WAUSEON. The Wauseon Chamber of Commerce, led by President Tim Sepesy, held their annual banquet honoring Wauseon’s Citizen of the Year and Educator of the Year on Thursday, December 5 at the Wauseon VFW. The evenings activities kicked off with a welcoming address and invocation from Executive Director Neil Toeppe, followed by dinner catered by AKA Design of Wauseon.
The evenings highlights began with a presentation for “2013 I Love Wauseon” recognition, honoring the Wauseon Homecoming Committee for their tireless year round work. Accepting the recognition for the Homecoming Committee this year was Jennifer Leininger. The Homecoming Committee members work year round holding fundraisers, conducting sales and raising funds in support of yearly events. Those interested in contacting the Homecoming Committee may visit their “Wauseon Homecoming” facebook page, where information on fundraising events and other future events are outlined.
According to the Chamber of Commerce website, the Educator of the Year Award honors an individual that has high ethical and professional standards. They give of themselves unselfishly to their school, students and community beyond normal duties and responsibilities. Steve Schneider was nominated for this year’s award by fellow educator, Colleen Stewart, also of Wauseon High School. This year’s 2013 honoree, Steve Schneider defines the qualities set forth for this award. Mr. Schneider has served the residents of Wauseon and Wauseon High School for 45 years as an upper level math teacher, with 34 years of coaching experience leading the Indian Wrestling program, along with 24 years in the football program. During his tenure, Steve was involved in almost every aspect of student life, providing guidance and leadership to over four generations of graduates, and influencing untold numbers of students who have gone on to become members of almost every profession. Mr. Schneider’s influence on the students who have passed through his classroom doors has helped Wauseon become a model community in Northwest Ohio. It was also noted that in 45 years at Wauseon High School, Steve missed only one prom, and that was to attend the wedding of a former student!
Steve Schneider is married to his wife Jessica and they have 2 children; Stephanie and Joseph. Steve’s plan for the future after retirement is to move on and become an instructor at Northwest State. According to Mr. Schneider, retirement from Wauseon High School will mark the end of a memorable 45 years, but as an educator, he plans on continuing to teach and enthusiastically looks forward to the next phase of his teaching career.
The final award presented at this year’s banquet was the “2013 Citizen of the Year” award. The Chamber of Commerce nomination form states that the Citizen of the Year award is based on four areas: community service, achievement in career area, contributions to professional organizations, and overall impact and influence in the community. The Chamber established that nominees for this award must currently live or work in Wauseon. The award is an effort by the Chamber to recognize those individuals who have worked for the benefit of Wauseon and its residents.
This year’s 2013 citizen of the Year Award went to former Mayor Jerry Matheny, whose lifelong service to the community has made a tremendous impact on the growth and development of Wauseon, and contributed to the sterling reputation Wauseon enjoys as a model community in Fulton County. Mr. Matheny served as Mayor from 1992 to 2004; however, his service took many forms throughout his life in the community. Jerry volunteered many years as a Sunday School Teacher, served for 10 years as a Scout Leader and also enjoyed 8 years as a Little League Coach, as well as serving as a member of the Wauseon Homecoming Committee. Additionally, Mayor Matheny was a council member of the Fulton County Senior Center and acted as an Ombudsman for the residents of the Fulton Manor Nursing Home. As Ombudsman, Jerry served as a liaison between residents and facility staff, as well as ensuring representation for residents within the Medicare and Medicaid systems as needed. One shining example of Mayor Matheny’s spirit of volunteerism and selflessness took place in 1992, when historic floods devastated east-central Iowa. Mayor Matheny, along with his wife Sandy spearheaded two trips to provide assistance and needed supplies to the victims dislocated from their homes and communities.
This year’s recipient, Mayor Matheny, was unable to attend the presentation due to illness, and was honorably represented by his oldest son Marc and his wife Sandy. In Marc’s address to the attendees of tonight’s ceremony, he spoke reverently of his father and how grateful Mayor Matheny was to receive such a special award from the community he cherishes and loves. Marc also noted how deeply his father cared for those who served under his administration, and noted with a smile how the Mayor would always personally sing his favorite song “Happy Birthday” to every member of his team, in every department throughout the city. Mayor Matheny’s wife Sandy also addressed the banquet and spoke of the love city employees had for the Mayor as well. As an illustration, Sandy recalled the inscription on the retirement plaque presented to the Mayor from the members of the Public Works Department which stated “We would follow you anywhere…We love you man!”
Mayor Jerry Matheny currently resides in Wauseon with his wife Sandy. Jerry and Sandy have three children, Marc, Scott, and Chris and are the proud grandparents of four grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
Residents interested in nominating individuals for next year’s awards may find nomination forms and other relevant information on the Chamber of Commerce website, www.wauseonchamber.com.