasanta Kiwanis10-K Run became one of the most successful and difficult races in San Diego, raising significant charitable funds for the club. The club adopted a program initiated in the Southwest Kiwanis District and awarded Hope of America Awards in elementary schools for the first time in California. In 1981, the Hope of America Award program was extended as a Division 21 program and in 1984 was adopted by the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District Foundation as a Cal-Nev-Ha District program* . The Tierrasanta club and foundation now provides 24 awards each year in a total of 12 schools from elementary to high school. A club building committee led by Mike Pent organized the Kiwanis Club of Scripps Mira Mesa with over 30 charter members and Lt. Governor Cal Pancheri awarded the club the Lt. Governor’s Trophy for 1978-79, for the second successive year.
The club continued to prosper during the 1980’s by staging regular pancake breakfast and spaghetti dinner events as fundraisers. Under the leadership of charter member and twice president Tom Cherniss, the club expanded service projects to include sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 985 and later Cub Packs 985 and 279, annual participation in Special Olympics (now Sports for Exceptional Athletes) benefiting children athletes with developmental disabilities, support of youth sports activities in Tierrasanta and the Murphy Canyon Navy Housing complex and the development of recreational sports fields in Tierrasanta. In 1981, under the leadership of Dan Driscoll as president and club building chair, the club established the Kiwanis Club of North Clairemont.
In 1982, George Paluso as club president proposed awarding an annual Kiwanis scholarship to an outstanding graduating Serra High School senior bound for college. The club established the scholarship and a policy to accumulate a scholarship fund using only annual earnings to fund scholarships. The scholarship was accepted by the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District Foundation and managed by the District Foundation for over 15-years until 1997 when Tom Cherniss led an effort by the club to establish the Kiwanis Foundation of Tierrasanta with Mr. Cherniss serving as the first president. Since then the scholarship program, donations and earnings have allowed the expansion of the scholarship awards to include a four-year scholarship named in honor of Vernon Bowman who died of a heart attack in 1986 and two-annual scholarships named in honor of Tom Cherniss who died after a long illness in 2000 and George Paluso who died of a brain hemorrhage in 2009. The club foundation has acted as the charitable arm of the club and assisted the club with providing a specialized van for Key Club Advisor Chris Timmins, and Reality Changer scholarships to young students coping with challenging life circumstance in honor of club member Judge William Mudd who died in 2009 after a long illness. The foundation also assists the club with the administration of the Hope of America Award program and by providing monetary stipends to award recipients who are graduating seniors.


George Paluso in 1978

The club has continued to grow stronger over time. Meeting locations were changed in the 1980’s and 1990’s from the International House of Pancakes on Kearny Mesa road near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to a catered breakfast at the Tierrasanta Christian Church located at the eastern terminus of Tierrasanta Boulevard, Angelo’s Italian Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, from 1987 through 2014 at the Holiday Inn on Murphy Canyon Road off Aero Drive, at Giovanni's on Clairemont Mesa and Ruffin Roads from 2014 until 2018, then briefly at the La Miche Kobobgee Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and now at the Spice House Cafe on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. The most lasting annual Tierrasanta community events were established through the leadership and continued persistence of Dr. Hani Shatila who serviced as president of the club in 1987-88. The Kiwanis administrative year now begins with an Oktoberfest celebration held in early October since 1991, during the term of Jesse Jones as president, at the Tierrasanta Recreation Center featuring games, refreshments, a German dinner, hot dogs, music, and fireworks for the enjoyment of the whole family. The TierraFest-Patriot’s Day Parade followed by an evening barbecue is also now an established annual community celebration traditionally held on Armed Forces Day in May starting with a morning parade and evening event that has ranged from a spaghetti dinner to an old fashioned American hamburger and hotdog barbecue prepared and served by Kiwanis members and other community volunteers. Both these events involve the cooperation of many community volunteers and support of the Tierrasanta Junior Women’s Club many others.

 Dr. Hani Shatila

From the 1980’s through the current time the club grew in stature considered among the top clubs in the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District of Kiwanis International. Contributing greatly to this was the Kiwanis change in policy in 1987 to allow regular active membership by women. Diane Frank, Cathy Cafiero and Gini Austin, were early women initiates in the Tierrasanta club and Diane and Cathy served as presidents in 1993-94 and 1995-96, respectively. The club moved to extend the sponsorship of Kiwanis chartered school programs including Builders Clubs established at Jean Farb Middle School in September 1993 and DePortola Middle School in June 1994. In the 2000’s during the presidencies of John Hopper, Marty Cary, Dick Wilken and Cathy Chesire a K-Kids club was established at Hamilton Elementary School in January 2005, a Builders Club at Monroe Clark Middle School in June 2005, K-Kids at Tierrasanta Elementary in October 2007 and Kumeyaay Elementary in March 2010, a Builders Club at Taft Middle School in June 2010 and a K-Kids club at Miller Elementary School in October 2010.
Tom Cherniss also led an effort to save the annual December Kiwanis Basketball Tournament for high schools that had been established many years before by the Kiwanis Club of San Diego (downtown). Twice club president and past Lt. Governor John Haigis along with past Lt. Governor Jeff Ott spearheaded and improved the tournament that thanks to the leadership of these men continued until 2014.
Dedicated club members have contributed outstanding service to the club and foundation sometimes over periods of years as club secretary or treasurer including Roger Nutter, Steve Wojdowski, Tom Cherniss, Tom Murrell, Cathy Cafiero, Bob Weckman, Tom Lambert, John Martin, Pete Caswell, John Haigis, John Hopper, Jeff Ott and Dr. Paul Van Horne. Kiwanis Past Lt. Governor Jeff Ott has served as a Kiwanis District administrator of the Kiwanis International K-Kids sponsored youth program in elementary schools and headed up Kiwanis One Day, an International program of local Kiwanis service to communities everywhere.  Under the leadership of Irene Cannon who served as president during the 2014-15 administrative year, Division 21 Lt. Governor Cloti Simpelo awarded the club and President Irene the Marion Miller Trophy as the most improved club in Division 21 that year.  The club was again awarded the Lt. Governor's Trophy three additional times for the 2005-06, 2008-09 and 2016-17 years with Mike Pent, Deborah Foley and Mike George servings as presidents.

Club projects have benefited the community in many ways and also include the following:

Monetary Support of Youth Activities at the Schools:

Valley Forge Freedom Foundation Trip
• Support of NJROTC at Serra High School
• Baseball Booster Club
• Senior Booster Club
• Serra Basketball
• Support of Serra High Track & Field School students at the State Meet
• Serra High School Foundation
• Leadership Development
• Washington D.C. trips for middle school students
• Reading Is Fundamental(R.I.F) program
• Monetary donations to School Principal Discretionary Funds

Community Youth Support:

Tierrasanta Little League
• Tierra Canyon Girls softball
• Boy Scouts, Troop 2
• Girl Scouts
• AYSO Soccer
• S.D. Youth Soccer
• Tierrasanta Spring Egg Hunt.
• Children’s Hospital Newspaper Day

Community Projects:

Displaying American Flags on Tierrasanta and Clairemont Mesa Boulevards during special holidays with the support of the Key Club.
• Monetary Contributions to Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation
• Contributions to the Tierrasanta Library
• Financial support Tierrasanta Recreation Center to extend hours of operation
• Cleaning Tierrasanta Canyons with Friends of the Canyon
• Contribution to Senior Projects
• Theatre Fundraising Events
• Major Contributor to De Portola Middle School Sports
• Fresh Start Program to surgically correct physical deformities of children.
• Iodine Deficiency Disorder, a Kiwanis International worldwide project to resolve iodine deficiency in third world countries.
• Contributing to the Kiwanis International goal is to eradicate Tetanus in underdeveloped areas

Voices for Children: staging or funding an annual Christmas party for over 600 attendees including 300+ children aided by the Voices For Children organization.

Children’s Hospital Radiothon and Miracle Mile of Quarters: support of this invaluable community resource for children

Hurricane Katrina Victim Relief: Collecting and transporting needed supplied to aid Hurricane Katrina victims in Wiggins, Mississippi.

Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April): Club members and the Kiwanis Key Club at Serra High School led efforts in a restoration projects for the needy.

Ugandan Orphan Project: foundation and club providing funding for subsistence, education and medical needs of five Ugandan Orphans

1976 Charter Members

John Akstin, III

Phillip R. Babb

Robert N. Berke

John R. Bolger

Vernon D. Bowman

Sid Brooks

Gherry K. Bryant

James R. Caproni

Tom Cherniss

Dr. James O. Cleveland

Charles Christian

Roger Crobarger

David Crosby

Dan Desmond

Edward P. Dick

Neal Farinholt

Randolph T. Fillet

Robert French

Francisco S. Gamboa

Rev. Jerome Groth

Dr. J. Andrew Hunter

Richard A. Lange

C. Logan McKechnie

Louis McLemore

W. Kymberly Murphy

Roger Nutter

Charles A. Peake

Michael Pent

William Perry

Michael J. Stevenson

Anthony R. Tirpak

James Vlassis


Presidents of the Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta


John Bolger

1996 – 1997

John Haigis *

1976 – 1977

Vernon D. Bowman

1997 – 1998

Ed Williams

1977 – 1978

Vernon D. Bowman *

1998 – 1999

Duncan MacDonald *

1978 – 1979

Mike Pent *

1999 – 2000

Ron Carnago

1979 – 1980

Thomas G. Cherniss *

2000 – 2001

John Haigis D

1980 – 1981

Daniel R. Driscoll *

2001 – 2002

Ed Williams *

1981 – 1982

George V. Paluso H

2002 – 2003

Deborah Foley *

1982 – 1983

Don Longacre *

2003 – 2004

Jim Law *

1983 – 1984

Jay Kopp *

2004 – 2005

John Hopper *

1984 – 1985

John Bailey  *

2005 – 2006

Mike Pent  * # k  H

1985 – 1986

John  Schellinkhout

2006 – 2007

Rex Warburton *

1986 – 1987

Troy M. Joplin

2007 – 2008

Marty Cary


Ed Williams

2008 – 2009

Deborah Foley *

1987 – 1988

Dr. Hani Shatila * k H

2009 – 2010

Dick Wilken *

1988 – 1989

Randy Bosch

2010 – 2011

Cathy Chesire

1989 – 1990

Thomas G. Cherniss * k

2011 – 2012

Ed Williams

1990 – 1991

Jesse Lee Jones

2012 – 2013

Lonnie Folsom

1991 – 1992

Paul Liberto

2013 – 2014

Dr. Paul Crane

1992 – 1993

Davis Bowman

2014 – 2015

Irene Cannon

1993 – 1994

Diane Frank

2015 – 2016

Jim Cote

1994 – 1995

Larry Carter k

2016 – 2017

Mike George *

1995 – 1996

Kathy Cafiero *

2014 – 20152014 – 20152017 – 2018

Jim Knox






Presidents of the Kiwanis Foundation of Tierrasanta

1997 –  2000

Thomas G. Cherniss

2005 – 2007

Jim Law

2000 –  2005

George V. Paluso

2007 – Current

Mike Pent



Tierrasanta Members Servicing as Kiwanis District Officers

 1984 – 1985

Mike Pent

President, Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District Foundation



                         Division Lieutenant Governors

  1980 - 1981

Mike Pent #

Division 21

  1998 - 1999

Ian Wotherspoon

Division 21

  1999 - 2000

Billie Lange

Division 26

  2001 - 2002

Jeff Ott #

Division 21

  2008 - 2009

John Haigis

Division 21

  2016 - 2017

Lonnie Folsom

Division 21








Distinguished President


Distinguished Past Lt. Governor


Kiwanis Life Member


District Life Member


Kiwanis Legion of Honor (25 or more years of Kiwanis service)


Deceased Members are listed in Italics





View and Print History of the Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta

Charter of the Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta March 14, 1976

Kiwanis Club of Tierrasanta Charter Night May 14, 1976

Serra High School Key Club Charter January 1979

U.S. House of Representatives Resolution-Patriot's Day, May 2018