(Photo by Jill Bock, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- The three agreed they never expected to be honored for what they do, but the applause of the crowd attending the New Madrid Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet let them know their honors were well deserved.
Saturday evening, the Chamber presented its Community Service Awards to Bobby Blom and Johnny Davis. Mildred Henry received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
As she began her presentation to Blom, Monica May described the Community Service Award as an honor presented to those who go out of their way to do good in the community. May explained how Blom's grandfather began Ralph Anderson Lumber Co. in New Madrid, which was later headed by Blom's father. Blom began working at the lumber company at age 15 and today serves as the general manager and vice president, taking over leadership following his father's death.
After reading a long list of memberships and sponsorships, May added, Blom "has shown his commitment to his community" giving of his money and time. "He sets a good example for us all," she said as she presented the engraved plaque.
"I never thought about getting any kind of award," said Blom. "If somebody asks me if I can help, I do. This is an honor to receive this."
In presenting Davis with his award, Harry Gremore also had a long list of memberships and other activities the local pharmacist and businessman takes part in including 19 years of service on the New Madrid County R-1 School Board. "He has been a sponsor to just about every organization there is," added Gremore.
The employees at Davis' Pharmacy described working with the honoree like working with family, he said. "Now we want to thank him for being a member of our community family," said Gremore as he presented the plaque.
Davis described himself as lucky. "I grew up in the best of times in a good little town," he said. He praised his co-workers, friends and family members for their support. "This community has been behind me ever since I was a little boy," said Davis. "My only regret is it has gone by way too fast."
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to 88-year-old Mildred Henry by Marie Hunter who stated Henry "has lived a life few of us can envision, let alone survive."
Hunter explained that Henry was orphaned at age 3 and was raised by her grandparents. "She survived the flu epidemic, the Great Depression, floods and drought," added Hunter.
Henry and her husband, Whitson, farmed and raised six children on land near the Mississippi River. There, Hunter said, Henry served many people who passed through her life, feeding them and helping them when needed. Today she continues to help others with her cooking and sewing, said Hunter adding, "she has given her time, talents and love over the years."
Accepting the plaque, Henry insisted: "I'm not much for making speeches, but put me in the kitchen or give me a needle and thread and I know what to do. "I wasn't ever expecting anything for what I did over the years, I just do what I can do… ."
The Chamber also honored F.M. Baird and Robert Riley by naming them ex officio members of the board of directors and presenting them with lifetime memberships to the New Madrid Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to the presentations, Margaret Palmer, executive director of the Chamber, reported the city would have 18 stops by riverboats, the Delta Queen or the Mississippi Queen, during the coming year. The first stop is March 17.
Also Palmer noted that since Jan. 1, the Chamber became fully responsible for the community's tourism efforts. As part of this effort, the Chamber now can be reached on the World Wide Web at email@example.com.
One of the first big tourism efforts the Chamber will participate in is "Savor the Flavor," sponsored by the River Heritage Region on May 22 in Sikeston. The event is designed to introduce foreign tourism officials to the Bootheel.
Also the Chamber has begun planning for its annual Fourth of July celebration on the riverfront.
"We are going to be busier than ever this year," concluded Palmer.