|By David Simpson, The Press of Atlantic
City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 20, 2012--Dennis Gomes, the late casino executive, was honored by the more than 700 people in attendance at the Metropolitan Business and Citizens Association's 22nd annual award gala at Resorts Casino Hotel Monday night.
Members of the Atlantic City business community, and family members spoke fondly of Gomes, who died in February of complications from kidney dialysis.
MBCA President, John Schultz, said that Gomes, who was the former Resorts CEO, was the obvious choice for this year's recipient of the Community Spirit Award. The vote, which is decided by board members and usually a close race between several candidates, was unanimous this year, he said.
Schultz spoke about Gomes' kindness as an individual and his strength as a business man.
"Those of us that know Dennis well knew that God had given Dennis an overabundance of the love gene," he said.
He then introduced a short film that included an old interview with Gomes and current interviews with executives from several Atlantic City casinos.
Two of Gomes' daughters, Gabrielle Gomes and Danielle Chapman spoke, receiving a standing ovation. His wife, Barbara Gomes, was also in attendance.
"Our dad may have been born in California and raised in Las Vegas, but he chose to call Atlantic City home," Chapman said. "He truly cared about this community, and he was privileged to call many of you his dearest friends. Tonight was such a beautiful tribute and our dad would be so honored to receive this award because it's a direct reflection of all that he was."
Gary Van Hettinga, Resorts' current CEO, spoke highly of Gomes and his contributions to Resorts.
"Dennis is not only a great mentor to many of us here, he was just a great friend to the Atlantic City region," he said. "And it's very safe to safe that if wasn't for Dennis, the doors to this facility probably would not be open, and we're so happy Barbara and the family are here to celebrate him."
Lisa Marie Gargione, fiancee of Gomes' son, Aaron Gomes, closed out the ceremony, singing "Circle of Life," from Disney's "The Lion King."
The gala also served as an opportunity to swear in new board members of the MBCA. The first gala, was attended by 100 people, Schultz said.
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