Looking dapper in a gray, tartan-style suit and stripped red bowtie, Michael Patrick Duffy looked stunned at the eruption of applause when he walked into the historic Yasoo Yani Restaurant in downtown Stockton Friday afternoon.
The Valley Strong Credit Union chief advocacy officer grinned and looked overcome with emotion as he was promptly presented with a plaque naming him the 2022 Stocktonian of the Year.
“They really surprised me,” Duffy could be overheard saying with wonderment as he moved further into the restaurant’s dining room toward the crown waiting for him. “I’m going to Tahoe in about an hour!”
And one of the many important people who gathered at the restaurant to surprise Duffy with the honor was Occeletta Briggs. With bright smiles they hugged and laughed together while chatting, Duffy’s arm still around the longtime fellow Stockton resident who nominated him.
Briggs has known Duffy and his father since she came to Stockton in the 1960s, joking that her customer number at their credit union is one.
As a fan of Duffy’s generosity, Briggs found herself one day looking at the list of people who’ve won Stocktonian of the Year and was unable to fathom why Duffy wasn’t among them. He’d helped so many people and organizations, she said, noting that he’d never turned down a request for help for any of the myriad organizations of which she belongs.
“He is the ultimate public servant,” Briggs said, who was able to gather 20 letters of recognition to add to Duffy’s nomination. “He’s just been a wonderful Stocktonian.”
The covert shindig was thrown for Duffy by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and the Central Valley Association of Realtors.
“He’s involved in so many nonprofits, so many board of directors, and just the generosity of himself,” Chamber CEO Timm Quinn said.
Duffy was born and raised in Stockton. He graduated Cum Laude with a degree in international relations, later earning an international master’s degree in business administration from Pepperdine University. But his heart has always remained in his hometown.
“I love Stockton, and so I find every which way to be a part of Stockton,” Duffy said. “If it’s from the north, to the south, the east, the west, the tiny neighborhoods, the big events, the very small not-for-profits, the very big ones, if I can be there enjoying this city with everybody I’m there.”
He served on the Fiserv Incorporated CEO Advisory Committee directing technology planning and development of products for over 100 credit unions nationwide. Duffy also supports his credit union’s involvement revolving around technology, marketing, and political advocacy, and earned recognition from the Credit Union Executive for his creativity and risk-taking.
He has received 26 Golden Mirror marketing awards and in 2020 raised $1 million to the Stockton Strong Funds. Five high schools in the county have financial literacy programs provided by Duffy.
“It’s within our DNA to take care of this community,” said Duffy. “We are a good set of folks that are hard-working, who are tough, who are resilient. We are the 209.”