Irish Person of the Year

Irish Person of The Year Nominations Approved By SADOE Board

The SADOE Board approved two nomination for Irish Persons of the Year, which were voted on by members at its general meeting. Congratulations goes to SADOE Members  Cindy Ainsworth and Fran Tryon.

Their bios are presented below:

Ainsworth was nominated for the Irish Person of the Year because of her efforts to sustain the tradition of laying shamrocks at the Blanchfield grave before SADOE began our annual memorial ceremony in 2012 and her efforts with preserving Reno’s history. Cindy began carrying on the tradition in 1998 after meeting Barbara Rabenstine, whose family home was struck by Blanchfield’s plane on Aug. 1, 1924.  Rabenstine had carried on the tradition after Reno undertaker Silas Ross had died in 1975. Cindy is a founding member and past president and board member of the Historic Reno Preservation Society (HRPS) and currently serves as administrator for their grant program, the Reno Heritage Fun.  HRPS is one of the longest surviving non-profit preservation organizations operating in Reno today. Part of her work with HRPS led her to researching the historic stretch of the Lincoln Highway through the city and she has developed an East Fourth Street corridor walking tour and have also participated and developed a bus tour featuring the Lincoln Highway through the cities of Reno and Sparks.  She was instrumental in helping the city install Lincoln Highway signs along the Reno section of East Fourth Street. Today she serves as the President of the Nevada Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association. Cindy was awarded with the City of Reno Historical Resources Commission’s  2003 Distinguished Service Award for her work with HRPS and the community.  In 2005 she was appointed by the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office to the Commission as a citizen representative.  She has been involved in many city preservation issues including serving on the Reno Preservation Plan and Conservation District organizing committee. The Preservation Plan and the Powning Conservation District became a reality in 2008, a first for Reno. Cindy and her husband Tom have lived in Reno since 1978, originally from Southern California, where she earned her BA in English and Art from CSU Northridge.  Her love of aviation history, the Reno Air Races, and the early US Airmail service, led to manage the National Air Race Museum in Sparks and her association with the National Automobile Museum led to an invitation to be a contributing curator for the 70th Anniversary display at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport in 1998. Cindy descends from the Irish family of Monahan from the Connacht/North Mayo region and figures her ancestors were part of the immigration wave caused by the Great Famine in the 19th Century.  She says being Irish means finding the mystery behind her Irish family origins that she feels closer to than her Eastern European roots.


Frances (Fran) Tryon was nominated for Irish Person of the Year for her efforts in restoring and preserving Hillside Cemetery.Tryon is a founding board member, past president and current treasurer of the Hillside Cemetery Preservation Foundation, which was formed eight years ago. The foundation was formed after a developer sought to turn the burial grounds located a few block west of UNR into apartments. At the time the foundation was incorporated, the cemetery had been almost unrecognizable after years of neglect and vandalism full of brush, trash and debris. Since then the foundation along with community organizations including boys scouts, churches and private schools have participated in cleaning and restoration efforts. SADOE along with our sister organization I Southern Nevada teamed up to clean and restored over 30 Irish-American Family plots from the 19th Century in 2019. The cemetery is the resting place of many prominent families several of whom bear the names of well known Reno street names such as Plumb, Mayberry and Peckham and includes the grave of Irish American Congressman George Cassidy.Not only has Fran led efforts to restore the cemetery, but she has engaged in years of ancestral research to identify family plots and connecting descendants with their family graves. She estimates more than 1300 are buried at the cemetery.Fran was born in Grants Pass, OR and has lived in Reno more than 60 years. She graduated from Sparks High School, holds a B.A in Education from UNR and a M.A. in Theater Arts from Memphis State in Tennessee. She currently teaches music at a local pre school and is a retired theater teacher from the Washoe County School District.She has been recognized for her restoration efforts with an ward from the City of Reno for Historical Preservation, and the Boy Scouts of America.Fran is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Women’s Relief Corps and the Knights of Pythias Auxiliary.Her Irish ancestors descends from an entire village in County Antrim on one side of her family and from County Cork and Donegal on the other with associations to theLynn, Salmon, Reed and Doughtery Families.Fran says what being Irish to her means “understanding why my family was so rowdy and loves to argue and the need to connect from where I am from.”

Cindy and Fran join a list of previous Irish Persons of the Year winners who have made an exceptional contribution to the Sons & Daughters of Erin.
This award has been bestowed on:

2023 Paul Beaton & Michael Del Ostia; 2022 Erin Breen; 2021 Donald Abbott & Doyle Stewart; 2020 Marli (Missy) Reinheimer & Ralph McMullen; 2019 Jan Brady & David Bobzein; 2018  John Callan & Courtney Meredith ; 2017 Brittney Hardiman; 2016 Christopher Moreland & Judi Shanahan; 2015 Jeremy & Eve McNeil; 2014 Mark Sullivan & Kathleen Eagan; 2013 Lisa Arteaga; 2012 Greg Harris ; 2011 William Puchert; 2010 Archie Redmond; 2007 Patricia Jewett; 2006 Mike Steedman; 2005 Sherri Simmons; 2004 Bettylou Reed; 2003 Charles Neely; 2002 John McCarthy; 2001 Noreen Neely; 2000 Pat Lantz; 1999 Janine McGinley; 1998 John Reeves; 1997 Ross Salmon; 1996 Pat Martin; 1995 Hugh Lantz; 1994 Danny McGinley; 1993 Geno Oliver; 1992 Con Galvin; 1991 Denny Healy Jr.; Joe Smeltzer, Dinny McGinley, Charles Neely,and many more 

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