BOTKINS — “Wow! Am I ever humbled.”
Those were the first words Doug Barhorst, of Sidney, spoke after being named the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s 27th Zenith Award winner Tuesday night during the annual dinner and awards banquet at the Palazzo.
Barhorst, who just retired from his business Air Handling Equipment, asked those present “How’s an old guy from Newport” receiving an award like this?
He shared his experiences when attending air compressor conventions and he talked about the Shelby County community.
“When Wilson Health was looking to build a new birthing center, Emerson stepped up and the center was built,” said Barhorst. “When we needed a new football stadium, the community raised $2 million.
“Everyone wanted to know what the hell kind of town is this?” said Barhorst.
It’s a community, he said, where the United Way is in the 90 percent per capita in giving in the nation.
“What a great county this is,” said Barhorst. “It’s an honor to serve the county and the city during my three different careers.”
He said in 1970 he joined Sidney City Schools as a coach and teacher.
“I embraced being a part of the All American City,” said Barhorst. “We are so fortunate to have Tawawa Park, Custenborder Field and Amos Library. I knew this was where I wanted to be and I’m glad I’m here.”
The award winner was introduced by his friend, Ken Schlater, of Sidney, who shared four things his father told him that people in the Shelby County community do every day: cheat, swear, lie and steal.
“They ‘cheat’ from their spare time or free time every day — just a few minutes to gain all the knowledge they can,” said Schlater. “They never quit learning — the glory of god is intelligence.
“They ‘swear’ to do the best job they can and to the best of their ability,” said Schlater. “A great work ethic and that is the people of Shelby County.
“The ‘lie’ down every night and think how fortunate they are to live where they live,” he said. “The ‘steal’ a little time every day … a little time for prayer of thanksgiving.”
The county’s volunteers are why the Chamber, the YMCA, the hospital, the United Way, the Community foundation and the schools are successful, said Schlater.
“Our community has been blessed to have people willing to offer their time, treasure and talent to continue to build and enhance these services,” Schlater said. “Let me give you an example. I have known this individual for close to 50 years. Keep in mind that’s all the older I am.”
The individual was born in Shelby County and is a product of the county school system, he said.
Some of the highlights of the life of the 2016 Zenith Award winner, include:
• Was a teacher at Northwood Middle School for seven years.
• Was principal at Russia School.
• Left education in 1979 and entered the business world.
• Purchased his own business — Air Handling Equipment — in 1989 and retired from the business in December 2016.
• Served the school as a member of various levy campaigns.
• Was on the interview committee for the past two superintendents of schools for Sidney City Schools.
• Played an integral role and worked hand-in-hand with Judge Donald Luce in the campaign for the restoration of the Monumental building.
• Is a 37-year member of the Sidney Kiwanis.
• Was interim director of the YMCA when it started in 1970.
• Served on the S&H Products Board for six years and has been an investment committee member for 17 years.
• Served on the Wilson Health Board of Trustees for nine years and the Wilson foundation Board for nine years.
• Served on the United Way board from 1983 to 1985 and in 2002 was the large manufacturing campaign chair.
• Serves his church — Holy Angels — were he has been a lector for 40 years, a member of the finance committee for 10 year and answered the call of the church whenever he has been asked.
• Serves as the Board vice chairman at Mutual Federal where he has been a board member since 1988.
• Was a founding member in 2013 of the Shelby County workforce Partnership and is still a board member today.”this organization is of utmost importance to him as he has been invaluable with his knowledge of both business and education,” said Schlater. “I know that he feels he has an opportunity here to expose the youth of our county to the many incredible career opportunities that are right here in Shelby County.
“Oh and in his spare time,” Schlater continued, “he established the Sidney High School Baseball Booster Club.”
Barhorst also, said Schlater,
• Was an active member of Vespa.
• Since 9/11 has donated over 3 gallons of blood.
• Served on the Sidney Memorial Stadium campaign committee.
• Chaired the Lehman Acme Baseball Committee for 22 years.
• Served on the Lehman Athletic Boosters for 12 years.
“I know this person to be a man of great faith, humble in his success,” said Schlater. “He’s thankful to God for his many blessings; A man who has never met a stranger, always willing to ‘pay it forward.’
“One whose passion and enthusiasm for life is contagious,” he continued. “As Sharon Maurice stated in her letter of recommendation, ‘His participation in the community is not for selfish notions, but rather genuine love of the people and the place we all call work, home and family, and his desire for all of us to live the best life possible.’”
Schlater also introduced Barhorst’s family to the audience, which he called Barhorst’s “most coveted treasure:” wife, Sara, eldest son, Kurt and wife, Connie, and his three grandsons, Brandon, Drew and J.D.; his middle son, Brad and his wife, Stephany, along with grandsons, Spencer and Tyler, and his youngest son, “and probably his best one and my God son,” Scott, his wife Teresa, along with grandson, Michael, granddaughter Amanda and great-grandson, Jack. Teresa and Michael weren’t present as Michael was playing in a basketball game.
Schlater concluded his comments by presenting the Zenith Award to “my friend, a man who cheats, swears, lies and steals everyday.”
“I can say, I didn’t steal the All American sign in 1964, which went up in Newport,” said Barhorst. “But I know who did!”
After the presentation, Barhorst said he knew something was up when Schlater said the person had been a teacher at Northwood.
“I thought, I taught at Northwood,’” said Barhorst. “I never expected to get something like this. It was very humbling to hear all the stuff (Ken read). What a honor this is. The Zenith Award says it all. I’m grateful to work in a community where we can come together like this.”
Barhorst’s wife, Sara, said it was extremely difficult keeping the award a secret for three months.
“The kids and family all knew,” she said. The couple resides in Florida during the winter. Once a month for two days Barhorst flies back for the Mutual Federal board meetings.
“I don’t come with him so I had to think of an excuse to come home,” said Mrs. Barhorst.
Her excuse to come to Sidney? A doctor’s appointment.
“I knew he would be so humbled by the award,” she said. “I think he did great up there talking. What he said tonight about the county is what he says to everyone he meets.”
Son Kurt and his family live in Sidney, she said. One son and his family lives in Florence, Kentucky, and the other son and his family lives in Cleveland.
“They all came home tonight for the award,” said Mrs. Barhorst. “And they’ll be going back home tonight. I can’t believe they’re all here.”
Mrs. Barhorst said she and her husband flew to Ohio on Monday and will be going back to Florida Wednesday, a quick 48 hour trip during which time her husband was honored by the Chamber and the Shelby County community.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.