By Nicole Weskerna - firstname.lastname@example.org
MALTA – Six nominees were honored Thursday evening for their selfless contributions to their communities during the annual Tribute to Heroes ceremony at Kishwaukee College.
Robert and Doris Boey, Gordon and Betty Koehling, Mike Larson and Tom Thomas were recognized by the Three Fires Council of the Boy Scouts of America, for their dedication, involvement and service in DeKalb County.
Harold Dannewitz, one of the committee members charged with selecting Tribute to Heroes honorees, said the committee usually recognizes a family or individual from each corner of the county. Everyone honored Thursday received an American flag that had also touched each corner of the county, symbolizing how each honoree had touched the lives of those in their communities.
“We look for longevity, and what they mean to the community,” Dannewitz said. “It’s quite an honor.”
Those awarded for their services hardly consider their contributions to their communities an outstanding feat.
“Ask these people about themselves, and they’ll say they live ordinary an ordinary life,” said emcee and Tribute to Heroes committee member Cohen Barnes. “But they strive to be better. They do a little more.”
Larson said he was surprised when he received a call notifying him that he was chosen to receive the honor.
“I told them, ‘you don’t want me,’ ” he said. “But they persuaded me to do it, and I’m happy and honored to be one of the honorees.”
Larson’s military experience, and volunteer service with the KishHealth System, Kishwaukee YMCA and the DeKalb and Sycamore chambers of commerce earned him recognition for his contributions.
“I try to participate to the best of my ability,” he said. “I think you should leave a committee or group better off than when you started.”
The Boeys were selected for their involvement in numerous groups and activities, including the Kishwaukee Hospital Foundation, United Way, Kishwaukee College Foundation, Northern Illinois University and the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation.
“Good health care, quality of life, higher education and economic development – these are the building blocks I believe in,” Robert said during his speech. “It is our turn to do something to pave the way for future generations.”
The Koehlings have collectively contributed 86 years of service to DeKalb County. Both have been active in the Boy Scout program for more than 30 years, and Betty has been involved with the Scouting for Food program since it began 23 years ago.
“It’s been one whale of a lot of fun, and one whale of a lot of work at times,” Gordon said. “But helping young kids and working with the troops has really been a pleasure.”
Thomas, mayor of Sandwich, was awarded for “going above and beyond his call of duty,” said Marc Strauss, who introduced Thomas during the ceremony. “When you talk about Sandwich, you have to talk about Tommy. He is Sandwich,” he said.
Thomas has served as mayor of Sandwich for more than 20 years, and has also dedicated his time as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic. Like everyone else honored during the ceremony, Thomas said he didn’t consider himself a hero.
“The Boy Scouts are probably the real heroes of this,” he said. “We’re proud of the Boy Scouts of DeKalb County and everything they do.”