Chamber hands out top awards

Thursday, February 3, 2011
Top honor Democrat Photo The Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce's Community Service Award was presented to Jerry Marple by Michael LeCompte, incoming chamber president. The award is given each year to one extraordinary person who has dedicated their time, energy and resources to strengthening the Cassville community.

A man who has impacted the lives of countless young people and adults during the 30 years he's lived in Cassville was honored by the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce on Saturday night.

Jerry Marple received the prestigious Community Service Award during the chamber's annual dinner. As Michael LeCompte, the incoming chamber president, explained, the Community Service Award is presented each year to an individual who has donated time and energy to the Cassville community and made a lasting impact on the people they have helped serve.

Marple's influence has spanned 30 years, and he has worn many different hats since moving to Cassville in 1980. He served as Cassville High School principal from 1980 to 1989, and after retiring from the education field, joined Willis Insurance as a partner and still works there today.

"Coach" is another of the positive roles Marple has played in the community. From 1993 to 2008, Marple coached the Cassville American Legion baseball team, influencing the lives of hundreds of young athletes. He was also a charter member of the organization that formed the Cassville Little League Association 22 years ago.

In honoring Marple, LeCompte said one of Marple's admirers described his unique way of inspiring players to do what it takes to succeed.

"He was able to convert average joes into college athletes, and more importantly, young boys into respectful men," LeCompte shared.

Marple is also an active member of a number of local service organizations. His involvement has included: serving on the boards of PACE, the Cassville Community Foundation and the Cassville YMCA; holding leadership positions at the Cassville United Methodist Church; serving as president of the Cassville Rotary Club and Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce; and volunteering with the Gideons.

Marple received a standing ovation from the crowd of around 140 when he accepted his award.

Another dedicated Cassville resident was honored Saturday night with the chamber's Volunteer of the Year Award. Carolyn Bowen received the honor for her community involvement.

"Each year, the Chamber of Commerce proudly recognizes someone who has given countless hours to serve our community," said LeCompte. "Our Volunteer of the Year, Carolyn Bowen, is not only a volunteer but a great role model."

Bowen, a Cassville High School graduate who now serves as a member of the Cassville R-4 School Board, gives of her time to a number of area organizations including the American Cancer Society, Silver Leaf Benefit Club and Beta Sigma Phi service sorority.

Bowen, who owns Finishing Touch Interiors with her husband, Don, is also an active member of the First Baptist Church of Cassville, a volunteer at the chamber office and the backstage manager for The Show.

The banquet also served as an opportunity for chamber members to recognize outgoing board members. Mike McCracken, Jeremy Marple, Donna Hayes and Virgil Harrington were all honored for their service on the board.

Chamber Executive Director Mindi Artherton also thanked all the chamber members who serve on committees as well as her team of office support volunteers. Sylvia Sturgeon received special recognition for filling in as interim chamber secretary for the past eight weeks. Artherton said Saturday's banquet marked the 22nd one Sturgeon had attended.

Catering for the chamber banquet was provided by John Sullivan, and members of the Cassville High School FCCLA Chapter were the servers. The CHS commons area was transformed into a beautiful banquet setting by Accents-N-Tents. Jo Ellen Fielding provided dinner music.

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