The 4-H program has a very special place in Wilbur Cordes’ heart. Though he never participated in 4-H as a kid, he became heavily involved as an adult. A 4-H leader for five years, he advocated the goodness of 4-H and helped all five of his children with their yearly 4-H projects. He has been recognized for his work with 4-H, receiving two awards of appreciation. Wilbur also took his Iowa spirit with him to Korea, where he was in the army and received a Purple Heart. Now he volunteers with the veterans’ medical van in his town and marches in the local parade. He has also traveled to Bluefields, Nicaragua with his church, where he did mission work for those in need. On top of all of his other commitments, Wilbur makes time to participate in many community organizations. He is involved with the school board, Amvet, American Legion, Lions Club and Butler County Beef Association.
Governor Robert Ray
Robert D. Ray is known to many Iowans as Governor Ray, or to some, just “Governor.” He served Iowa for 14 years, 1969-1983. Serving as a well-known governor is just the beginning for Governor Ray. CEO of two Iowa insurance companies, an educational leader at Drake University and the national Republican Party leader are also on his list of past experiences. After leaving his governorship, Ray also served as an interim mayor of Des Moines and as the President of Drake. Governor Ray helped improve this level of appreciation in many ways. The Character Counts In Iowa initiative is well-known throughout the state. He was instrumental in bringing this program to Iowa and expresses a great deal of pride in serving as chairman of the Character Counts In Iowa board. In 1979, 3500 refugees from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam relocated to Iowa. While acting as governor, Ray stood up for those refugees from Southeast Asia by helping them secure jobs and a place to live. He is also noted for helping raise over $500,000 for Iowa SHARES (Send Help to Aid Refugees and End Starvation).
Merlyn “Mert” Feddersen is heavily involved in his church, Trinity United Church of Christ. Volunteering with the men’s fellowship group, youth group and governing board, Mert is not afraid to do anything the church needs. Multiple times he was found waxing the hallway and fellowship floors when the custodians were out or on vacation. Not only has Merlyn earned awards from the Lion’s Club, he also received the Community Service Award and the Melvin Jones Fellow award for Dedicated Humanitarian Service. He served as the Mayor of Hartley for one term, and was a member of the United States Army from 1953-1955. Mert is involved with the Kiwanis Club, American Legion and also gives his time to the Hartley Emergency Ambulance and Rescue Team (HEART).
From Russia, Slovakia to Shenandoah, Iowa, Bob Norris is known for making a difference. Bob travels to Russia where he does mission work in orphanages. He then visits the Shenandoah Community School District to share his stories with the second graders. Spending time with the youth of Shenandoah is one of his passions, as he also spends time reading stories and discussing plot points with the second graders. One program requiring much thought and detail is The Sister City program. The Sister City program in Shenandoah began as just an idea in 1999. In 2004, visitors from Tisovec, Slovakia came to visit Shenandoah and Norris was one of the hosts. He also planned community events for the Slovakia residents and a meet and greet for the youth of Shenandoah. As part of the Sister City program, Norris even traveled to Slovakia himself to help foster a relationship that is mutually beneficial for both cities.
When Mitchellville’s local library needed some assistance, Joan Allsup was eager and willing to step up and make a difference in her community. Not only did she lead the summer reading program in 2012, she also raised over $3,500 to help with library programs. In 2011, Joan became Treasurer of the Library Board of Trustees, and in 2012 became Secretary. Though she was never employed by the Mitchellville Public Library, Joan Allsup put in countless hours of work, all to keep the library afloat. Joan’s passion for helping others does not stop when she leaves the library for the day. She and her husband have also turned their family farm into a kid-friendly place to play. Pumpkinville offers corn mazes for wandering, hay piles for jumping, and pumpkins for picking. The farm is available for visits daily and on weekends during the Fall. She is known around town as “Grandma Joan.”
Cecil Rueter is known around Grand Junction as the quiet volunteer. He is the guy that gets the job done without anyone knowing. He is also the “go-to” guy for community upkeep, providing the equipment and manpower for any and all tasks that need to be completed around town. Co-founder of Rueter and Zenor Implement dealership, Cecil has built his business from the ground up, and still works there today. What started as a small store in Grand Junction has turned into collection of stores in Iowa and neighboring states. None of which could have been done without Cecil’s hard work and determination. Cecil adds to conversations, and to the community, on a daily basis. He helps with 4-H, boy scouts, and church youth groups. He hosts a yearly golf outing for the Iowa State coaches and even helps out with the local gardening group, the Naked Ladies Garden club.
Under the leadership of Karen Spurgeon, Bloomfield County has improved tremendously. For 15 years, Karen was the president of the Davis County Fine Arts Council (DCFAC), and while she was president, the town renovated the Iowa Theater in the Bloomfield Historic Square. Because of her strength as a DCFAC leader, Karen was asked to be a founding member of Bloomfield Main Street in 1995. As a member of Bloomfield Main street Spurgeon has written numerous grant applications for the organization—among them an application for funding for the Bloomfield Square’s Christmas lighting display and another for the banners displayed in downtown Bloomfield—“Bloomfield, Worth Your Time!” A former Main Street president, she continues to serve as secretary and Image Committee chairperson for the organization.
Don Hinners is the true definition of an Iowan. He served in the Army, works on a farm and is an active member in his church. In 1975, Don was on a committee that helped create the Halbur University Scholarship Fund. Now he spends his free time cleaning up local parks and raising money for the Iowa Beef Industry. To help make Iowa a better place, Don spends time with the youth and elders of Carroll. He is involved with 4-H by showing cattle with his grandkids at the county and state Fairs as well as serving as a county director and 4-H leader. Along with the youth, Don also enjoys working with elders by visiting the St. Anthony Nursing Home in Carroll, Iowa several times a month, and even taking the workers to his farm during harvest season.
Devere Ganzer depicts what it truly means to be an Iowan. He was an active farmer for much of his life, farming in three different counties. Now, at 85, he is still working part-time for Big Gain in Elwood, IA and also participates in 4-H. Since 1963, Devere has been involved in county fairs as the announcer of tractor pulls. He has announced at the Scott County Fair, Miles Thresher Days, the Grand Mound Tractor Pull, Clinton County Fair, Dubuque County Fair and Jackson County Fair. Another passion of his is square dancing, and he stays active by square dancing and also playing volleyball. A volunteer on top of everything else, Devere spends time visiting with seniors at some of the Nursing Homes in Cedar Falls. He also helps community members by getting groceries and running errands for those who are unable to drive themselves.
Baker and volunteer extraordinaire, Marybeth Jaggard is highly involved in the town of Oelwein. In a typical day, one can find Marybeth in the kitchen, baking breads and cookie bars for local clubs and organizations. She can also be found volunteering her time with the local Girl Scouts troop, or singing in the church choir. On top of everything else, Marybeth finds time to act as a member of the Friends of the Library board and the Public Library Foundation board. One of Marybeth’s favorite retirement activities is gardening. A master gardener, she is the president of the Fayette County Master Gardeners. She is also a nature center volunteer at Fontana Park. Not only is Marybeth an outstanding Iowan through her volunteer work, she has also made history. In 1949 she became the first woman to receive an advanced degree from Iowa in Pharmacy. She received her degree from the University of Iowa.