The 65th annual Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce awards and program was held last Thursday, February 4. Lew’s at the Pleasanton Country Club Banquet room provided the backdrop for the event with a dinner of chicken breast, rice, vegetables and bread pudding served to the packed room of 150.
Dr. Matthew Mann, Pleasanton ISD Superintendent, presented an update to the crowd of the various construction bond projects that are happening around the district.
The photographs of work in progress as well as renderings brought enthusiastic applause from attendees. Dr. Mann left the attendees with what he said was his most important messagee – “These are buildings – and we’re glad to have them … and they’re good facilities, but they’re filled with people. And these people are children, teachers and our support staff – and they are amazing.” He then asked for everyone to take time to thank them all. “It’s a real pleasure to be a part of such a momentous occasion in Pleasanton history – it’s good for the community, it’s good for the people and best of all, it’s good for our future,” said Dr. Mann.
After Mann’s presentation, nine awards were given to 10 deserving people.
The winners and their nomination biographies follow.
Pleasanton Lions Club Man of the Year Tobin Hill
Tobin “Toby” Hill was born November 29, 1958 in San Antonio. He went to school in San Antonio and graduated from Marshall High School in May, 1977 He went on to school in Austin where he met his wife Sara. He began his career in insurance where he started working as a life and health Insurance specialist at GIC Insurance in San Antonio. He and Sara married on May 17, 1986 and have three boys Preston, Wade and Adam.
He and Sara decided in 1994 that they wanted to raise their children in a rural setting, so he began working at Ricks Insurance Agency. In July 1995, the family moved to their current home here in Pleasanton. Preston, Wade and Adam have since graduated from Pleasanton High School and went on to Texas A&M where they have become proud members of the Corps of Cadets. Preston and Wade both graduated from Texas A&M and Adam is currently a sophomore.
He has been very active since moving to Pleasanton Texas. He has been a member of the First Baptist Church of Pleasanton. He has been on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors where he served as president and been on the music team for the Taste of Atascosa. He has also been a part of the Cowboy Breakfast Team for Cowboy Homecoming for many years. He currently serves as a Rotarian for the Pleasanton Rotary club and is a past president. He’s volunteered his time on the PHS Football and Baseball Booster Clubs, serving as the president and treasurer. He has been a Little League baseball Ccoach, been on the Little League Board, and served as games committee Atascosa Ag Fair Cook Team for PHS Project Graduation. He has volunteered his time on the Pleasanton Independent School District Selection committee, been a Community Advisor for the CPOC committee, been the campaign treasurer for David Soward and is a recipient of the City of Pleasanton Appreciation for Contributions to Library/ Civic Center. He is also a proud Cowboy Homecoming Chicken Team Roping Champion with Frog Adams.
Pleasanton Rotary Club Woman of the Year Aubrey Smith
The 2015 Outstanding Woman of the Year Aubrey Smith was born on October 21, 1976. She grew up in Pleasanton and graduated from Pleasanton High School in 1995. She has had a strong work ethic since high school, working three jobs while serving as the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Cowboy Homecoming Queen and was a Colonel on the Pleasanton High School Drill Team. She began working for HEB in 1993 and represented the San Antonio area for two years at the checker/bagger competition and won checker of the year.
After graduating high school, she went on to Palo Alto College where she received an Associates degree in Business. She continued working for HEB throughout college and quickly worked her way up through various positions. She met her husband, Jason Smith, in 2006 and has 3 children, Avery, Adyson and Ryder.
In 2007, she returned to Pleasanton as the HEB store director. She won the Young Citizen of the Year award in 2009 and has volunteered on the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, serving as Vice President as well as Co-Chair for the Cowboy Homecoming. She has been a part of the Leadership Development Program with HEB helping develop future HEB leaders. She was also heavily involved with the expansion of the new HEB store in Pleasanton. She has participated in numerous local programs including the ACCEPT program, been a buyer at the Atascosa County Junior Livestock Sale, supported the Cowboy Homecoming, as well as the Taste of Atascosa.
STRMC Senior Circle Senior Citizen Man of the Year Craig Dowdy
The Senior Citizen Man of the Year was born October 30, 1949, in San Antonio, Texas. Craig Dowdy moved to Pleasanton in early 1950 when his family bought a farm in the Verdi area. He has been active in the community his entire life. As a boy he helped out in his family’s store in Pleasanton, where he would later spend most of his life serving his family and community. While in high school he played football, was active in the band, serving as president and was on the May Fete court. After graduating from Pleasanton High School in 1967, he served in the Air Force Reserves and attended college at Southwest Texas State University graduating in 1972.
He has been active in many organizations in the community over the last 45 years. He has been a member of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and served 2 terms on the board of directors. He chaired the dance gate committee for several years, and as a member of the Pleasanton Jaycees in the 1970’s helped organize the first Cowboy Homecoming Rodeo.
He was “arrested and locked up” and raised bail money as a fund raiser for the Muscular Dystrophy association. Other organizations he has supported include the Atascosa Bass Club, the NRA, The American Legion and the Coastal Conservation Association.
He has been an avid supporter of the youth in the community by supporting many different organizations. He was a buyer every year at the Atascosa Junior Livestock Show and served that organization on the auction committee. He worked as a supporter of the Boy Scouts, by helping fundraise for the 4 Rivers District. He was a reading mentor at the Pleasanton Elementary School. He trained many area young people in the area of sales and customer service by having students work in his store through career co-op programs at Pleasanton High School.
He has supported the Daughters of the American Revolution by helping his wife operate the funnel cake booth at the Strawberry Festival grounds for the past 13 years.
He has supported the American Cancer Society by participating in the Atascosa County Relay for Life every year since it started in 2005.
During his 40 plus year as owner operator of Dowdy’s Mens and Boys Wear, he supported countless organizations through donations of gift certificates and items for charity auctions, raffles and school functions.
Over the last 40 years, Craig has been an active member of the Pleasanton Rotary Club. He has served that club in every capacity including president and board member. He has never been a member to just go to the meetings on Thursday and eat lunch. He has probably cooked more spaghetti for spaghetti dinners, boiled more shrimp for golf tournament meals and sold more Cow Patty Bingo tickets than anyone in town. He has spent his life living the Rotary Club’s motto, “service above self.”
He has been a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of Pleasanton and has always strived to implement his Christian values in every facet of his life. He has served his church on the Pulpit committee, a Royal Ambassador leader, the United We Build committee, and chaired the budget committee. He continues to lead a Men’s Bible Study and has portrayed the role of Isaiah in the Christmas Village for the last 15 years.
He has been honored in the past by being named Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Young Citizen in 1980, Business Person in 1990, Man of the Year in 1998, in 2000, he and his wife were named couple of the year, and in 2003 received the Community Builder Award from the Masonic Lodge.
He has been married to the former Mary Koehl for 45 years, and they have 4 daughters and 4 sons in law, Sarah and Robby Evans, Meredith and Guy Rutherford, Ruth and Curt Conroy and Rebecca and Brandon McCluskey. Craig is “Pops” to many including 15 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.
He recently retired from Kinsel Ford of Pleasanton, where he was a salesman for the past 5 years. He is looking forward to spending more time fishing and traveling when he is not attending games or performances of his grandchildren.
Xi Omega Iota Chapter of Beta Sigma Xi Sorority Senior Citizen Woman of the Year Judy Havins
Born and raised in a small town in the 1940s, the Senior Citizen Woman of the Year came into the world a happy, smiling person. She was the apple of her daddy’s eye until he passed away when she was only 13 years old. That is when her big heart started to develop. She took care of herself and mom from that point on.
She met and married the man of her dreams in 1964. Again, her big open heart was there to help raise his son as her own. Then she continued to grow her heart with the birth of 2 daughters. They all made their way to Pleasanton in 1970.
From that point on she strived to make this a better community. It started with her membership in the Woman’s Club and leader of the Methodist Senior Youth Circle Group. She continued her outreach with membership in the Chamber of Commerce through her real estate office. In fact, she has seen or sold most of the houses in Pleasanton. In her real estate office – buying, selling and counseling were everyday occurrences.
After selling the businesses she and her husband decided to move and travel the world in a trailer. Once the world had been conquered they moved back to Pleasanton in 2006. This put them much closer to their children and six grandchildren, which she loves supporting in all of their activities.
She became an active voice in the Civic Center project. She is an integral part of the First United Methodist Church and its many outreach programs, these include President of the United Methodist Women and instilling a program to feed the youth of the church on Wednesday nights which has been very successful.
She sings in the church choir and once a month with a group at the nursing homes. Participation in the Bountiful Basket Program and the Annual Methodist Ladies Luncheon is one of many of her contributions.
This big-hearted person with the most contagious smile and laugh is Judy Havins.
Pleasanton Young Farmers Young Citizen of the Year Megan Martin
Megan Shearrer Martin is a current resident of Pleasanton with her husband, James and 10-month-old son, JW. She returned to home area after graduating valedictorian of her high school class and attending the University of Texas. From 2004-2005 she served as State FFA Vice President representing Area X, which includes the Pleasanton FFA. Upon graduation from the College of Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy program, she was awarded with the 2010 College of Pharmacy Alumni Association Mortar and Pestle Award for leadership, service, patient care and research and was elected as vice president of the graduating class. In 2011, she accepted a clinical pharmacist position with South Texas Regional Medical Center in Jourdanton where she is still employed and serving the community through medication use evaluations and health and wellness projects.
She is a member of the Pleasanton Young Farmers, volunteering with the annual Cowboy of the Year Open Rodeo and Festival and other events throughout the year.Proceeds from the event benefit Pleasanton FFA and 4-H students with livestock and ag mechanic projects and college scholarships.
She is treasurer of the Triple L Booster Club, which raises money to support the Mesquite and Leming/ Verdi 4-H stock show projects and volunteers at the Atascosa County Livestock Show, assisting with managing the auction bid sheets for the Pleasanton 4-H and FFA clubs.
She is a member of the St. Andrew’s Catholic Church ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) community and served on the 2014 women’s retreat and was also a speaker. Megan also plays the piano and organ for local weddings and funerals.
Pleasanton Athletic Booster Club Teenager of the Year Caitlyn Korus
Your 2015 Teenager of the Year is a senior at Pleasanton High School. Throughout her high school career she has been involved in many organizations and held many offices. She has been in FFA since the 8th grade and participated on various teams over the year, some were even state qualifying, in addition to showing pigs and rabbits. In FFA she was also given the chance to run for office and was elected Winter Garden District Treasurer, Chapter Treasurer and Chapter Reporter.
She has been a member of Business Professionals of America (BPA) for 3 years and served as Treasurer for 2 years. She qualified at BPA state 2 years in Job Interview.
As a member of the National Honor society for 3 years she has participated in multiple fundraisers over the years.
She is a member of the Leo’s Club and is currently the vice-president. This organization has opened many community service opportunities throughout the Pleasanton area.
She has been a part of 4-H for 9 years. She was a member of the Leming/ Verdi club and is a current member of the Mesquite club and in this time she has been on multiple teams and held several officer titles.
She has volunteered with the Pleasanton Young Farmers events and participated with the Atascosa Soil and Water Conservation.
She is an active member of St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Loire.
She plans to attend Schreiner University in the fall and pursue a bachelors degree in pre-nursing and biology in hopes of becoming an Emergency Room Nurse.
Woman’s Club Couple of the Year Travis and Linda Hall
The 2015 Couple of the year have lived in Atascosa County most of their adult lives. They have been happily married for over 45 years and are proud parents of a son and daughter-in-law. Travis is a graduate of Pleasanton High School and was a DJ locally while in school. He joined the Navy out of high school and served his country for four years. He returned home and worked for the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Department and then joined the Texas Department of Public Safety where he served the community as a Patrol Officer and Public Service Spokesman. He often volunteered to help the community understand safety laws and even helped teach parents how to install Child Safety Seats. He retired after many years and yet again worked for the Atascosa Sheriff’s Department – before he retired for good. He currently serves his community as councilman of District 6.
Linda graduated from Floresville High School and the University of Texas at San Antonio as a Registered Nurse. She worked in hospitals for a number of years, but then found the career she loved as a school nurse at Poteet schools helping children and their parents. Today she is still fondly remembered by her students.
They are members of St. Luke-Loire Catholic Church and play music and lead the choir at some of the masses, as well as funerals and weddings. He has had a love for music since his KBOP days and she carried on her parents love for music.
They are both members of the Pastoral Council, where he serves as president. She is president of Altar Society and they work faithfully for the church and church activities. They are the first to volunteer for any project and are always willing to assist anyone that needs help. They have served on boards of various charity organizations in the community. They are passionate about helping the elderly and help with their errands and getting them to and from doctor appointments. They make a point to visit those in nursing homes and those that are home bound. Just as they are passionate about the elderly, they are also passionate about youth and help with their time and resources where needed to make the youth of our community successful.
Your 2016 Couple of the Year come from two terrific families in our community. They are devoted parents, much loved by their families (especially their nieces and nephews), and are proud Godparents and sponsors to many. They find great joy celebrating important times in family member’s lives.
Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year Eileen Horwedel
The 2015 Business Person of the Year is a Pleasanton native and oldest of six children. She started out as quite a tomboy.Even then she believed in working hard for herself and others.
In 1989 she moved back to Pleasanton. She and her daughter had experienced working in retail and they often had engaged one another with imaginative talk of running their own store.
In 2010 the opportunity arose to purchase the former Sisters Boutique & Gifts. In 2011, she opened Three Sisters Boutique in the hope of providing a positive shopping experience for everyone. Many long nights and weekends were spent in making this dream come true. With the help of friends and family, this mother/daughter endeavor became a much dreamed about reality.
She gains a lot of satisfaction from helping the community – whether it’s sponsoring Little League or donating to various causes or participating in local events for charity.
She strives to maintain an environment in which every person who enters feels welcome and comfortable. She employs seven ladies who add to the feeling she tries so hard to bring to this community.
This person is Eileen Horwedel, daughter of Mary Ann Richter and the late Raymond Richter. She is married to Larry and mother to Amy.
Being in business in Pleasanton gives her satisfaction that knowing her hard work pays off daily in some way. She is compassionate about her work. It has been said that just stopping by to visit with her and her employees is a regular occurrence for some. Which I am sure makes her happy. She is a very deserving Business Person of the Year.
Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce (In Memory of Dr. David R. Cardwell) Teacher of the Year Robert Leonhardt
Presenter Sandy Coward started off the presentation with a quote from Oh, the Places You’ll Go, written by Dr. Seuss:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places
You’re off and away!”
But before we go too far, we should take a look back at where this man has been….
He was born in Toledo, Ohio. He graduated from Ferndale High School and the following year, he joined the Marine Corp. He was in the Marines for six years. While in the Marines, he earned the following commendations:M 16 Expert Badge, Marksmanship Badge, Overseas Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment with 1 star, Meritorious Unit Citation with 1 star.
And he is currently a member of the Poteet VFW.
Dr. Seuss also says, “And you are the guy who will decide where to go”. Soooo…..
He graduated from Texas A&M Corpus Christi (Gig ‘em! Whoop!) where he became a teacher. (He wasn’t born here, but he got to Texas as quick as he could.) He taught initially at Pleasanton Jr. Hi., where he met his loving and extremely supportive wife, and later he taught at Pleasanton High School. He earned his Master’s in Administration. Currently, he is the Associate Principal at the PIC of the District and Pleasanton Jr. High. One of his additional responsibilities is the coordination of UIL at PIC and Jr. High. And he is also the voice (the announcer) of PHS Varsity Football, Varsity Volleyball, Varsity Basketball (girls and boys) and Varsity Baseball. He spends time with students in a variety of settings, aside from the day to day academics .
He is a teacher of teachers. He remains level and calm. He works with a variety of personalities, in sometimes unusually stressful situations, to make the best decisions for each student. To paraphrase Christa McAuliffe, “He teaches, He touches the future.”
He is very active as a member of St. Andrews Catholic Church. There, he is a Lector and is on the core ACTS Team, which is responsible for the organization of the men’s, women’s, and teens’ spiritual retreats. That means fund raising, organizing and directing the retreats. What a great role model for young adults!
Family is his #1
Priority! He has three children, Riley who is twenty-seven; Russell, who is almost sixteen; and Ryan, who is fourteen. His daughter is out of school and working in the Costuming Department at Disney in Florida. His boys are in school and active in extracurricular activities. He supports them both, in their academics and outside activities. They have extended family who are widely scattered over the US, but they make the extra effort to stay connected to them. They remain close even though there are many miles separating them from their siblings. His decision making process always begins with the question, “What is the best thing for my family?”
For fun, he is working towards earning his black belt. He also enjoys spending time in the outdoors, where he loves to fish. And he is a Detroit Lions fan. Well, I didn’t say he was perfect!
Over the years, I have heard him described as……
“A wonderful son!” by his mother. He moved his mother south, so that he and his family would be able to provide for her care and safety.
“The most incredible neighbor, ever!” by a neighbor who received much needed support.
“An awesome teacher” A former student presented him with a letter, a flag from his first tour in Iraq, his Navy Achievement Medal and some sand from Iwo Jima. I would like to quote from that letter:
“ I wanted to take this time out to thank you for your service to this country. Little would you know, but back in Jr. High. when you came in to take over for our teacher that you would make a big impact on a young kid’s life. I didn’t think in a million years that I would ever get the chance to say Thank You. You see, even though I was what I called “a problem child” in the class, I listened to your stories about your service. I saw the pride you had when you would talk about it. Since that time I looked up to you and wanted to be great when I become of age to join the service. I day dreamed about what I would do when I got to the places I would go, and the people I could possibly meet. That was all because of you and you may not have known it, but you put me on that path. It not only made me who I am today, but has also paved the way for my children’s upbringing.”
And a teacher shared the following at an awards ceremony:
“I wish I could take all the credit for changing the life of this young lady, but I can’t. Before she came to me she met a teacher at the Jr. High. who showed her compassion and the light. In a paper written for an assignment, this young lady expressed how much he meant to her and how he was responsible for her wanting to change. He did this by just listening to her and not putting up with the attitude she was giving him. At PHS, she would once again be a student in his class. She would call him her ‘Guardian Angel’. He would listen to her when she needed to talk and give advice when she needed it. “
In closing I would like to share a message from Loren Eisley that I believe best describes him:
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The youth replied “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.
Then, smiling at the man, he said,“I made a difference for that one.” -Loren Eisley