By Brenda Fike

Ledger Managing Editor

Chuck Rentschler, received the 2017 C.R. Stribling Jr. Community Service Award at the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and dinner auction on Friday. This is the top award presented during the evening.

Rentschler has lived in Mexico since 1963, and graduated from Mexico High School in 1972. He attended Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) and received a degree in business administration in 1976. After returning to Mexico he was employed by Pearl Motor Company and Citizens Savings and Loans before joining Show Me Credit Union.

He has volunteered and served on many boards since he returned to Mexico.

In 2013 he was named the Distinguished Alumni at Mexico High School. In 1993 he began the Coats for Warmth program at Show Me Credit Union, a program which continues to provide winter coasts for Mexico's needy residents. Rentschler has been a member of the MHS football chain gang since 1985, something he is proud of.

Steve and Deb Haag introduced Rentschler, with humorous stories about the honoree. After a few laughs at the expense of Rentschler, the duo became serious and talked about Rentschler's support for the community. "He is the biggest community supporter we have," they said. "Mexico, Missouri is a better place because of Chuck and we can all learn from his example," they said.

In his address to the crowd, Rentschler, thanked his parents, stating he was lucky to have two loving parents. He introduced his family, Anna, his wife, children, Jordan Foy, Whitney Lewis and Mitchell Rentschler. And his grandchildren Ella and Jackson Foy and Charleigh Lewis. He also introduced his sister, Teresa, his aunt Helen Maddox, other family members and his work family.

Rentschler began volunteering in 1976, when Harry Flynn invited him to a Jaycee meeting. "I went and it was fun," Rentschler said. He became involved with the Jaycees which led to his involvement with the Miss Missouri Pageant. He was director of the Miss Missouri Pageant from 1984 to 1986; and board member for 38 years.

Rentschler encouraged everyone to become a volunteer. "Volunteering can be life changing," he said.

He also talked about his hobbies, one in particular car races. "My dad took me to my first race when I was 6 years old at Cole County Speedway in Jefferson City. Those were the best times when dad would take me to the races," Rentschler stated.

Then it was on to one of his passions - the MHS football chain gang. He said he was the 1, 2, 3 or 4 box man. "I enjoy that a lot. We have the best crew in the state," he said.

In closing, Rentschler told everyone to be involved and make Mexico better than it already is now.

Winnie Stribling who was not scheduled to speak, came to the podium to give praises to Rentschler. Stribling is the widow of Charles Stribling III. She said everyone saw the lighthearted Rentschler, but she wished they could see him with her husband when he was ill. "Chuck would come and see Charlie for months, maybe for five minutes or 45 minutes. He had no connection, he was not a family member, he was just there," she said. "This man is giving of himself," she added.

The honors kept coming when Sen. Jeanie Riddle presented Rentschler a Proclamation from the Missouri Senate. She said it is people like Rentschler who makes Mexico a "True American City."

Mexico Mayor Miller announced that January 26, 2018 as Chuck Rentschler Day.

Other awards presented Friday night included the G. Andy Runge Ambassador Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that has brought great statewide or national credit tor publicity to the Mexico area. The recipient was Presser Performing Arts Center. Lois Brace, executive artistic director, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. "This is our Academy or Oscar award," she said.

The Civic Award, which recognizes exceptional effort or benefit conferred upon the Mexico community during the 12 months preceding the award, was presented to Arthur Center Community Health. Terry Mackey, President and CEO, accepted the award. When the Arthur Center was organization 15 years ago, Mackey said they were known as a paper organization. Today they help more than 5,000 people. "We have come a long way," he said.

The Philanthropic Achievement Award, presented in recognition of substantial and enduring contributions to the quality of life in Mexico and the surrounding community, was presented to James Gallop. "I was born and raised here and after being away for 70 years, I still have a soft spot for Mexico, Missouri," he said.

The Excellence in Tourism Award, given for marketing excellence to touring consumers and laudable services through volunteer efforts, was given to the Mexico Young Farmers. Accepting the award for the organization was Nick Deimeke. The truck and tractor pull is the big fundraiser presented by the Young Farmers organization. "Without the support from the business we could not do it," he said.

Educator of the Year was presented to Bryan Green, a third-grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary. Like the other recipients, Green said he was honored to receive the award. He encouraged everyone to come over and check out Hawthorne Elementary School. "There are some pretty amazing things going on over there," he added. Green said his high school teacher Jim Hutchinson inspired him to become a teacher.

The President's Award, selected by the Chamber President for 2017 Robby Miller, was given to Dan K. Erdel. Erdel began his speech with "I don't deserve this, but I have arthritis and don't deserve that either." On a more serious note, he said there were more people in the audience who deserved the award more than he did. He added that it takes leadership in a community and young leaders need to step up to the plate. "Encourage young people to get involved," Erdel said.

Before any of the awards were presented, Robby Miller, immediate past president, gave a recap of 2017. He told of all the accomplishments which took place throughout the year. "It has been an honor for me to serve as president," Miller stated.

Miller passed the gavel over Daniel Norman, the 2018 president. Norman said he looks forward to working with local businesses, schools, churches and others to ensure the growth of Mexico.

To round out the night a silent auction and called auction was held with Richard Henke serving as auctioneer for the called auction.