A Distinguished Citizen

By Joseph Slacian

Doug Adams joined an elite club on Thursday night, Oct. 8.

Adams, who has been involved in numerous local and state organizations, was named the 2020 Distinguished Citizen, the 77th person to receive the annual award. His presentation highlighted the Grow Wabash County annual dinner and meeting.

In addition, Halderman Farm Management and Real Estate Services was named the 2020 Business of the Year, and North Manchester resident Jim Smith was named Grow Wabash County’s Volunteer of the Year for 2020.

Adams was introduced by 2019 Distinguished Citizen Bill Barrows, who dropped hints throughout his talk to the identity of the winner.

Barrows noted that throughout life, individuals have people who have helped mold their lives.

“In fact,” he said, “Our Distinguished Citizen for this year also was a mentor to me as a teen and young adult through example and actions.

“This is a person that has led life the way that we all profess we should. From serving the community to helping people in need, our deserving recipient has been there for many of us over the years to lend a hand.”

Adams, Barrows continued, has never met a stranger.

“It doesn’t matter where you may be or where you are from, this person finds common ground and befriends all,” Barrows said. “According to a relative, ‘even when you are in the middle of nowhere, there are friends to seek out and talk to.’  Even in the wilderness, where there are millions of acres to explore, interacting with people is a must, even where people could easily get lost and perish … He just loves talking to people, even when portaging in rough territory with loaded pack and canoe in tow.”

A Wabash High School graduate, Adams “married the girl of his dreams,” Barrows said. “They raised three children here in Wabash. He likes to play golf, especially on Father’s Day, and if I’m not mistaken, he played nine holes this afternoon.”

He then listed many of the organizations Adams is involved with.

A Wabash City Council member, Adams recipient retired from Diehl Machines, has served on the Wabash City School Board as well as the Park Board. He also is a Past State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus, the Gibault Board of Directors and started the Knights of Columbus Christmas Tree Haul here in Wabash County.

He is heavily involved in The Special Olympics, The Access, FISH and the Founders Day Committee.

“But other than family, his passion is driving around town in his roadster and his vintage red truck that is affectionately named Ms. Cheryl,” Barrows said. “That name was emblazoned on his high school senior cords as well as the truck. 

“That was also the name of his lovely wife, who unfortunately is no longer with us but I’m sure is watching all of this unfold tonight.”

Adams, who was surprised at receiving the honor, was joined by his family members on the stage of the Ford Theater.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I appreciate it very much. I guess the cool thing about my life is the family. My wife, Cheryl, and spending my life in Wabash with a bunch of volunteer people.

“I’ve done some volunteer work, but there’s a bunch of volunteers out there who spent an amazing amount of time … serving us every day.”

Halderman Farm Management President Howard Halderman accepted the award on behalf of the business and his family.

The business is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and today manages 650 farms across 19 states and two countries.

“On behalf of the Halderman companies and our family, I just want to thank you for this honor,” Halderman said. “We look it at being a blessing that we are part of Wabash County and a blessing that we are receiving this tonight.”

He noted that Thursday’s dinner was one the first large scale events in the county since the Salute to Agriculture dinner in

March, and that it was good to be able to have such an event.

“Wabash is home,” he said. “Wabash is our headquarters. And, Wabash is a great community.”

He said because of business he gets to travel around parts of the Midwest on a regular basis.

“I see a lot of county seats,” he said. “I see a lot of small towns like Wabash. Almost none have what we have, as a vibrant downtown, and the cultural experiences and the opportunities we offer. Almost no other community offers that.

“In addition, our community comes together on most initiatives. We come together whether it be growth opportunities, whether it be innovations, whether it be some way we can make life better here, we come together on those initiatives.”

Before concluding his remarks, Halderman showed a brief video looking at their company and all it offers.

Grow Wabash County President and CEO Keith Gillenwater, in introducing Smith, called him “a friend who has shown themselves to be one of the most reliable individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to have worked with.”

He said shortly after arriving in Wabash County, Smith and the late Chris Garber sat down with him at breakfast “and brought me up to speed on everything there was North Manchester, while they laid out their vision for where they would like to see the community headed.”

Since then, Gillenwater said, they have worked to make that vision a reality.

“Our volunteer of the year is one of those guys that we all know we need in our lives,” he continued. “You know when you call on them for advice, a favor, or just to chat, you know they’re going to answer each and every time.”

Posted on 2020 Oct 13