By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
The 16th class of inductees into the Senior Saints Hall of Fame were announced on Friday, with 2013 being a year of 13 inductees.
"We usually try to stay with 12 inductees, that's the benchmark," said Hall of Fame Committee member David Keen. "This year we had a tie, so we will be inducting 13 saints."
Senior Saints are chosen through a nomination process, which includes three letters of nomination; a committee of people from outside Jefferson County then read the letters and score the nominations. The scores are tabulated and the top nominees are inducted.
"Just because someone you nominated is not inducted this year, please be sure to nominate them again," said committee member Jerry McCracken. "We have so many who are deserving, and next year may be their year."
Those individuals chosen for the Senior Saints Hall of Fame are:
Robert "Bob" Brown, who dedicated 41 year of his life to the field of education, teaching at Edison Grade School and Mt. Vernon Township High School. He served as guidance counselor at the high school from 1972 to 2009. He is a deacon at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. He served as a member of the Mt. Vernon Police and Fire Commission for a number of years. He is a member of the National Teacher Association, Illinois Teacher Association, and a past member of the St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital Board of Associates, as well as first vice president of the Auxiliary Board. He is a volunteer for the American Red Cross and the United Way. He is a member of the St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board. He is a recipient of the Rend Lake College Distinguished Alumni Award and the NAACP Freedom Award. He was inducted as a MVTHS Distinguished Alumni in 2011. He is a member of MidCountry Bank Scholarship Committee, a counselor Emeritus of Cedarhurst.
Linda Duckworth became a nurse for Crossroads Community Hospital in the intensive care unit, and through the years shown her compassion for others. She has been active in fundraising and raising diabetes awareness through ADA. She was two-time president of Crossroads Community Hospital Auxiliary. Under her leadership, the chapel and gift shop were placed in the hospital. She was very active in establishing the Veterans Memorial in Woodlawn. She worked with the committee for the memorial on events and fundraising. Throughout the years, Linda has been active in her church, teaching Sunday school classes, working in VBS and the church nursery. A few years ago, she saw a need in the community for a place for people in need to acquire clothing and household items. with the help of her Sunday school class, she established "God's Closet" along with the "Harlow Food Pantry."
Norma Dyer retired from Illinois Bell Telephone Company to become a township employee helping others through the work program. She became township clerk and served for more than 20 years. Her volunteerism includes a wide variety of participation. She has been a Girl Scout leader for many years. She volunteers with the hospital auxiliary at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center, where she helps in the gift shop and other areas of the hospital. She is an active member of her church and has helped on numerous projects including building fund drives, food pantries, teaching Sunday school, VBS, coordinating fellowships, funeral meals, nursery care and more. She volunteers for Meals on Wheels every week. She has been an active member of the township government and volunteers her time to the Jefferson County Historical Society and the public library.
George Gifford worked for many years at Tri-City Grocery in Mt. Vernon and Kroger prior to his retirement. During his 91 years, he has continued to show tremendous love for his community and country. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor and served in the South Pacific during World War II. Closer to home, he was the village board president of Waltonville. While holding that position, he was instrumental in many changes and improvements including securing a sewer system for the village. He is described as a hard worker and provider for his late wife of 68 years, Dorothy, as well as his children and grandchildren. He continued to make a difference int he lives of those close to him as a man of faith who loves and supports his church.
Cleo Holt has been an active member in the Jefferson County community throughout the years, as a teacher/administrator of Mt. Vernon City Schools for more than 30 years; with the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the African American Heritage Committee, the Mt. Vernon Prayer Breakfast, the Black College Expo, NAACP and more. He now serves as the associate pastor of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, where he is also a Sunday school teacher. He contributes his time and efforts to Cedarhurst, Mentors for Kids and the United Way. He has served the city of Mt. Vernon on the Park Board and the Zoning Board. He is currently a member of the Jefferson County Development Corporation. Cleo is an active volunteer at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center and serves on its Foundation board.
Bill Hogue works full time as a department manager at Continental Tire while acting as the minister of music at Park Avenue Baptist Church, where he also serves as chairman of the deacons. He created the patriotic music program as well a the Living Christmas Tree program at the church. He delivers food to the needy in Jefferson County and surrounding ares. He assists community members in need of support who are without their own means during wind or snow storms, tornado damage or any critical matters affecting county citizens. He has even been named the "road commissioner" by his neighbors for this actions of mowing and keeping his neighborhood clean and beautiful.
Melba Jenkins is a lifelong resident of Jefferson County. After retirement from Sears and Kmart, she spends time as an active member of Crossroads Chapter of Senior Circle. She helped with the planning and implementation of craft days for her fellow senior members. Not long after joining the group she and some other members formed the Senior Circle Stitchers, which make blankets, throws, bibs and other items for area hospitals and nursing homes.
Les Marlow is a supporter of youth in Jefferson County. He spends a great deal of time in attendance at school activities and to lend support and encouragement to the youth of his church and community. He is a retired mail carrier in the rural Dix area and delivered mail to the door for those who had difficulty getting to their mail box. Whether it be a snow storm or tornado, he is one of the first to respond and help in any way he can. He goes the extra mile for Boyd Church. He can be seen mowing grass, helping someone move or assisting his neighbors and friends with odd jobs.
Maggie Mays is a member of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church where she is part of the mission board and the choir. She has been involved with the food pantry and delivered baskets to the needy. She has been an active member of the Order of Eastern Star and served as Worthy Matron for the chapter. She would provide transportation to meal sites, doctor's appointments and voting places. She was a team leader in the Cancer Crusade. Maggie, along with her husband Clarence, helped to bridge gaps between races in the community.
Eloise Morris is very active in the Mt. Vernon community. She has been employed part-time for 28 years as the secretary for the Jefferson Fire Protection District. Her behind-the-scenes administrative support enables responsive firefighting response and emergency services support for Jefferson County. She is a long-time member of Park Avenue Baptist church where she has served in a broad spectrum of roles including teaching children, supporting VBS, serving on various committees and traveling to Bulgaria on a mission trip. She has been a member of the Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary for 35 years. She is secretary for the Auxiliary Board of Directors and works at the Bargain Box to help raise funds for the hospital. She has been described as a Proverbs 31 woman.
Norma Jane "Janie" Reynolds has worked along side her husband, Pastor Ron Reynolds to build the Mt. Vernon Christian School and Mt. Vernon Baptist Temple. She served as a teacher and administrator for many years, allowing her to mentor hundreds of students, many of whom she still has contact with today. She is no stranger to adversity and is seen by those who know and lover her as a constant beacon of strength.
Richard Stubblefield as always been active in community and civic affairs. He is a leader in youth and educational functions. He was instrumental in building the K-12 school in Sesser. He served as a dedicated board member for the combined unit district. He taught at MVTHS from 1967 until his retirement in 1999. He advised the YMCA Youth in Government program for more than 25 years. He served on the board of the Farm Resource Center, a statewide non-profit group that provides mental health and case worker support for families who struggle with natural disasters. Other community involvement includes Third Degree Mason, Member of Ainad Shrine, former elder and youth leader at Central Christian Church, elder and youth leader at Woodlawn Christian Church, volunteer coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation, Speak-Up Speak Out Advocacy program, treasurer for the Sara Stubblefield Foundation Scholarship program, Jefferson County Retired Teachers Legislative liaison and more.
Byron Vance, also known as "Mr. Bluford" served on the village board for many years, where he was instrumental in bringing municipal services to the village. He was a member of the Jefferson County Civil Defense and the president of the PTA at the high school. He also served as postmaster for Bluford. In addition to this, he was deeply involved in the constantly improving evolution of the Webber Township Fire Protection District. He has been an active member of the Bluford Ruritan Club, organzing and working int he annual Engine Show and Spook Walk. He served as president of the Sweet Corn and Watermelon Festival. Byron and his wife, Mary, have spent countless hours volunteering with the American Red Cross. He played a key role in organizing and constructing the Bluford Community Veterans Memorial.