Warmth that comes from the heart
After a few days of sunshine and moderating temperatures, a cold front blustered through the area Tuesday morning, scattering snow in its train and plunging the mercury into the teens.
Inside the Edwardsville Community Center on Tuesday night, however, it was oddly warm. The warmth was the sort, though, that came from something other than BTUs. It came from the heart.
The occasion was the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner and it culminated with Community Service Awards bestowed on two well-liked and respected citizens: Harold "Woody" Berry of Edwardsville and Edna Kloepper of Bonner Springs.
Berry is a longtime resident of Edwardsville and a member of the city planning commission who previously served on that body, the City Council and finally as mayor. (One of his cited accomplishments as mayor was to complete the grant application that resulted in the construction of the community center.)
He is also a charter member of the Edwardsville Kiwanis Club and a member of the Vaughn-Trent Community Services executive board. He also serves on the Vestry Board at St. Martin Episcopal Church. Sadly, ill health prevented his attending the dinner Tuesday to accept the award, which was given to his wife, Elaine.
Edna Kloepper, the Bonner Springs honoree, plans to celebrate her 90th birthday in March. She received bachelor's master's and specialist degrees from Pittsburg State University and Kansas University, and taught in the local schools for 40 years before retiring in 1983, and since that time has volunteered at her church and given financial and moral support to local civic clubs, Vaughn-Trent Community Services, the Bonner Springs Senior Center, Bonner Springs Elementary School and many other local worthies. She also was a longtime member of the Bonner Springs Business and Professional Women's Club.
But it was as a teacher that she was best known. Chamber president Mike Clouse recalled his time as a first-grade student in her classroom. Several others in the room indicated they had been among her 600 pupils as well.
The worth of any community is not just in structure or infrastructure. Tangible assets like buildings and roads and bridges and sewers and water treatment plants are all important, of course, but without people they're just so many rocks. It is the people of a community that give it its true worth, for without them all the structures and infrastructure are meaningless.
As long as Bonner Springs and Edwardsville can continue to nourish people with civic minds and sense of purpose like Woody Berry and Edna Kloepper, we'll do well enough.