The winners have been announced …
Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce Man and Woman of the Year — Marc Marchesseault and Sherry Hodnett — have been on board with hometown pride all year long.
The two, along with Hero of the Year, were recognized Tuesday at the annual Chamber banquet.
Marchesseault not only made his contributions while serving at Webb Air Force Base, but returned to Big Spring after his military career and continued giving to the community.
“I never met a person so adept at hiding civic accomplishments,” a nomination letter said about Marchesseault.
He served as a pilot instructor at Webb AFB and was part of the last fly-out class in 1977. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1990.
“During his Webb AFB tour as a pilot instructor, he participated in a refugee relocation effort, sponsoring and arranging for 19 refugees to come to Big Spring,” said Russ McEwen, 2010 Man of the Year. “He took a personal interest in finding them housing, medical care and employment.”
While he was away from Big Spring he remained in contact. Nine years ago, he decided to return. Now, not only does his military career make Webb AFB a large part of his history, his involvement with Hangar 25 Air Museum continues that legacy.
“He has worked diligently to encourage us to recognize our past, appreciate our present and look forward to the future of this Howard County area,” McEwen said.
He served as an influence Hangar 25's development, served on the Webb Air Force Reunion committee, bringing hundreds of veterans back to Big Spring, and served as chairman of the Air Park Advisory Board. His contributions don't stop there though. He is also heavily involved in Big Spring Main Street, the hang gilding committee and citizens advisory panel. Through his talent as a photographer, he has been able to share his love for Big Spring through several gifts to the Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“He looks for and finds the beauty here,” McEwen said.
Hodnett, named Woman of the Year, has been making her mark on Big Spring through her numerous volunteer efforts and recruiting practices, as well as through her work at Home Hospice.
“She has the experience and the forms to fill out, especially with her involvement as past president and advisory board of RSVP, to get you enthused and signed up for good use of your time and talents,” said Verna Davis, last year's Woman of the Year.
Hodnett has been involved with Home Hospice for 20 years, working with volunteers. She has initiated a junior volunteer program and helped many families during a time of illness and dealing with death.
“It's not just the volunteers who have been affected by our Woman of the Year,” Davis said. “Her kindness and compassion have touched so many people … the hours she has spent with individuals and families bring tears of remembrance and joy for those with the stories to tell. She was there for so many people.”
She has also had a hand in Hangar 25, the Chamber of Commerce and served as a Red Coat ambassador. She also served as moderator of Presbyterian Women for the First Presbyterian Church and Tres Rios Presbytery.
“Her talents go far beyond organizing, leading and volunteering,” Davis said. “She has won many awards for her sewing, cooking and decorative painting. She is a very talented lady.
“Yes, our community is enriched by its volunteers, but even they need guidance and leadership. She has gifted us with amazing use of her talents, but as one nominator said in trying to describe the many layers of this person and still get across her warmth, caring and generosity, 'She is not a person easily captured with words.'”
During the banquet, Hero of the Year — an award which was added this year — went to all Big Spring and Howard County firefighters.
“I remember a night in June when those brave firefighters fought a valiant fight to protect homes and businesses for more than 24 hours on that fire,” said Terri Johansen, outgoing Chamber of Commerce president. “They risked their lives to save our homes and property and we will be eternally grateful.”
Guest speaker for the banquet was Charlie Johnson, a Big Spring High School graduate and former NFL player. After graduating from high school in 1956, he continued his education on a football scholarship at Schreiner Institute. His football career continued at New Mexico State University and included two consecutive Sun Bowl victories. His jersey number was the only number to ever be retired in more than 109 years from New Mexico Aggie football.