Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award was created in 1988 and awarded to Jack McCracken that same year.

The award is based on contribution to community welfare and betterment; participation in all-around community activities and civic enterprises; evidence of lasting contributions to community welfare; evidence of leadership ability; success in vocation; personal and business progress and cooperation with individuals and organizations.

The award is presented during the chamber’s Annual Membership Banquet and is the highlight of the evening’s events.

On occasion, an individual leaves this life too soon, and the chamber feels compelled to recognize that individual after the are gone.  In these instances, a Posthumous Distinguished Service Award is presented to the family of that individual.

Special Distinguished Service Awards are also bestowed for special achievements.

 

In 2023, the Chamber made a significant decision regarding the recognition of distinguished individuals who had demonstrated exceptional service during their lives. Due to the number of deserving candidates, both living and deceased, it was determined that more than one Distinguished Service Award should be presented at the Annual Membership Banquet. However, in order to properly honor the legacy of those who had passed away, a separate Posthumous Distinguished Service Award ceremony was also established. This service is held in the spring and is dedicated to recognizing multiple distinguished individuals who have passed away. By separating the two ceremonies, the Chamber is able to more fully celebrate the accomplishments of both living and deceased individuals. The Distinguished Service Award presented at the Annual Membership Banquet in the fall remains a highlight of the Chamber’s calendar, and the memorial service in the spring serves as a touching tribute to those who have left a lasting impact on the community.

 

Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Joe Ayersman is well known within the sports community for his “phone book” of accomplishments. Many in this community know him as a babysitter, an employee at Bryan’s Dairy, Jr. High Football player and High School Wrestler, a History Teacher, and an Army Sergeant.
After 36 years of military service from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard of the 28th Division, he has stated that retiring with the rank SFC E7 he was a very proud member of the “B” company.
Joe took on many coaching roles over the course of 33 years. At one point or another taking the role of head coach for Waynesburg Central Junior High Football, Wbg. Junior High Wrestling, and Waynesburg Central Varsity Wrestling. During his time as a Varsity coach, he was able to put 5 WPIAL Championship titles, as well as 3 WPIAL runner up titles under the teams belt. He is well known for producing 3 state champions during that time, Joe Throckmorton, Doug Haines, and Dave Thomas. He is the only wrestling coach to obtain WPIAL titles in Class AAA and AA. He accredits these achievements to his wrestling mentors, Frank Bonifield, Bucky Murdock, and Ernie Closser. These mentors contributed to his mindset on and off the mat, also helping his model for his 33 year teaching career as an American History and Social Studies teacher.
In 1988, Joe was honored to be inducted into the Wash-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania State Wrestling Hall of Fame.
When leaving Central Greene’s Campus, Joe spends time with his life Lila (happily married for 59 years), and his 4 children (2 sons and 2 daughters). His impact in our classrooms and sports community is something that has continued to be carried on through generations.

Waynesburg University President Douglas G. Lee joined Waynesburg University as Executive Vice President in October 2009, working closely with then-President Timothy Thyreen. He was unanimously elected President of the University by the Board of Trustees in September 2012 and took office July 1, 2013.

Under Lee’s leadership, Waynesburg University has received national attention for the economic outcomes of its graduates. Studies published by The Brookings Institution, The Economist, USA Today and MONEY Magazine have placed Waynesburg University at the top nationwide for this type of category.

Also under Lee’s leadership, the University has been recognized regionally by the Pittsburgh Business Times as a Best Place to Work for 2015 and internationally as one of the most beautiful Christian college campuses in the world. In March 2015, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) awarded Waynesburg University reaccreditation for a ten-year period, and in September 2015, the University was awarded Imani Christian Academy’s 2015 Leadership in Service Education Award. The University was also named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for eight consecutive years.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the University developed and implemented a health and safety plan that allowed for the successful completion of the 2020-2021 academic year in-person and on-campus without layoffs or reduction in benefits to any employees.

Lee recently led the $23 million revitalization of the Paul R. Stewart Science Hall, a major renovation project that overhauled the interior of the building and updated its exterior to match the overall architectural context of the University’s campus.

During his time as president, the University has also grown in programmatic offerings, including the Stover Center for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership. In addition to its undergraduate programming, the Stover Center annually hosts a continuing legal education seminar for judges, scholars and practicing attorneys at Jesus College in Cambridge, England.

The University has also implemented a Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, chaired by Dr. Melinda Walls, the recently elected President of the United States Association of Small Business Entrepreneurs and a member of a PRAXIS subcommittee on nonprofit entrepreneurship. A Pathways Center has also been developed, focusing on integrated and comprehensive student success. Part of this new program is the University’s Achievement Academy, which offers college courses to high school students as well as seminars and other services to post-graduates.

Lee has served as the Chair of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Presidents’ Council and on the Board of Directors for the Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP). He was recently appointed to the NCAA Division III Board of Governors. Lee previously served as Chair of AICUP’s Members Services Committee for two years, from July 2020 through June 2022, and was recently elected secretary/treasurer of AICUP’s Board of Directors.

In 2022, Lee was named a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and received a peer-reviewed “Very High Rating” in both Legal Ability and Ethical Standards from Martindale Hubbell. He was selected as an awardee of the Pittsburgh Business Times 2017 Outstanding CEO’s and Top Executives. He was a co-recipient of the Southpointe CEO Association’s World Class CEO Award for 2016 and was named to The Pennsylvania Business Central’s Top 100 People list of 2013. He was also the recipient of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) General Greene District of the Laurel Highlands Council’s 2015 Good Citizen Award and has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America®, having spoken and written extensively on workers’ compensation and labor and employment law topics.

The Charleroi, Pennsylvania, native and son of the late Gilbert G. Lee Jr. and Donna Duvall Lee is a 1977 graduate of Charleroi Area High School and a 1981 graduate of Waynesburg University. After graduation, he formed a multi-line insurance business, building the business while also attending law school. Lee sold the business upon graduation from law school and joined the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson. He became a partner in the firm in 1998 and managed a practice group consisting of nine attorneys and 15 paralegals.

During this time, he remained active at Waynesburg University and was instrumental in the formation of the University’s Alumni Council. Dedicated to his alma mater, Lee served as a member of the Board of Trustees including Chair of the Academic Matters Committee and Board Secretary.

He is an elder at the Presbyterian Church, has served on the Greene County Planning Commission and is a graduate of Leadership West Virginia. He is an Eagle Scout, has served on the Executive Board for the Mountaineer Area Council Boy Scouts of America and is a member of the Fort Jackson Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.

Lee has served on the Board of Directors for the Union Rescue Mission in Fairmont, West Virginia, the Harrison County Bar Association Board of Directors, the Westminster Foundation of West Virginia and the Howe Cemetery Board. He was a volunteer fireman for more than 13 years

An endurance athlete, Lee is a finisher of three Ironman Triathlons and six marathons, including the Marine Corps Marathon and Death Valley Marathon.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathryn, and they have two children and two grandchildren.

Debbie (Deborah) Wilson is a well-known name in the community for her active involvement in volunteering. She has been volunteering for several years and has made significant contributions to various organizations. Debbie is a board member and the current treasurer for the Greene County Historical Society Museum, where she works on all events and projects, especially the Christmas Tree decorating portion of the Holiday Open House. She is also a dedicated member of the hospital auxiliary, where she serves as the president and volunteers several days a week to help those who need assistance in the hospital.

Apart from her community involvement, Debbie is very active in her church, the Hewitt Presbyterian Church in Rices Landing. She has served in many roles during her time there and is active in the Women’s group. Debbie is the wife of Rev. Donald P. Wilson and has been helping with his ministry throughout the years. Lastly, she is a proud mother of “Crazy” Dougie Wilson of WANB. Debbie’s involvement in various community organizations and her dedication to her family and church make her a valuable asset to the community.

Many people know Barb from several places. Known for being a rotarian, an advocate, and a volunteer since retirement. Once working at the Hallmark in the Greene Plaza, her always smiling face and helpful spirit made her a favorite of many of the stores’ customers.
After departing Greene Plaza, Barb took a position at Community Action Southwest (now known as Blueprints). Her volunteer spirit was born here. One of the events from Washington County that she decided to put a spin on for our county took place at the Greene County Courthouse, and it soon became not only Community Actions biggest fundraiser but also one of the signature holiday events in our area.
Shortly after EverGreene Technology park was built, Barb went to work for one of the original tenants, the R.J. Lee Group. She took on community liaison tasks where she served alongside leaders to work on outreach. She left R.J. and finished the workforce years by retiring from the Director position of the Greene County United Way. She worked with partner agencies that all provide a wide range of services for the underserved of Greene County. She began the now widely successful “Stuff the Bus” which to this day continues to serve families and children in our area when school is right around the corner.
Post retirement, Barb devotes more time to local non-profit organizations that are near and dear to her heart. She has served the Rotary Club of Waynesburg in officer and chairwoman positions. She is the current President, holding this office for the 2nd or 3rd time. Prior to President, she served as the secretary for many years and was even our District Governor. She was the force behind the Rotary Winter Wonderland Gala that was held for several years at the courthouse prior to the pandemic. She co-chaired the original committee for Rotary’s Flags for Heroes project, and the flags still fly at the fairgrounds for July 4th and Veterans Day annually.
Barb is still a member of the Corner Cupboard Food Bank Board of Directors and the Community Foundation of Greene County Board of Directors. She is currently an individual member of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce, having served as a board member multiple times, held several offices and chaired numerous committees. She is also a past member of the Washington Health System Greene’s Auxiliary.
While now officially retired, she exhibits the definition of volunteerism with grace and humility by continuing to fill her days with volunteer service, traveling with her husband Pat, and enjoying time with her family and grandchildren.

This year’s Distinguished Service Awards are presented to a couple, Margaret and John Rock, better known as Peggy and Jack.

We’ll start with Peggy… well known throughout Greene County for her commitment to service, Peggy is originally from New Wilmington in Lawrence County. Born into a family of six children, she studied at Waynesburg College, earning a B.A. in history and her good works began in earnest in Greene County.

Working with no fewer than 42 organizations over the years, her tireless dedication led her to hold elected officer positions in more than 15 of those organizations. Her service interests ranged from helping children (Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Cub Scouts, Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to cultural (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Symphony) to animals (Save-A-Horse Sanctuary, Greene County Humane Society) to locally based service organizations including Greene County Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Waynesburg Rotary Club. In addition, Peggy has also been a businesswoman and was the Office Manager at St. Ann Church of St. Matthias Parish in Greene County for 18 years. Always humble and kind, Peggy is known as the go-to person who will row the boat and not rock it.

Jack, on the other hand, is a Greene County native and US Air Force veteran, serving during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War as a flight-line mechanic working with the B-47 Strato Fortress.  After stints in the Robena Mine and with West Penn Power, Jack attended the State Police Training School at Hershey, and served as a trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police for 27 years.  He had special duty assignments to Johnstown during the Johnstown flood disaster of 1977 (when 12 inches of rain fell in 24 hours and 41 people were killed as dams failed) and with the Flight 427 airplane disaster near the Pittsburgh Airport in 1994, which killed all 131 persons on board.  He also served for 17 years on the Pennsylvania State Police Scuba Team!

In addition to his public service as a Pennsylvania State Trooper, Jack has maintained memberships in many, many organizations throughout the area, ranging from the Laurel Valley Corvette Club and the 4-H Horse and Pony Club to Rotary International (Waynesburg Club), the Greene County Humane Society and Greene County United Way.  He is also in the Fourth Degree Chapter of the St. Ann Church of St. Matthias Parish Knights of Columbus.

The value of community service is well known to those in the audience, and certainly Peggy and Jack exemplify dedication to the place where they live.  But as a side note to the benefits that can be gained from community service: Peggy and Jack met at the Rotary Club and married in 2000.  Community service certainly has its rewards!

If you’ve spent time at some of Greene County’s historical landmarks, cruised on in to 50s Fest, or possibly even needed help along the road to recovery, chances are you’ve encountered George ‘Bly’ Blystone in your travels. Bly’s talents and willingness to help others have made him an integral part of our southwestern Pennsylvania community. And he has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Bly was born and raised in California and grew up in the Valley and Hollywood. The Blystone family was from this area of Pennsylvania, having settled here in the 1700s. The family eventually made their way to Wisconsin and then to Hollywood for the film industry. In 1970 Bly moved to Greene County with his friend John Eckerd and his family. John and Bly were both Civil War buffs and wanted to be closer to Gettysburg. Greene County was a perfect fit with a “cheap farm for sale.” Bly spent 40 years in reenactment as part of Knapp’s Battery and his time with the reenactment group led to his longest volunteerism – The Greene County Historical Society Museum.

Knapp’s Battery headquartered at the museum’s location on Rolling Meadows Road. At the museum’s grand opening, the Battery was part of the flag and later began holding reenactments there. Bly began volunteering at the museum, and he celebrated 50 years as a museum volunteer in April. Through the museum, Bly also became involved with the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop in Rices Landing. At the time, the foundry was owned by the Greene County Historical Society; it later was sold to Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation in 2009.

When Rivers of Steel took over ownership in 2009, restoration efforts were increased. Bly continued his services, additional help was found, scrap and trash were thrown away, and the foundry was cleaned up. Now the foundry is open every Sunday for tours.

George also got Bly involved in the 50s Fest & Car Cruise held annually in downtown Waynesburg. His involvement started small, but when George died, Bly was determined to be a part of the event and began parking cars the day of the event. Bly is also a member of the committee and instrumental in the organization of the goody bags provided to attendees at the event.

Bly is also the caretaker for the clock at the county courthouse in Waynesburg. Because he had worked on the museum’s clock and got it running, Farley Toothman reached out to Bly to get the courthouse clock working. After a workman said it was unfixable, Bly took a look, did some research and was able to find the necessary gears to fix it, which he did. The clock has been running since 2010.

But it’s Bly’s work in recovery that is the most meaningful for him. As a recovering alcoholic with 42 years sober, Bly has spent decades helping others on the same path. He is currently  on the Human Services Board of Directors and on the Drug & Alcohol Committee. “If I don’t have my work in recovery, I don’t have anything,” Bly says.

When Bly came out Gateway Rehab in 1979, he realized that while the groups talked about being anonymous, “If I’m anonymous, nobody knows. And that’s not good. I told myself and everyone else that I wasn’t going to be anonymous.”

After his time at rehab, Bly got a job at the hospital through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). As Bly worked at the hospital and the staff there learned more about him, thanks to his pledge to not be anonymous, he began helping those that came into the Emergency Room that were drunk or needed help with alcoholism. During his sixteen years at the hospital, Bly started an Alcoholics Anonymous group at the hospital to help others.

“Alcoholic Anonymous teachers you how to live another way. A lot of that stuff is naturally in my everyday life. One day at a time, one minute at a time. It all works.”

After leaving the hospital, he and a group of others started Steps Inside in 2002. Through Steps Inside and the Community Recovery in Rural Communities Committee, volunteers began helping with addiction and recovery, while spreading the word that there was help available. Community outreach included a march for addiction awareness in Greene County, a role in the Town Hall Meetings, and providing information at local events.

The group’s community efforts branched out to include an additional resource for those in recovery. In 2014, the men’s Oxford House Cumberland in Waynesburg was opened. In 2016, the Bird Sisters Oxford House for women was opened. Both homes had high success rates but unfortunately, had to close due to dwindling resources. But that hasn’t stopped Bly or Steps Inside. They continue to provide outreach for community members struggling with addiction and recovery.

In 2019, Bly was honored with the Jack McCracken Award during the July Rain Day celebration. The award is presented “to an individual who has been a humanitarian, civic leader, role model, who served God, family and community with integrity and an open heart.” Bly received a plaque on the Rain Day stage during the awards ceremony. This award was only the start of the cascade of recognition that Bly was to receive over the next couple of years.

In early October, the Tourist Promotion Agency of Greene County introduced the Hospitality Awards to recognize events, employees, and volunteers for their dedication, service, and community involvement. The Hospitality Volunteer of the Year honors a volunteer who goes above and beyond normal volunteer responsibilities and judged on outstanding service to their place of volunteering, community, and visitors. The announcement that Bly was the winner was made even more special by the fact the event was on his birthday. He even got a birthday cake!

Receiving the 2019 Distinguished Service Award is John “Buzz” Walters. Mr. Walters is a graduate of Mapletown High School and a veteran of the U.S> Marines. He began a teaching career in 1960 at West Greene High School where his love of sports also turning into coaching. He coached football for 8 years and wrestling for 32 years. He also coached at two other high schools in the area.

He is recognized throughout southwestern Pennsylvania as a crusader of worthy causes, particularly those with military or community roots. He frequently leads the Pledge of Allegiance at county commissioner meetings and when the courts convene. If you see him out and about, he will most likely be on his way to a meeting of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Greene County United Way, the 40-8, the Veteran’s Council of Greene County, Knights of Pythias, Marine Corps League, Retired Coaches Association, United Methodist Church, Loyal Order of the Moose, American Legion, or to one of the many other worthy causes that lie deep in his heart.

In 2017, he received the John C. “Ace” Mann Blue Cap of the Year Award by the American Legion Department of Pennsylvania during a special convention held in Harrisburg. The award is designed to recognize a member of the America Legion, or Legionnaire, who exemplifies the goals and objective set forth by the American Legion.

Over the years, he has served his community in many ways and has received many honors, awards, and titles for his efforts. In addition to being a teacher and coach, he has been an active volunteer and a businessman. His endless passion for local worthy causes he has been a tireless volunteer for many organizations throughout the county and state. But honors and awards are not why he has served and touched the lives of so many. His service comes from within and from a heart the size of Texas.

The first thing that generally comes to mind when folks hear his name is his passion for the annual Leatherneck’s Christmas toy drive “Toys for Tots”. This is a project that he is passionate about, but just one of many. This project reaches 500 plus children each year making the Holiday a little brighter for families facing tough times.

He spearheaded the restoration of the landmark Crouse School on route 21 West just before the village of Rogersville. As a member of the Greene County Historical Society, he worked to secure funding to help with the repairs, donations of materials, and volunteer to help with the work.

He serves on many non-profit boards in the county and is a Masonic Chaplin, member of the American Legion where he served as Commander of the Mt. Morris Legion for 30 years before moving to the same position in the West Greene Legion. His volunteer service does not end with local organizations. In his place of business, Walters Takedown Tire Shop located in Rogersville, houses a wide collection of military, sports, and local historical memorabilia. The shop is worth a visit and guests will leave with a better understanding of the man behind the counter, the place that he calls home, and the importance of serving others with a grateful heart.

Sister Audrey Quinn, joined the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh in 1959 and taught for 25 years in Catholic schools in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg.  In 1989, Sister Quinn came to Greene County to live and minister.  From humble beginnings in a sparsely furnished old farmhouse, she began addressing unmet needs of those around her.

In 1990 she came across a poster seeking foster parents.  Shortly after she became a “Foster Mom” through Greene County Children & Youth services nurturing over 160 foster children, ages 3 days through 16 years. So vested in the mission, she served as President of Greene County’s CYS Foster Parent Association.  Raising the children also inspired her to do more for the wider community.

A regular volunteer with Greene County Habitat for Humanity; Meals on Wheels; St. Ann Soup Kitchen; United Way Appeals and Greene County Mothers Against Drunk Driving, she has also held board positions with Catholic Charities; Corner Cupboard Food Bank; Greene County Children & Youth; Greene County Human Services; Greene County CASSP and the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh.  She coordinates the Produce to People program and handles the recruiting of volunteers for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s monthly program to distribute free food to more than 500 needy families in Greene County.

On her 10th anniversary of arriving in Greene County, along with fellow Benedictine Sister Sue Fazzini, the pair founded “Heart ‘n Sole”, a program to make sure every child in Greene County has a good pair of shoes to start the school year.  The program has provided thousands of new school shoes.  The sisters handle the solicitation, donation collections and distribution of shoes each year.

Presently, as the Director of The Salvation Army Greene County Service Center, she continues to serve by maintaining a free clothing/household good warehouse and coordinates with Emergency Disaster Services for those in dire need of immediate assistance. She assists clients with basic needs  such as food, clothing, utility and rent assistance.   Under her direction the Service Center provides a free summer camp and facilitates programs with other social service agencies throughout the County by coordinating fund-raising efforts, public relations and volunteer recruitment.

          Her work has not gone unnoticed.  In 2008 she was chosen from 3,000 nominees from across the country as one of the “100 Extraordinary Women” sponsored by Kraft Foods. In 2009 she was selected as a top ten finalist from among 3,500 nominees in the CVS Pharmacy “For All The Ways You Care” program and earned an appearance on Good Morning America.  2010 brought the “John McGrady Award” and 2016 the Jack McCracken Award, both for Outstanding Service to Community.

When Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful was published in 1907, the Randolph and Baily Agency (page 120) had been providing insurance and real estate services for 27 years, having been founded in 1880.  Rather than being business owners, Chuck was taught that his family’s role was more of a stewardship — not only for their family, staff, and clients’ assets, but also for the welfare of our community.  Not much has changed in four generations, although they did get rid of the spittoon.

He has been privileged to serve on several local advisory boards;

Children and Youth Services, United Way, Boy Scouts, GCID, GCIDA, GARC, the hospital, tourism and SCI Greene.  He has also worked in a number of capacities with “at risk” young men.

In addition to these, he is most proud of being a cofounder of Greene County Habitat for Humanity in 1984. Habitat has partnered with over 60 families in owning their first home.  He also cofounded the EAL/Greene County College Opportunity Program in 1985. It ran for a decade and mentored over seventy high school students who wanted to be the first members of their families to go to college.  Fifty of them achieved that goal.

Currently, one of the things he is most excited about is being President of Rocky Bleier’s Beating the Odds Foundation. To date, this organization has influenced over 300,000 junior high and high school students with an inspirational curriculum for their personal success.  Four of our county school districts have had Rocky in to speak and are able to utilize their program.

He and his wife Shirley have three sons, and now assist with fourteen grandchildren, who are their closest neighbors. Wellness is an important family value and they are all very active.  Chuck still does short triathlons and 5K’s.  They are actively involved at First Presbyterian Church, where he grew up.

Finally, he and Shirley feel strongly that one of the main reasons God put them on the planet was to mentor college students.  After college, in 1973, they worked at Waynesburg University for three years as residence hall Directors as staff members of the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a college ministry based in Pittsburgh. Sixty-five other CCO campus ministers have followed them here, almost all of whom were hired directly by the University. He continues reaching out to these students, and as long as they will put up with him, (and President Doug Lee allows me), he will continue to do so.

It would be difficult to find someone in Greene County who would have an unfavorable opinion of Gene Rush and his wife, Judy.  In an often thankless and always bittersweet profession, Gene Rush has established himself as a man of character, service and compassion.   His success is due to the trust placed with him and his family because of the consistent and unwavering service they have made a pillar of their lives.

The Rushes have built successful businesses in the last 30 years.  As remarkable and impressive as that is, it remains the least remarkable part of their legacy.

Moving to Rogersville in 1985, Gene purchased the funeral home of the late Robert Lantz.  An Air Force veteran and a funeral director since 1972, Gene brought dignity and impeccable care to all that he did and built a reputation of professionalism and generosity.  Having sincere compassion and dedication to his role in the lives of grieving families, people feel like they matter to Gene because to him, they do.  Every aspect of a person’s time with Gene must and will be perfect as he expects the absolute best for every family.

Gene and Judy opened Rush Grocery in 1993 and became a vital part of the West Greene landscape and welcomed the sense of community that followed and still exists today.  With all their “spare time,” Gene could serve as Secretary of the West Greene Lions Club, a member of the American Legion, Waynesburg VFW, Board of Trustees at Rogersville Methodist Church, Board of Directors of the former Greene County Memorial Hospital, Board of Directors for Community Foundation of Greene County and other civic groups.

Gene and Judy have given a lifetime of service to others in both commitment and deed – offering help to strangers, neighbors, and friends, anonymously, without being asked, without thinking twice.  These are two individuals who, despite their business responsibilities, will reschedule their day to give rides to the doctor, pick up and deliver mail, serve dinners at firehalls and make every person they speak to feel like they are truly valued.

What makes this couple impressive is not simply the financial support or donations; it’s the idea that a person serves simply because they have the ability – a person should give just because they have the means.  It is this reputation that precedes Gene and Judy, and it is that legacy they leave for their children, grandchildren and the people they have served.

 

The Honorable William R. Nalitz joined Judge Grimes on the bench in 1998 (elected to the bench in 1997) when the state General Assembly created a second judgeship to the County of Greene. He was retained in 2007 for a ten-year term and took office in January 2008.
January 5, 2009 – Judge William Nalitz became the first new president judge of Greene County Court in 23 years; with the retirement of the Honorable Judge H. Terry Grimes. The Honorable Grimes remains parttime as a senior judge.
The Greene County judges preside over both criminal and civil cases. The term for a Court of Common Pleas judge is 10 years, and Pennsylvania law states that the judges must retire at the end of the year in which they turn 70 years old.
He is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC and Duquesne University of Law; Honorable Nalitz served as Lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968 in Vietnam, Fourth Infantry Division. Judge Nalitz regularly has taken classes on various judicial topics sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.
He is a member of the Waynesburg Lions Club and a member of the Greene County Bar
Association.
President Judge William Nalitz reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November
and will step down from his seat on the bench of the Greene County Court of Common Pleas at the end of 2014. Before taking the bench, Judge Nalitz practiced law from 1973 to 1997 in Waynesburg with the firm of Sayers, King, Keener and Nalitz (later King and Nalitz).
Nalitz served as a trial attorney from 1991 until 1999, the year when the state General
Assembly created a second judgeship to the County of Greene. He was retained in 2007 for a ten-year term and took office in January 2008. On January 5, 2009, with the retirement of the Honorable Judge H. Terry Grimes, Honorable Judge William Nalitz became the first new president judge of Greene County Court of Common Pleas in 23 years.

Reverend Donald Wilson has spent several years serving the Waynesburg community in more ways than one. Even though he claims to be retired, he is still faithfully serving the local community.

In 1964, Rev. Wilson attended Waynesburg College where he received a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Upon completion, he continued his education by getting his Masters of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Rev. Wilson found a job in West Middlesex, Pa., from 1967 to 2005, where he served as pastor of Lebanon United Presbyterian. He also served as Protestant chaplain at Northwest Regional Correctional Facility of Mercer. In this role, he developed a drug and alcohol self-help program. This program has impacted many of the prisoners’ lives and he continues to impact many people today.

Despite Rev. Wilson being in other parts of Pennsylvania, he always found himself coming back to Greene County. In 1992, Waynesburg University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his professional achievements, community service, leadership skills and involvement with the university. From 1991 to 1999, he served on the Alumni Council, continuing his involvement with his alma mater. In addition, he has been a member of the university’s board of trustees since 2000, with the exception of this past year. Rev. Wilson moved back to Greene County when he retired in 2005.

Upon his return, he served as interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church for five months and at First Baptist Church of Waynesburg for more than three years. He has spent a great deal of his time giving back to this community since his homecoming. To start with, he was chair of the personnel committee of Greene County Historical Society for six years. You can find him making buckwheat pancakes for their annual spring Buckwheat Pancake Breakfast. Another event he assists the Greene County Historical Society with is being chairman of the circus committee. This is the committee that organizes the circus’s stop in Greene County each year. Rev. Wilson loves the circus and takes pride in organizing this event.

He also enjoys serving the community by leading servant song ministries. He has led the annual New Year’s Eve Watch Night Service and the annual men’s spring retreat. He also fills a role on the community advisory committee for Southwest Regional Medical Center and is a board member for Greene County Community Foundation.

In recent years, he is acting as the interim executive presbytery for the Washington Presbytery and interim pastor at the Hewitt Presbyterian of Rice Landings. He also served as the interim director of Christian Life and instructor in New Testament at Waynesburg University. Currently, he is the chaplain for the Waynesburg University football team. In this role he conducts weekly chapel service for the team to get them prepared for game day.

Rev. Wilson is the chair of a committee that established the Annual Muddy Creek Reunion. He also re-introduced and conducts the Greene County Fair Vesper Service. He was one of the founding trustees and is a current trustee of Inspire Greene Leadership Foundation. To add to that, he helped create “Threshing Day” and leads worship service for the Historical Society’s Harvest Festival.

Rev. Wilson has served in many positions throughout his life, contributing to the community in an impactful and positive way. The amount of lives that have been touched by Rev. Wilson’s service is infinite.  Even though he is “retired,” the continuing countless efforts to support Greene County show that his passion for serving this community continues on.

Most people in the area know Tim as “Chief Hawfield”. Time attended Waynesburg College where he me Carol McAndrews who became hi wife. After living in the Washington D.C. area for a few years they had a son. They decided they wanted a better place to raise Tim Jr. so they return to Waynesburg. Tim became a Waynesburg Borough Police officer in July of 1979. Most people don’t know that Tim turned down a job with the Federal government the same day he started with the Waynesburg police Department. His heart was in Waynesburg and that is where he has chosen to serve. In 1981 Tim became Chief of Police and served in that capacity until he retired this past July (2013).

Anyone who knows Tim knows that he didn’t just put in time; he served his community and fellow man. Tim supposedly worked day shift however if you went to the Waynesburg Police Department late in the evening you would still see him at work handling the next problem that came up. In his capacity as Chief, Tim went above and beyond what he could have done or assigned someone else to handle. Tim was instrumental in promoting the “Officer Phil” Program in the area elementary schools. If you talk with anyone who was a student in the Central Greene School district in the last 30 years they remember Chief Hawfield coming to the school and the messages he and the program addressed. They always counted on seeing him next year. Chief addressed countless organizations including parent groups along with civic and governmental organizations. he always had a message to help the community.

Tim has been a member of the “STOP” grant committee since its inception. This committee deals with domestic violence issues in the county.

He has been a member of te “M.A.G.I.C.” (Making a Great Impact Collectively” committee for many years. This group visits local schools and counsels students on problems adolescents face. He is also active with the “Safe Kids Committee” which focuses on child safety. As a leader in the organization has made sure our community is sage by distributing smoke detectors, bike helmets, and car sears for many years.

Since 1995 Tim has served on the Salvation Army Advisory board assisting local people in need and during times of crisis.

Driving under the influence is a serious national problem that affects many families annually. Tim has always been a strong supporter of stringent enforcement of the DUI laws. Tim spearheaded the Greene County DUI taskforce. he did anything and everything to get the DUI taskforce funded and in operation. he did it all from writing the grant to start the taskforce to being at the Sobriety checkpoints stopping vehicles at 2:00 in the morning. He was always the first on there and the last on to leave. He put countless hours into this effort and if you check the statistics, you will see that he made a difference.

Tim also taught criminal justice courses at Waynesburg College for a few years. many students received the benefit of Chief Hawfield’s knowledge and experience.

Tim has a great passion for history, particularly for the civil war. He is a walking encyclopedia on the subject. He is also well versed in the local history of Greene County and the Waynesburg area. He has shared this knowledge with many local groups and individuals.

Another of Tim’s great passions is the Boy Scouts of America. He has served as a pack leader. He serves on the District Committee and has for many years. He currently is the District Chairman and a member of the Eagle Scout Board of review. With his longtime commitment to the Boy Scouts he now witnessing the children he once worked with growing into productive adults using the skills that he taught them.

Chief Hawfield has given countless hours beyond the requirements of his position and the call of duty. His service has always focused on the advancement of Waynesburg Borough and the surrounding communities. In July of this year Chief Timothy Hawfield retired after 34 years of dedicated service with the Waynesburg Police Department. He may have stopped working but he will never quit serving.

Jeff McCracken is a life-long resident of Waynesburg, graduating from Waynesburg Central High School in 1976. He followed in his father’s footsteps and attended one of the top rated pharmacy schools in the country: Ohio Northern University, where he graduated in 1981. At ONU, he was a member of the Kappa Psi social and professional fraternity. Over the years, the fraternity was restructured and is now a national pharmaceutical professional only fraternity comprised of both young men and women. His daughter, Elissa, was a member of the reactivation class of 2008. As a result, they are both proud to say they are “brothers” and yes, they share a secret handshake!

He is the owner of McCracken Pharmacy, an independent retail pharmacy in Waynesburg.  With over fifty years of service to the citizenry, McCracken Pharmacy represents a stalwart pillar of the community and was founded by Mr. McCracken’s father, Jack Hill McCracken, in 1961.  Jeff has over 30 years of experience in the pharmacy profession and was one of the first retail pharmacists in the eastern United States to implement robotic dispensing technology. Customers may not easily be able to discern his passion for keeping the pace with pharmacy technology, but he is dedicated to providing the best service possible. Along those lines, as we all know he has a passion for community service, in his pharmacy and out. Jeff believes that the customer is the most important person in his pharmacy and knows he can count on his loyal and talented staff to convey that message every day.

Jeff has served as both a Deacon and Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Waynesburg, is a member of the citizen’s Liaison Committee at SCI Greene and the Historic Preservation Society of Waynesburg University.  He is a trustee of the Kappa Psi, Gamma Delta Chapter Board of Directors for Ohio Northern University.  Jeff has been a tremendous help to Waynesburg Prosperous & Beautiful in their ongoing effort to preserve and revitalize our historic downtown by serving on the Land Trust Committee and the Community Development Committee, giving his vision and leadership to help further the path of making Waynesburg the place that one would want to live and raise their families.  He has been a business member of the Chamber of Commerce for over 20 years and, as did his parents, supports the Greene County Humane Society.

Outside of the organizations in which he participates, Jeff along with his brother John enjoy weekly bowling. They both await those ESPN cameras to arrive on the scene to capture the talents of their team. To date, they have not appeared. Jeff and John, however, are both optimistic: they keep waiting!

Jeff often goes out of his way to help people, obviously continuing his father’s legacy of selflessly serving our community.  The dictionary defines “serendipity” with words such as “fate,” “destiny,” and “providence.” I believe that not only is it a bit of serendipity that Jeff McCracken is being honored tonight with this prestigious award this evening. Did you know that his father, Jack, was the first very recipient of the award in 1988? I believe that speaks loudly for the values and accomplishments that our town instills in its families. One very important reason Waynesburg is special, is because it can literally grow special families here. And if my skills of observation and memory serve me right, there is yet another younger McCracken in this room this evening: Jeff’s daughter and Jack’s granddaughter.  If you listen to her story, you will learn she represents service in another way. This is yet another example of the best keep secret in southwestern Pennsylvania. Yes, I believe that when Jack McCracken was surprisingly honored as our very first Distinguished Service Award recipient in 1988, little did he know he was starting a family tradition of destiny: and that’s what serendipity is all about. It went around and it came around. And we are all better for it.

With that I proudly congratulate and recognize our Distinguished Award Winner for 2012, Mr. Jeff McCracken.

Posthumous Distinguished Service Award Recipients

To say that John Brodak was a “man of many talents” is an understatement.  Throughout his long life, John was a visionary entrepreneur, with Carmichaels and the surrounding area being the beneficiaries of his efforts.

 

In addition to being a savvy businessman (and electrician, disk jockey and Pennsylvania National Guardsman) who constructed grocery stores, Brodak Printing Company, Brodak Hobby Shop, J&G Electric, and Brodak Manufacturing and Distributing Company, Inc., among others, John’s varied interests extended to softball, baseball, and model airplanes.  He pursued each of his interests with unequaled passion and drive.

 

While the Carmichaels area and its residents certainly were provided with retail opportunities and benefits resulting from his efforts, his community service activities were similarly impressive. He served as an officer of both the Carmichaels and Fredericktown Chambers of Commerce, was a Fourth Degree recipient from the John F. Kennedy Memorial Council 3569, Knights of Columbus, an officer in the King Coal Association, member of the Carmichaels Lions Club (where he was honored as “Man of the Year”), and a board member of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority.  This list is not all inclusive!

 

A devoted family man, John encouraged children of all ages to share his love of building and flying control line airplanes.  His final dream was to provide a place for those similarly invested in this passion to visit.  The result is the Brodak Tower 1 Aviation Museum located at 100 Park Avenue in Carmichaels, which opened posthumously.

 

Thus,  in recognition of all of his contributions to Greene County, it is with great pleasure that the Greene County Chamber of Commerce recognizes John G. Brodak with its Distinguished Service Award.

Rick was the driving force in bringing the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to Greene County. Kind of like a pitbull with a bone, when Rick got an idea in his head, particularly an idea that would support or recognize veterans, you couldn’t change his mind.

He formed a committee, and we went to work in raising fund to cover the expense of bringing the Traveling Wall to Waynesburg. With his leadership, we raised enough funds, coordinated access to the county fairgrounds, and organized a weekend long display of the wall. The event included military honors, several speeches, volunteers to help visitors, handicapped accessibility, 24-hour security, and food service for all the volunteers.

This was a wonderfully successful event with an estimated 10,000 visitors paying tribute to our veterans, their service to our country, and the loss and sacrifice so many have endured.

Following the successful Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wal event, the same committee led by Rick, embarked on a permanent monument dedicated to all service members known to any Greene Countian by a remarkable granite and concrete memorial in a park setting. This is a more that 125,000 project. Rick’s vision and passion for veterans is reflected in the quality of this monument.

Rick also spearheaded numerous events at the VFW; Christmas in July, he rang the Salvation Army Bell and dressed as an elf, he helped organize the Veterans Day parade, numerous times, and was always quick to organize an event to honor a veteran who had turned 100 or to celebrate a military anniversary.

Rick was selfless and always gave his time and energy toward veteran programs, services, and recognition ceremonies. He had big ideas and his enthusiasm pushed others to fill in the details. He was a visionary who was excellent at garnering support both financial and individuals to help with the projects.

Rick was a servant leader with a heart of gold. From his military service during the Vietnam War to his continued support of the veterans and their families, Rick exemplified service before self. He will be missed.

Brian Tennant was a lifelong resident of Greene County and public servant. Following his 2001 graduation from Waynesburg Central High School, he joined the Waynesburg/Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company earning Firefighter I, Firefighter II, and Vehicle Rescue Technician certifications.

Brian broadened his public service efforts earning an AMT certification and began employment at EMS Southwest, the local ambulance service where he worked for several years.

During his time there, he received several awards including; The Pennsylvania Fireman’s Association, Earl Dundore Humanitarian Serice Award, the Western Pennsylvania Fireman’s Association Award for Valor, and Award and Medal for Meritorious Service and Lifesaving from Waynesburg Borough, and a Citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for his courageous actions during a house fire while on duty as a Police Officer.

Shortly thereafter in 2010, he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Following extensive treatment and recovery, Brian successfully ran for public office becoming the youngest sheriff in Pennsylvania in 2013 at the age of 30. As the first Greene County Sheriff to graduate from the National Sheriff’s Institute, Brian had many notable accomplishments during his first term. In addition to the solicitation and receiving of thousands of dollars for the improvement of the Sheriff’s Office he greatly expanded community outreach efforts and presence. There was also significant expansion of the Sheriff’s Office through the addition of security forces, broadening access to gun permits, “drug take-back drives”, and Internship Program with Waynesburg University Criminal Justice Department, and county-wide initiatives for Institution of the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program into all five school districts within Greene County.

Tennant won re-election in 2017 and led the Sheriff’s Office to assist the limited law enforcement resources within the county facilitating joint training and efforts among agencies.

Mr. Tennant was a Paul Harris Dellow and help memberships in many organizations including; Rotary Club of Waynesburg, First Baptist Church, the Free ad Accepted Masons Lodge #153, the NRA, Firearm Owners Against Crime, Pennsylvania Narcotics Office Association, Nort American Police Work Dog Association, Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Association, and The Pennsylvania Society.

He was a supporter of many local programs including the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. He participated in fund raising efforts in addition to sharing his personal experiences as a cancer patient and public servant with others. Mr. Tennant is survived by his wife, Jessica and four sons.

Glenn William Gensler, “Bill”, was a life-long resident of Greene County.  Bill began his service to others at an early age: shoveling snow in the winter, mowing lawns in the summer, delivering daily newspapers and assisting his mother in the care of his grandparents.

Bill was a Waynesburg Central High School graduate.  Following high school, Bill earned an Accounting degree from Robert Morris University, and subsequently an Elementary Education degree from Waynesburg College,

Bill student taught at Amity School where he met his wife of 45 years, Joy.  Bill then began his teaching career at Whiteley School in Greene County.  He then transitioned to East Ward Elementary School in Waynesburg Borough.  In Bill’s twenty-five years of teaching in the Central Greene School District, he had a positive impact on the lives of many children.  During his career, he bestowed his generosity to many children and their families that were in need.

Bill was a faithful and humble servant of God.  He was a life-long member of the First United Methodist Church of Waynesburg, where he served on the Board of Trustees and as the Sunday School Treasurer for nearly thirty years.

Bill was also a dedicated member of the Waynesburg Lions Club, where he actively participated within the community.  He enjoyed events such as the annual Halloween Parade, 4th of July celebration and driving a local queen or honoree in his antique Nash in the Christmas Parade.

Most importantly, Bill adored and was devoted to his family.  Bill has a strong bond with his mother, and cared for her through her years.  He was a loving husband, father and grandfather.  If you had the privilege of running into Bill out and about, you would hear how proud he was of his daughter Ann and his granddaughters Madeline and Emily.  He never met at stranger, and enjoyed telling stories.

John Paul McCracken was born on April 14, 1957 in Columbus, Ohio. He was the son of the late Jack and Dolores McCracken.

Soon after his birth, he and his parents moved to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania where he spent the rest of his life.

John graduated from Waynesburg Central High School in 1976 and thereafter attended Salem University in West Virginia where he studied Education. Upon his return from Salem, John began his career at McCracken Pharmacy where the community came to know him in his steadfast role of Delivery Man. John worked at McCracken Pharmacy for over 30 years until his unexpected death.

John was a member of Whiteley Creek Community Church, and a member of Waynesburg Lodge F and AM 153 and Valley of Uniontown.  He was also a member of the Isaac Walton League of America, and a member of the Independent Order of OddFellows where he served a full term as Noble Grand.  An avid fan of the Three Stooges, Penn State and the Pittsburgh Pirates, John enjoyed bowling and driving his Mustang convertible.

Surviving are his two brothers, Jeff (Helen) of Waynesburg and Jay (Anne) of Bluffton, Ohio and his four nieces: Elissa, Lindsay, Katie and Molly.

John died at the age of 56 on August 23, 2013 in his home. We will always remember him as the beloved longtime McCracken Pharmacy Delivery Man.