GVC and Riverview Bank announce Ron Onslow as 2022 First Citizen Award honoree

The Greater Vancouver Chamber (GVC) and Riverview Bank are proud to bring Clark County the 82nd presentation of the First Citizen Award, an honor given this year to Ron Onslow, former mayor of the City of Ridgefield and retired local business owner.  

Since 1939, this award has been honoring a local member of the community who has modeled exemplary citizenship, and through their business, volunteering and philanthropic efforts has improved the lives of those in the community by serving first.   

“I am so humble, speechless and very proud of being selected for the First Citizen Award. Even after my retirement, I am still involved in the community, and I love it,“ said Onslow about this honor.  

Onslow is a familiar face in Clark County and his family name has echoed throughout the Greater Vancouver region since the 1940s. He started his journey at the University of Portland where he received a bachelor’s degree with a major in business and a minor in psychology. He got involved in the business community, owning and operating three restaurants and one deli-bakery. On the side, he worked with local clubs and committees, coaching countless youth in swimming, fastpitch softball and football. Onslow never hesitated to step in when needed.  

RON ONSLOW

“I took my daughter to sign up for fastpitch softball and there was no coach, so I said: Well, I will coach them. I believed in females becoming athletes because I have five daughters and the only way that they would get into athletics is if I helped them, so I ended up being a coach. I also signed them up for swimming and ended up coaching swimming for 29 years,” said Onslow.   

Throughout his career, Onslow has been committed to a vast number of boards and commissions, including the Northwest Ski Club Council, Greater Vancouver Chamber, Miss Washington pageant, American Softball Association, Advisory Board for the Culinary School at Clark College, the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, Discovery Clean Water Alliance, C-TRAN, Urban County Policy Board, and the Association of Washington Cities. 

From his entire professional career, Onslow admitted that becoming the mayor of the City of Ridgefield changed his life. Interested in city government, he began attending city council meetings. When an opening on the council presented itself, he stepped forward and said he thought he could help, becoming the mayor of Ridgefield and maintaining the position for 10 years. 

“I thought at the beginning there is no way I can run this city by myself, even though I have owned three restaurants at one time; but I was very social, approaching people on the streets and I became a very social mayor,” said Onslow.   

When Onslow got elected and assumed the office, the city of Ridgefield population was approximately 2,900 people. Now with nearly 12,000 people, Ridgefield has been in the top three fastest growing cities in the state for the last 12 years.

“People are very proud in Ridgefield. When we were almost 3,000, I knew practically everybody; now I don’t. I have a lot of handshaking to do,” said Onslow.  

Throughout his impressive career, Onslow has been honored as Junior First Citizen of Vancouver, named to the Outstanding Young Men of America and Outstanding Employer for work done with the Vancouver School District. 

“It was a shock to me to be selected for the Junior Citizen Award. It was probably the first award that I have ever had in my life, and I was very proud. That is when I started thinking about politics,” said Onslow.  

The Greater Vancouver Chamber and Riverview Bank are pleased to introduce Onslow as this year’s First Citizen. For Kevin Lycklama, President & CEO at Riverview Bank, “the First Citizen Award helps to memorialize the best of the community”. Riverview Bank is proud to sponsor this award, as this honor embodies their same values with a focus on: volunteerism, business accomplishments, community investment, and philanthropy.  

The First Citizen Award will be awarded during the Greater Vancouver Chamber’s Business & Leadership Awards Livestream, presented by Port of Vancouver USA, on Thursday, September 29. During this event, local businesses and individuals will be recognized across varied categories including Start-Up to Watch, Small Business, Large Business, and Statesperson.    

“The Greater Vancouver Chamber is honored to continue the legacy of recognizing incredible members of our community through the First Citizen Award. Ron Onslow is a well-known, successful business owner and leader in our region. He has been impacting lives in our community throughout his entire career and continues making an impact still. We are excited to celebrate and recognize Ron with this well-deserved recognition,” said GVC President & CEO John McDonagh.   

For more information about the awards and sponsorship opportunities, please contact the Chamber at YourChamber@VancouverUSA.com or go to VancouverUSA.com/Business-Leadership-Awards/. 

Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.