Prolific volunteer Tuttle named Petaluma Citizen of the Year

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One of Bob Tuttle’s two mottoes is: “Learn something new every day.”

On most days, the 26-year Petaluma resident pauses to reflect on what he learned.

“The key is to stop at the end of the day and say, ‘What did I learn today,’” said Tuttle, 73.

His other motto — “Learn something, use something, teach something” — creates a feedback loop with his first motto, so that each day as he learns something new, he teaches it to others.

With a resume of three decades of service to the Petaluma community and beyond, Tuttle employs his mantras, teaching others to help themselves. For his work giving back to the community, Tuttle was announced Friday as the Petaluma Citizen of the Year.

“I’m honored to have the award,” Tuttle said. “I feel it’s important for all people to take responsibility for their communities. If you are going to use the resources of a community, you should give back to it.”

Tuttle’s volunteerism touches many aspects of Petaluma, but his main project has been working with Rebuilding Together Petaluma, a nonprofit that helps low income people repair their homes.

After growing up in the East Bay, Tuttle went into the Navy and was trained as an electrician. He has put those skills to work as a project manager for Rebuilding Together. For the past six years, he has managed two projects per year, including recruiting and managing 20 to 30 volunteers for work days.

Through the nonprofit, he has fixed up mobile home parks and the COTS homeless shelter. He has repaired the homes of Petaluma veterans and installed security cameras at Walnut Park.

“Those are really rewarding projects,” said Tuttle, who raised four children with his wife and has six grandkids. “Every community project is enjoyable. You see a change that you get to see again and again.”

Perhaps some of his most rewarding volunteer work has been international projects through his Sunrise Rotary Club, which he has been in for 30 years. He has traveled to Argentina and Chile to make videos to help train surgeons repair cleft lips and cleft palates. He has worked in Dominican Republic, helping to build school classrooms. He has visited Ukraine several times to collect data on infectious diseases for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Back in Petaluma, his volunteer efforts extend beyond Rebuilding Together. He has also helped with Project Graduation, the Boys and Girls Club, Petaluma People Services Center and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Tuttle will receive his award April 18 at the Petaluma Community Awards of Excellence at Rooster Run Event Center. In nominating him, Jane Hamilton, executive director of Rebuilding Together Petaluma, and Elece Hempel, executive director of Petaluma People Services Center, said Tuttle’s depth of knowledge makes him a valuable asset to the community.

“At this point in his life, Bob probably spends more time contributing to make this a better community than he does making a living,” they wrote. “We are so lucky to have Bob Tuttle in our community.”

Tuttle still stays busy working — he started an information technology business consultancy, Tuttle Associates. But his main passion is volunteer work.

“Free time is one of those things you decide to make,” he said.

(Contact Matt Brown at matt.brown@arguscourier.com.)

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