The Nice Guys honor Joe Harper as 2019 Nice Guy of the Year

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Nice Guys, a local non-profit 501(c)3 organization, will honor Harper at their 40th annual major fundraising gala. The event will be held at the Marriott Marquis in downtown San Diego on Saturday, October 26, 2019.  Each year, the Nice Guys recognize someone who has given their time, money and support to help San Diegans improve their lives.

The Nice Guy of the Year event is also a fundraiser for San Diego Nice Guys charities. This year, at the request of Harper, part of the funds raised will be given to The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation and The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. The remainder of the funds will be for Nice Guys projects and individual San Diegans who need a “one time” helping hand up to get their lives back on track. The Nice Guys Charity Committee identifies these cases throughout the year. “Every single dollar we raise goes to needy San Diegans,” said David Walters, this year’s Nice Guy of the Year Committee Chair.

Founded in 1979, the Nice Guys of San Diego is an all-volunteer nonprofit 501(c)3 organization of more than 177 men and women, with no paid staff. In 2018 they provided more than $780,000 to underserved San Diegans, including $340,000 by their Victory Fund in assisting military families. Their total charitable distributions now exceed $21 million with 100% of every dollar raised going to needy recipients. All Nice Guys operating costs are paid by its members.

“We are privileged to have Joe Harper as our Nice Guy of the Year,” said Nice Guys President, Jeff Schreiber. “His achievements as a businessman are matched only by his generosity for others in our community. He is a dedicated community leader who has been a long-time contributor to many organizations in San Diego. He exemplifies what the Nice Guys organization and its members are all about.”

Harper is Director, President & CEO of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.  Since assuming management of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in 1978, Joe Harper has guided the historic track founded in 1937 through a period of growth and success unparalleled in America. During this period, Mr. Harper has overseen Del Mar’s emergence as one of the nation’s top racetracks for daily average handle and attendance while preserving its elegant, yet casual, ambiance, which makes it unique.

Harper initially came to Del Mar from Santa Anita where he served as Executive Vice President for the Oak Tree Racing Association. At Del Mar he first served as executive vice president and general manager. Then in 1990 he took on the roles of president, chief executive officer and general manager.  He has been a director of DMTC since 1985.

He is involved in a wide range of interests.  He is a member of The Jockey Club, the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the Advisory Board for the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program.  He is the former President of both the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and the Federation of California Racing Associations.  He also serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the California Center for Equine Health at U.C. Davis and as Chairman of the Winners Foundation, a drug and alcohol counseling center for the California racing industry.  Additionally, he serves on the board of the San Dieguito Boys and Girls Club and The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation.

Harper takes personal pride in serving as a Trustee of the Cecil B. deMille Foundation. Through that Foundation he has been very active in supporting education and film preservation at U.S.C., U.C.L.A., and Chapman University.  The deMille Foundation was the major contributor to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for constructing their research center in Beverly Hills. In January of this year he received the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.

A native Californian, he is the grandson of deMille, the famed producer, and as a child actor appeared in the “Greatest Show on Earth” and “The Ten Commandments.”  He and his wife, Barbara, live in Del Mar. They have four daughters and nine grandchildren.

Past recipients of the “Nice Guy of the Year” award include:

Douglas O. Allred                              Dr. Jack Fischer                                 Dan Mulvihill

Hudson & Bauer                                Ron Fowler                                         Conrad Prebys

Ron Blair                                             Ernest Hahn                                       Ernest Rady

Bob Breitbard                                     John Helmer                                      Debra Reed

Terry Brown                                        Robert Horsman                                Frank Rhoades

Claire Burgener                                  Tawfig Khoury                                    Ted Rossin

Malin Burnham                                  Bill Kolender                                       T. Denny Sanford

John W. Carlson                                 Frankie Laine                                     George A. Scott

Father Joe Carroll                              Gene Luth                                            Peter Seidler

Billy Casper                                         John T. Lynch                                     Dan Spinazzola

John Duffy                                           William Lynch                                    Gayle Wilson

Peter Farrell                                         Papa Doug Manchester

Lou Ferrero                                         Mike McKinnon

John Moores

Categories: Local San Diego News