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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Fort Payne Chapter, NSDAR presents annual awards and scholarships

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Above / The 95th Street Library provided the setting for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Fort Payne Chapter to host its Annual Awards Ceremony on Sat., April 13. (PN File Photo)

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Fort Payne Chapter recently hosted its Annual Awards Ceremony to recognize and celebrate the remarkable achievements of numerous outstanding members of the community.

Fort Payne Chapter, NSDAR award recipients are pictured at the April Awards Ceremony pictured with Regent Jill Brewer and Mayor Scott Wehrli. (Photo courtesy DAR)

Fort Payne recorded over 7,000 volunteer service hours in the community in 2023 and sponsored fundraisers and donation drives to give not only these scholarships, but to support other community and Veterans groups.

Mayor Scott Wehrli attended the special ceremony and personally extended his heartfelt congratulations to each recipient as they were presented with their well-deserved honors and scholarships.

As a gift of thanks for taking the time to capture timeless memories with the recipients, Fort Payne presented Mayor Wehrli with a copy of “No Ordinary Life: Memoir of a World War II Bombardier” authored by Fort Payne member Sue Johnpeter. The copy given to the mayor was signed by both the author and the subject of the book, WWII Veteran Glenn W. King, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 96.

Daniel Webster Scholarship

The Daniel Webster Scholarship is given to high school seniors attending one of the six local high schools who are pursuing a career path utilizing Math, Science, or Technology. After receiving applications from 17 seniors the Fort Payne Chapter awarded two scholarships for $1000 each. The recipients of The Daniel Webster Scholarship were Saishreyas Peddainti from Waubonsie Valley High School who will be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities majoring in Honors Biology, and Sophie Lin from Neuqua Valley High School who will be attending the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign majoring in Computer Science.

Fort Payne Educational Scholarship

The Fort Payne Educational Scholarship is to honor a high school senior attending a local high school who has been accepted to a college or university with a career direction toward a teaching profession. This year, Fort Payne was pleased to award the $1000 scholarship to Katherine Roberson of Naperville North High School who will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Elementary Education and Special Education. As one of her teachers wrote, “Katie is passionate about teaching and makes learning exciting for young learners.”

DAR Good Citizens program and Scholarship Contest

The DAR Good Citizens program and Scholarship Contest encourages and rewards the qualities of good citizenship in high school students. DAR Good Citizens are selected based on demonstrating dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism. The overall chapter winner of the essay scholarship contest for $150 on the topic of “Civic responsibility and the shaping of America” was Ani Apresyan from Metea Valley High School. Kaelyn Marie McGhie was the recipient from Neuqua Valley High School, Audrey Hayes Hartmann was the recipient from Naperville North High School, and Isabella Maria Olivares was the recipient from Benet Academy. Each school’s DAR Good Citizen received a DAR Good Citizen pin and certificate.

Fort Payne DAR Excellence in American History Award

The Fort Payne DAR Excellence in American History Award is given each year to an outstanding teacher-recommended 8th-grade student who has demonstrated excellence in the study of US History. The students may also write an essay, and this year’s topic was “Why is the US Constitution so important?” Fort Payne was pleased to present the award to Julia Esser of Saints Peter and Paul School in Naperville, IL, whose well-constructed essay included Calvin Coolidge’s quote, “To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”

Outstanding Teacher of American History Award

The Fort Payne Chapter was pleased to present the Outstanding Teacher of American History Award to Edwin Q. Noel of Benet Academy in Lisle, IL. Mr. Noel has taught US History and Political Science for 38 years and has especially enjoyed teaching his honors “America Since 1945” class. He is an impassioned and impressively relevant instructor, and, according to his staff, “one needs only to talk with his former students to understand the gift he has been to our school, our students, and the teaching of American History.” Edwin Noel also received an additional certificate signed by the Illinois State Organization DAR State Historian, Cyndi Valencia.

National Defense Distinguished Citizen Medals

National Defense Distinguished Citizen Medals were given to two individuals who exemplify honor, service, courage, leadership, and patriotism. Recipients of this award must have contributed to the defense, security, or freedom of the community, state, or nation in an exceptional manner.

Patrol and Field Training Officer Marty Franken from the Naperville Police Department received the National Defense Distinguished Citizen Medal for his 29 years of service helping families in need, training new recruits, being a Field Training Officer, learning and sharing the most recent developments in police department systems, and many more reasons while always showing his professionalism and compassion. According to his nomination from the police department, Marty “understands the technical and procedural aspects of the job. He stays current with technology, knowledge, skills, and abilities while demonstrating a willingness to learn new methods, procedures, techniques, or systems to enhance his level of expertise.”

Lieutenant/Community Advocate Response Team Coordinator Bill Kostelny from the Naperville Fire Department received the National Defense Distinguished Citizen Medal for his 21 years of service as the department’s leader of the SCBA division, leader of the department’s UAS team, leader of the MABAS Division 16 UAS team, leader of the bike medic program, leader of the department’s Pump Testing program, and many more contributions. Lieutenant Kostelny was not able to attend the ceremony due to teaching a water rescue class, so Fort Payne looks forward to presenting Lieutenant Kostelny with his award at a future date.

Fort Payne Chapter Outstanding Junior Member

Kirsten Renn was named the Fort Payne Chapter Outstanding Junior Member for her contributions to the chapter. Kirsten has been an active member of the chapter for several years and has been an integral part of several chapter committees. Junior Members are women aged 18-35 and are the future of DAR.

DAR Excellence in Historic Preservation

Don Johnson, Lisle community volunteer, was awarded the DAR Excellence in Historic Preservation medal and certificate for decades of work in the service of documenting and preserving history in the community of Lisle, IL at the historic Lisle Cemetery and with the Lisle Heritage Society.

Constitution Week Awards

Constitution Week Awards were given to Tom Hartmann from Blink of an Eye Productions and Madeleine Miller for their work creating an original Constitution Week film using interviews with people on the streets of downtown Naperville. The film demonstrates the impressive knowledge of the Constitution and the passion of community members.

Outstanding Dedication to Veterans Award

United States Marine Corps Reserve Capt. Jennifer Slown was honored with the Outstanding Dedication to Veterans Award for her work placing a Gold Star Family Monument in Naperville and for her work supporting the mental health of veterans.

2024 Community Service Award

Fort Payne Chapter chose Kelly Dougherty and Kristy Kennedy to receive the 2024 Community Service Award. Kelly Dougherty and Kristy Kennedy live in the area which was hit by an EF-3 tornado in June 2021. Their homes were not damaged but 60 of their neighbors’ yards were filled with glass, nails, and debris that would come up after each rain. The children couldn’t play in their yards, people couldn’t garden, host a barbeque, or just enjoy the outside in their yards. The clean-up for the yards was not covered by most insurance policies and was very costly. Kelly and Kristy founded Naperville Tornado Relief and set a goal of raising $1.5 million to pay for the removal of the yards and then the placement of new topsoil and grass seed for all the yards that were damaged. When they were acknowledged at the Naperville City Council a neighbor spoke and shared, “Kristy Kennedy and Kelly Dougherty are what community means because they stepped in when nobody else knew what to do, and they kept fighting for us.”

Posthumous / Outstanding Dedication to the Community Award

In honor of his unwavering service to our community, Fort Payne Chapter, NSDAR honored Ron Keller with the Outstanding Dedication to the Community Award and presented it to his wife, Vicki Keller, at the ceremony. Keller, who passed away at age 84 on January 24, 2024, had been involved with the Naperville Municipal Band since 1951 and became music director in 1966 when he was only 26. He had recently retired in 2023. 

Keller had worked tirelessly to get the New Community Concert Center built in Central Park. He developed the band over the years into a premier organization which was honored in 1991 with the prestigious Sudler Silver Scroll Award presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, recognizing excellence in community bands. Prior to retirement in 1993, he was K-12 Coordinator of Music for School District 203 and Director of Bands at Jefferson Junior High.

Ron Keller

Keller founded the Ron Keller Scholarship Award to financially support a young musician who is inspired to become a music educator. Throughout his life, he had spent many hours volunteering to mentor youth and adults who also have a passion for a music career. His civic and benevolent volunteer service to the community made a big impact.

To celebrate and honor Ron Keller’s legacy, the Naperville Municipal Band Concert from July 2023 was played during the reception following the award ceremony.

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution since 1890

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to preserve the memory and spirit of those who contributed to securing American independence. For more than 130 years, the DAR has strived to bring awareness to the honorable sacrifices and enduring legacy of all patriots who fought for America’s freedom. Through the DAR Genealogical Research System (www.dar.org/GRS), the public can access a free database of information amassed by the DAR about these patriots. DAR is a nonprofit, nonpolitical women’s service organization with more than 185,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide.

Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership. DAR members passionately carry out the timeless mission of promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. To learn more about the work of today’s DAR, visit www.dar.org.

For more information about DAR or regarding joining the volunteer women dedicated to serving the community, contact Fort Payne Chapter Regent Jill Brewer at nsdarfortpayne@gmail.com.

Report submitted by Fort Payne Chapter / PN File Photos

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