Hard work started for Louise Unkrich during World War II as she was a true ‘Rosie the Riveter’. Since then, Louise has been volunteering her time as a member of the T.T.T. Society, the American Legion Auxiliary, her local PTA and her church for over 60 years. However in her community, she is known for something much bigger. Louise has brought her Swedish heritage to Swedesburg, Iowa. Louise founded the Swedish Heritage Society and Swedish Museum 25 years ago and is still the director. Because of her hard work, over 100,000 local, national and international tourists have visited the museum. In addition, Louise chaired the famous Swedesburg Smorgasbord for 28 years and raised thousands of dollars for Iowa charities and world relief. Her nominator, Jess Settles said, “Louise is a role model of community service, work ethic and character. She is loved by many.” Louise is well deserving of the Iowan of the Day award because her endless years of service and leadership have helped make Iowa a unique place to live.
Robert Smith has been described by others as giving selflessly for his family, his community and his country. Bob’s service started many years ago when he earned a Purple Heart after World War II. Bob continues to do as much as he can to improve his community and Iowa. Bob has recently spent countless hours assisting with flooding problems in Fremont County. He is a member of the Southern Loess Hills Welcome Center Board of Directors, Fremont County Economic Development, County Conservation Board, Rural Fire Protection Board and the Southwest Iowa Growers Association. Bob has also served on the Tabor Fire Department, the school board and the public library board. Bob has been part of the Fremont County Soil and Water Conservation District for over 20 years. With his passion for the environment, he founded Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, a multi-county organization working on conservation and economic development. In his nomination, Senator Hubert Houser, said “Bob not only attends, he contributes and participates wholeheartedly in everything he undertakes whether it is helping a neighbor with flood damage or serving in the military. Robert Smith is the type of person others aspire to be.”
Pauline Flamme started her list of volunteer activities back in 1946 when she created Gladbrook’s first 4-H club. She has continued her fair involvement for the past ten years by acting as a 4-H Leader and an entry judge at the Iowa State Fair. Pauline has also been a member of the Alpha Study Club, Gladbrook Women’s Club and the United Methodist Women. For the past 32 years she has been active with the Gladbrook Gals and Guys club; an organization that does community service throughout Gladbrook. Pauline can be found picking up trash along the highway, planting flowers on Main Street or donating funds to different organizations in her area. Pauline also has dedicated many years volunteering with the youth in her community by being a Girl Scout leader and directing the Tama County Fashion Review. In her nomination, Barbara Strohbehn, community member and nominator said, “Even though Pauline Flamme is 81, that hasn’t slowed her down from brightening her community. She has been volunteering in Gladbrook for over 50 years!” Pauline’s contributions to her community make her a well deserving Iowan of the Day.
Julie Beitelspacher is a proud member of the LeMars community and goes above and beyond to make it a wonderful place to live. She is active in the LeMars Chamber of Commerce, president of the Rotary Club, treasurer of the LeMars Alumni Association, board member of United Way and treasurer of the Education Enhancement Program. Julie is also involved with her church, the Charity Circle group and enjoys delivering Meals on Wheels to the homebound in her community. Julie has a passion for youth and agriculture. She has been a member of the County Extension Council for 12 years and volunteers countless hours during the Plymouth County Fair. Julie has been a 4-H club leader, entry judge and even has her own radio show to interview the 4-H’ers during her county fair.
In her nomination, Kari Kopperrud, Julie’s daughter and nominator said, “She truly embodies the Iowa Spirit! Her work ethic, commitment to youth and community, and kind heart make her worthy of receiving recognition. She has helped to better her community in so many aspects and has touched the lives of people of all ages.” Julie is a well-deserving recipient of this award.
John Rains has a strong desire to serve others and is dedicated to his community and his country. He served the Iowa National Guard for 26 years. His work with recruiting and retention made the Iowa Guard one of the best trained and most prepared forces in the nation. For the past 14 years, John has participated in the Read Across America program and reads to children in the classroom. He has also spent time teaching kids about respect for the American flag. John is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for his church and has organized several cleaning days to maintain the facility. John is described by his nominators as always having a strong service to others. He demonstrates this by improving his own neighborhood by keeping up repairs and maintenance of properties along his street. John has also served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Johnston Lions Club. He has assisted with nearly all the community projects including: the annual book sale benefiting the Johnston Library, pancake breakfasts and selling several thousand dollars of advertising in the annual Johnston Sports Program. In his nomination, Lyle Kreps, community member and nominator said “Our Johnston community and our Johnston Lions Club have been greatly improved because of John Rains.”
Ruby Bentley is a key leader for the Macedonia community. She has been in charge of the American Red Cross Blood Drive for 30 years and volunteers nearly 1,500 hours each year. Ruby has served on both the County Tourism Board and the County Conservation Board. Ruby has also made a huge impact on the Macedonia Historical Preservation Society. She worked to develop the Macedonia Pioneer Tail Museum, the Stemple Bird Museum and the Macedonia Development Committee. Ruby has also helped plan the annual “Donia Day” celebration and the Nishnabotna River Race, two events that attract people to see her community. Ruby is involved with her church, the Macedonia Grist Mill Community Theater and is a member of a local service club. Macedonia community members often refer to Ruby as the “go to” person for helping raise money for projects, developing a new civic organization or to celebrate a historical event. James Sutton, community member and one of Ruby’s nominators said, “Ruby Bentley is one of those rare individuals who work to change things, but what may be even more powerful is her unconscious ability to inspire others to be more active for change and involvement. She is genuine, generous, motivated for improvement, and very hard working.”
Milton Menefee keeps himself busy by giving back to his community every day. He has done everything from mowing the lawn for the City of Denver’s Parks and Recreation program to volunteering at the Cedar Valley Food Bank. Milton has been an assistant coach for Little League baseball and softball teams. He has also helped the Denver Lions Club with events in the community. Milton has been active with the American Legion and volunteers with the Denver Community School and the Denver Public Library. Milton also volunteers each and every day with the residents at the Denver Sunset nursing home. He can be found volunteering at blood drives, churches, Goodwill Stores, the Salvation Army, the hospital and makes monetary donations to organizations or people in need. In his nomination, Kathy Enslin, community member and nominator said, “Even with all the money he has donated and time he has given; he is not someone who received a lot of awards. He very much deserves to be recognized for all that he does in our area.” When Denver has a need, Milton does what he can to help. This attitude makes him an excellent choice as Iowan of the Day.
David “Mickey” Thomas is a key leader for the Osceola Community. He is an active member of the Osceola Chamber of Commerce and has implemented new marketing ideas and service projects that benefit all of south central Iowa. He was in charge of the community’s major paving and sewer project as a member of the City Council. Mickey has also been a member of Lions International for over 50 years. Mickey has improved the city of Osceola by coordinating several organizations to raise money to build tennis courts, rebuild a dam to save Grade Lake, and create a hiking trail. Mickey has served on Osceola’s Independence Day celebration committee, one of southeast Iowa’s largest traditional events. Mickey takes pride in his community and voluntarily writes a weekly newspaper column to commemorate Osceola’s history and its residents. In his nomination, Osceola community member and neighbor, Mary Ellen Kimball said “Mickey Thomas is more than the usual business and community leader. His visionary ideas, relentless determination, and sincere interest in people have made him the go-to person when any individual, organization or cause needs direction, encouragement and support.”
Bill Forbes is a key leader for the Correctionville community. He has been a member and officer of the Correctionville Fire and Rescue department since 1981. It has been estimated that he has participated on over 1,000 ambulance and fire calls. Youth have always been important to Bill and he is committed to making academic improvements for the school system. Bill has served on the River Valley Booster Club and the River Valley School Betterment Committee. He has also been a Little League coach. Bill has served on multiple committees at his church for over 30 years. He takes pride in his community and has volunteered for the Chamber of Commerce to improve Correctionville. Recently Bill is spearheading the effort to build a new grocery store in his community. In his nomination, Charlene Warren, community member and nominator said, “Bill is a well respected, quiet man of integrity – willing to do the smallest of tasks as well as the largest to keep our small city a desirable place to live and work.”
Leo Chisholm is a proud member of the Osage community and goes above and beyond to make it a wonderful place to live. Leo started a food bank in Osage 26 years ago and has volunteered over 18,000 hours of his time purchasing food and stocking shelves. Since its creation, Leo has started a nonprofit organization for the food bank and has served over 22,000 people. Leo is a cancer survivor and a member of the American Cancer Society. He serves on the Advisory Counsel for the state of Iowa and gives advice and guidance to new cancer patients. Leo is actively involved with the Relay for Life Program and has raised $5,000 each year for the organization. Leo is the vice president of the Mitchell County Memorial Foundation and has helped raise money for hospital improvements. He is also active in his church and has been visiting homebound and shut-in individuals for the past 35 years. In his nomination, Cindy Ehrisman, Leo’s daughter and nominator said, “He’s an energetic man who doesn’t say no when asked to chair or help on any project. He touches the lives of many people each day.”