Berkuta Named La Cañadan of the Year

Retired L.A. Sheriff’s Dept. lieutenant and former LCF Public Safety commissioner Nicholas Berkuta III was named La Cañadan of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada.

Berkuta, his wife Mary Ann and their family have been La Cañada Flintridge residents for 37 years.

“Nick served in the city as a young deputy sheriff and would come home with glowing reports about what a great city he observed in his daily rounds as a deputy,” recalled Mary Ann. “He would tell me that some day we will live in that city.”

Berkuta made his wish come true and moved to La Cañada Flintridge in 1976. He soon immersed himself in city life, involving himself in many city activities and, in many cases, taking on leadership roles.

Berkuta served for 14 years as a city public safety commissioner and is currently a parks and recreation commissioner, having been appointed by the city council in 2012. He has also been active in the La Cañada Coordinating Council, and now serves as membership chair. In the 1980s, he was a member of the chamber of commerce as a recreational director and served on the Fiesta Day Parade Committee in 1983, 1984 and 2006.

Working with children has been one of Berkuta’s passions over the past years and he was involved with the Boy Scouts of America and with the Indian Guides at the YMCA as tribe chief 1978 to 1990.

Berkuta has had an ongoing interest in emergency preparedness and personally led the Kiwanis Emergency Mudslide Volunteer Response Team for the city, setting up a call center soon after the major fire struck the city. He directed 150 spontaneous convergent volunteers responding to intense media publicity for help. His efforts and those of volunteers provided assistance to 35 homeowners with mud and debris flows that inundated their properties. As a result of the success of the project, the city requested a continuance of the Kiwanis project.

He has also undertaken leadership roles in the La Cañada Tournament of Roses and with the school district as a current member of the school board Oversight Committee.

He and Mary Ann have been married for 43 years. They have three adult children: Nicholas IV, Christina and Robert.  He earned an MBA from La Verne University and an undergraduate degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

The La Canadan of the Year celebratory event will be held at noon on Wednesday, May 1 at Van DeKamp Hall at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge. Reservations can be obtained by calling  (818) 790-9901. Lunch is $20. Early reservations are recommended.

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