Exchange Club's 'Deeds' award has long history
The year moves rapidly for the Rochester Exchange Club, with several community projects annually.
Now this service club is set to honor a very deserving individual. This person is always selected on the basis of unselfish, personal service, rather than their participation in organized community affairs.
It’s probably one of the best kept secrets in Rochester. It's a tribute to the type of person who has contributed much time and effort to a worthy cause without thinking of personal recognition.
Next Wednesday, the 56th annual "Book of Golden Deeds" award will be announced at the Rochester International Events Center. The program of recognition begins at 7 p.m., followed by a banquet and main speaker.
This year, former state Sen. Duane Benson from Lanesboro will give the main address. Benson served in the Minnesota Senate from 1981 until 1994. The 66-year-old Hamline University graduate was well-known in the American and National Football leagues as a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons.
During his high school years he played for Grand Meadow. Although he has served the state in other capacities, he and wife Melissa reside on their farm in Lanesboro.
When you step back and look at some of the Exchange Club’s accomplishments over the years, you’ll see evidence in our schools of the American flags and democracy. Just more than a year ago the club completed a huge Freedom Shrine close to the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. Visitors can walk through the shrine and read several patriotic documents dating back to the 13 colonies and the Declaration of Independence. At the Deeds banquet, you can be sure of the pledge of allegiance at the beginning.
When I look back into the many great names of recipients of this honor, I must highlight a few, many of whom were my friends and now they have passed on.
The most recent to die is Don Strelow, who was the honoree in 1986. The Rev. John W. Mettam, associated with the First Methodist Church here, received the award in 1959.
Newton Holland, a man famous for his restaurant, Holland’s Cafeteria, received the 1960 award. He was well known for pushing the new Rochester Art Center into "front and center" and for his planting trees.
Another recipient was police officer Ray Wagoner in 1963. The 1961 winner was Mrs. G.M. Elizabeth Lowry, known for many community projects and especially for starting the Ability Building Center in the basement of the old Samaritan Hospital in 1956.
In 1970, Amy Waugh received the Golden Deeds Award, having done so much for so many. I recall sitting on the Salvation Army board with her for several years in the 1980s.
Dr. A.B. Hayles, remembered for his work with the Rochester Art Center, received the award in 1979. Longtime Salvation Army board member and Olmsted County Fair Board member Evelyn Hunter was given the award in 1982.
Some of you recall a quiet man of the cloth, the Rev. Paul R. Davis, pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on East Center Street, who received the award in 1985.
Dave Malcomson, principal at Country Club Elementary School for many years, was given the honor in 1997. Those are a few of so many honorees who are gone but not forgotten. All names, living and dead, are recognized at next week’s program.
Past president Shelly Buryska is chairwoman of this year’s event. International Events Center owner Joe Powers is the 2010 recipient. Jan Durbahn, Exchange Club president, will preside and present the 2011 award.
Now, all is in readiness. The winner does not know. Only a handful of committee members keep this top secret and work feverishly to get the recipient to attend. They call it "Bouquets for the Living."
Next week: The Festival of Trees is coming during Thanksgiving week at Mayo Civic Center.