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Valey Free Press - Saturday September 20, 2010

Three fires Council honors local heroes


Date: September 20, 2010 Section: News

MALTA — The Three Fires Council, Boy Scouts of America, invites the community to the eighth annual DeKalb County Tribute to Heroes on Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Kishwaukee College Conference Center. Registration begins at 5 p.m., the reception with hors d’oeuvres is at 5:30 p.m. and the formal ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. The honorees are Tom Thomas of Sandwich, along with DeKalb residents Robert and Doris Boey, Gordon and Betty Koehling, and Mike Larson.

The Tribute to Heroes Awards recognize members of the DeKalb County communities who have unselfishly dedicated themselves to community service and to the welfare and development of its youth. Leadership, citizenship and helping others are important qualities that the Boy Scouts of America instill in its youth and looks for in adult leaders. The honorees provide excellent examples of not only these qualities but community responsibility and personal integrity, best typifying the objectives of Scouting.

Opportunities for sponsorship begin at $75.

Tickets are available for $50 each at the Daily Chronicle office, DeKalb, and at the main branches of Castle Bank, DeKalb, and National Bank & Trust, Sycamore. For more information, call Mary Beth Wilfong, Three Fires Council, at 630-797-4622.

About the honorees

Tom Thomas

Tom Thomas has been an active community volunteer in DeKalb County and mayor of the city of Sandwich for a significant part of his life. He has served as mayor for more than 20 years and as a Sandwich alderman for eight years prior. In 1989, Thomas ran for mayor as a write-in candidate and has remained mayor ever since. Also, he has served as park district commissioner, a paramedic and a volunteer fireman.

In addition, Thomas has served on many boards to improve DeKalb County and the city of Sandwich. He has been an active community member serving on boards to study and evaluate economic development, the improvements of water and flooding, the expansion of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore, and the Sesquicentennial Celebration of DeKalb County. Thomas also has supported and volunteered his services on many political campaigns over the years.

He has volunteered for charitable organizations such as Open Door and Fox Valley Older Adults Services. In the late 1970s, Thomas became involved in Sandwich Boys Baseball as a board member, president, manager and umpire. In 1984, he became one of the original founders of Sandwich Freedom Days, which is still celebrated every Fourth of July weekend.

Thomas is proud to have been involved in the many accomplishments and public works projects completed under his administration. Serving the public has been an important part of Thomas’ life because he believes in working for a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Robert and Doris Boey

Bob and Doris Boey’s story is a love affair that has taken them from a youthful romance in New York City to the cornfields of northern Illinois. Bob and Doris Boey have experienced much during their 48 years together and giving back to others has become a staple of the life they’ve shared. DeKalb County is richer because of their community involvement, much of which will be reviewed during their induction into the 2010 class of Tribute to Heroes.

Bob Boey was born and raised in Hong Kong; arriving in the United States as a young collegian and earned his degree in mechanical engineering at Steven Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. While in New York, he met Doris at her family’s restaurant; they were married in New York.

Doris attended Michigan State University, returning to her native roots as a junior teacher in New York City’s public school system. Professionally Doris parlayed talents in systems management at Rockland Community College and Lederle Labs, both in New York, and at AG Communications in Genoa.

Bob spent the early part of his career with Anaconda Wire & Cable, rising to corporate manager of engineering in Sycamore from 1962 to1985. It was after Anaconda’s announcement to close its Sycamore facility that he and Doris decided that this region had indeed become home. In 1985, Bob launched American Bare Conductor, and became co-owner of Sycamore Industrial Park.

Life in DeKalb-Sycamore has witnessed an array of community involvement for both Bob and Doris. Bob has been instrumental in the growth of both Kishwaukee College and Northern Illinois University — where he has been board chair of each institution’s board of trustees. He has also had key roles with Kishwaukee Community Hospital, DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, Castle BancGroup and the city of DeKalb.

Doris has used her talents in a host of volunteer activities, including board service with 4-C and Oak Crest, community relations work with Kishwaukee Health Foundation, and fundraising involvement with the United Way and Kishwaukee College Foundation.

The Boeys have both been involved with their parish, St. Mary’s in DeKalb, where they co-chaired in the United in Faith campaign and when they find the time, enjoy walking the fairways at Kishwaukee Country Club.

For those who really know the Boeys, they will agree that Bob and Doris are most proud of bringing up their two children — Christopher and Valerie — in DeKalb, and seeing them successful in their careers. Chris is married, resides in New York and owns his business there. He and his wife, Susan, are parents of twin boys. You can easily see the pictures of Carson and Connor — just ask. Daughter, Valerie, who resides in Florida, is an award-winning TV journalist with FOX News.

Gordon and Betty Koehling

As a boy, Gordon Koehling was a Boy Scout in Troop 7 in Elburn, while Betty Koehling was involved in the 4-H program as girl. As adults, they became active in Scouting when their three sons entered Cub Scouts. Though their youngest son received his Eagle Scout more than 30 years ago, they have continued their strong commitment to scouting.

Combined, they have devoted 85 years of service as scouting volunteers. They have worked with boys and adults through leadership training, planning, committees and events. They’ve established new Cub Scout packs, worked as commissioners for Cub packs and Boy Scout troops, and developed and led new district events and council level programs. Both have visited Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico; Betty for training instruction and Gordon for taking boys backpacking, spending valuable time spent hiking trails and climbing mountains.

One example of their dedication is a series of annual Scouting for Food programs where Scouts collect food for local food pantries. They have coordinated Scouting for Food since its inception 23 years ago. Thousands of food items each year help support local families in need. It has also helped hundreds of boys to understand how their hard work can make a difference in meeting the needs of their community.

As members of the First United Methodist Church in DeKalb, they have been long involved with various committees over the years. They have also picked up church members for services and picked up food for the food pantry. Gordon served as an usher for 25 years. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1950-1953. Betty once played as a musician in the DeKalb Municipal Band.

Mike Larson

Michael Larson is a great example of “local boy makes good.” It is only recently that he retired from his family business, but that has not prompted Mike to continue to give back to the area he loves. Mike’s Scouting background in DeKalb is but one chapter of a life of community service. It is that selfless service that leads to Mike Larson being named as one of 2010’s heroes.

Mike is one of three Larson brothers, all of whom helped run the local contracting business, Elmer Larson Inc., started by their father. Mike would eventually become president and general manager of the Larson concrete and quarry business, working alongside brothers Steve and John. The trio sold the business in 1998 to Vulcan Materials. During their tenure there, they were also involved in subdivision developments in Sycamore, DeKalb, Waterman and Cortland.

Born and raised in DeKalb, where he became a First Class Boy Scout, Mike earned a degree at Northwestern University. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army, most notably with the 24th Engineering Battalion in Germany from 1966-1969.

Volunteer service has been important to Mike during his career, and his list of community activities is lengthy. Board service has included the Kishwaukee YMCA, DeKalb and Sycamore chambers of commerce, KishHealth System and Castle Bank. Mike has also served on the board of the DeKalb County Community Foundation, the DeKalb Finance Advisory Committee, and various national sand and gravel professional associations. A leading proponent of ReNew DeKalb, Mike was also very engaged with Former Speaker Dennis Hastert, serving on the congressman’s Finance Committee.

Mike is married to Mary Larson, with whom he has shared countless community activities. The Larsons are parents of two grown children, Dan and Barbara.


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