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Minerva's service organizations recognized Denise Freeland as the 2017 Minerva Person of the Year and Carl Felger was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award April 26 at the Great Trail Tee House.
Rotarian and friend Marty Chapman introduced Freeland and long time acquaintance David Gotschall introduced Felger. Felger was given his award at The Arbors that morning.
Freeland grew up in Damascus, Maryland and graduated from West Virginia University with b.s. in journalism (1987), and a bachelor of arts in English.
She married her husband Tom in 1987. She worked for the West Virginia Continuing Legal Education in Morgantown while Tom finished his Ph.D. The couple then moved to State College, Pa. in 1991 where Tom did post-doctoral work at Penn State. Their first son Conor was born in 1992. Denise was working part time at a housing service agency.
The Freeland family then moved to Minerva in 1995 when Tom became a professor at Walsh University.
When son Duncan was born in 1996, Denise became a stay-at-home mom until 2005. Throughout this time though, she volunteered at M.I. Day Elementary from 1997-2008, served on strategic planning commission for school district in 1995-96. Part of that group started the Minerva Habitat for Humanity affiliate which became Tri-County Habitat, Greater Stark and Carroll Counties Habitat now part of East Central Ohio Habitat. She also coordinated a community play group through the Minerva United Methodist Church.
In 2005 she went to work part-time for The News Leader as reporter/photographer/copy editor, covered Minerva and Malvern Schools, business, Minerva Village Council, local news and wrote features.
In 2012 she became the Minerva Area Chamber of Commerce Director. She was a member of the 20/20 vision committee since its inception in 2010.
She has remained active in the Minerva United Methodist Church by being youth group co-leader from 2007-2015; trained and scheduling acolytes; past and current member of the Staff Parish Relations Committee; past member of East Ohio Conference Board of Camps and Retreats; past member of the Tuscarawas District Superintendency Committee; past member of handbell choir; softball team member through 2013.
Denise was also Minerva UMC Relay for Life team co-chair from the second year Minerva had a Relay until 2011; served on Minerva Public Library Board of Trustees from 2004-2011; a Stark County Park District Board of Trustee member since 2014, currently in my second term and serving as vice chair. She has also been a member of the Minerva Band Boosters from 2006-2015 where she served as secretary from 2007-2009; and is co-founder of the Brick Street Jazz Festival in 2011.
"I wouldn't be here without your confidence, affirmation or support," said Freeland to the audience. "I don't really have the personality type to do this job. All of you in the community are a part of why I am standing here." "
Denise then spoke on the importance of family. "My family is most important to me," she said. "My husband Tom is my emotional rock. He is at every event I plan, he is there from build up to tear down and never complains."
Freeland will serve as Grand Marshall at this year's Homecoming Parade.
Felger's family, including wife Ruth, formally accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"I knew Carl all my life," said presenter David Gotschall. "He has been a member of the Masonic Lodge for over 50 years and up until a couple years ago he was delivering meals for Minerva Community Meals. He was always helping those in need."
Felger was also recently honored with The Jenco Award by the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio which honors those who work to improve others lives and have outstanding service for others in the community. Felger donated the $1,000 cash reward to the food pantry.
"My dad never expected anything in return for the work he has done," said Edwin Felger. "He went above and beyond the call of duty to help enhance people's lives. I also would like to say a special thank-you to Louie Romano for nominating dad for the Jenco Award. Louie didn't have to do that but he did and we thank him."
Felger is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army. He is a past commander of the American Legion Post 357. He was also a member of the Officer Corps. According to Gotschall "Carl would go to every local military funeral and be a part of he honor guard."
Isabella Gambone provided the evening entertainment with her voice. Tom Freeland provided ambient dining music.
Past award recipients who attended included Dr. Robert Hines, William Palmer, William E. Pilati, Bradley J. Palmer, David Gotschall, Teresa Arrasmith, George Horvath, Patricia Miller, Martin Chapman, Virginia Birks, and Richard Rutledge.
Minerva Rotary President Vickie Grindstaff welcomed everyone and Brad Palmer served as master of ceremonies for the evening. The event was hosted by Minerva Rotary and was attended by the Community Association, Civic Club and Entre Nous Club.