Citizen of the Year 2016 – Barb O’Kane
The Outstanding Citizen Award is sponsored by the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce and was established in the memory of Chuck Yahn, a Boscobel businessman, church, school, and community booster.
This community has many devoted people who give endless hours in community service year after year. It is an honor to receive this nomination. Once a name is received, the nominee will remain eligible for the next three years.
Each year, Boscobel area residents submit nominations for this award. We are honored to have so many people dedicated to our community. We acknowledge their devotion, service, and support to the Boscobel area and its people. This year’s nominees are Sharon Halverson, Eric Swan and Bill and Nancy Ewoldt.
This year’s award recipient is a mother, grandmother, business owner, and community activist. She has been a successful business owner since 1989; going out of her way to help customers, clients, and organizations of all kinds. No job is too big or too small for her to tackle. When two young students who had formed a band brought their designs to her to make band T-shirts for them to sell, she didn’t brush them off as just kids. This outstanding citizen took them very seriously and got their shirts done according to their wishes. She made a lasting impression on those two boys.
She has faithfully made shirts and trophies for the 4th of July Firecracker Run for many years. Last year at the “Run”, it was discovered that they were missing one award trophy. She scurried down to her shop and before the race was over, she had a trophy made; always goes that “extra mile” to ensure that things are done on time and with excellence.
She started the youth bowling program in Boscobel over 35 years ago and since that time has been at the bowling alley every Saturday morning from September through March every year. Now that’s dedication! Also, she has often helped families who could not afford the fees for their child to participate in bowling. In addition, she is president of the Youth Bowling League and accompanies students to the State tournament every year.
She has served as president of the Women’s Bowling League and has been a member of a Boscobel bowling team herself for 45-50 years.
She is an avid promoter of Boscobel Schools and their athletic/music/academic programs. Not only does she make many of the shirts, trophies, and plaques for the schools, but if she finds out from a coach or teacher that a family cannot afford an item for their child, she has been known to cover the costs for that student. This has also been true for the summer recreation programs.
When Briar Brown, a Boscobel student, passed away, she helped organize the fund raising effort to make sure hundreds of students (and adults) had T-shirts to honor Briar’s memory and to help his family.
Barb implemented the Girl Scout program in Boscobel back in 1972 and was an active leader and kept the program going strong for many years.
She donated scarves, hats, mittens and heavy socks to the Boscobel Skating Rink so that the children stay warm while they skate. Barb sees the best in people, and is especially attentive to those less fortunate. She is the type of person who is always thinking of others before herself. Recently, she discovered that there was a girl at Boscobel High School who was suffering from a brain tumor. When she found out that a new bike was on that girl’s wish list, she managed, with the help of others, to make her dream come true!
She was instrumental in coordinating the Head Start Program (1968), which met in the basement of the library building.
She doesn’t expect her employees, students, fellow committee members, friends or family members to do anything she herself wouldn’t do. Even though she has had some recent health concerns, that didn’t stop her from spending hours at the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored “Festival of Trees” event. She wanted to make sure that Boscobel students had the opportunity to view all of the lovely trees.
It doesn’t matter where you see her, she has a smile on her face and a positive attitude.
As much as she is involved in the community, she is the most proud of her family. She has always been an advocate for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandson. She is their biggest fan and sometimes helps as their coach.
On behalf of the Boscobel area community and the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce, it is our privilege to present the 2016 Outstanding Citizen Award to Barb O’Kane.