Culver Kiwanians laud Olivers, Lawson, CCHS students

Culver's Kiwanis Club gathered Thursday evening to fete local students, an outstanding area business, and an outstanding citizen from its own ranks, in addition to inducting new members Charlotte Hahn and Paul Liette.

At the Mystic Hills-based event, catered by Culver Coffee Company, Kiwanian Dick Swennumson introduced members of the Oliver family of Plymouth's Oliver Ford Lincoln-Mercury, recipients of special recognition by the Club, by noting the business "has helped our community for over seven decades."

Describing the Olivers as "an extraordinary family," Swennumson explained John Oliver I started the company in 1955.

"Their business model from day one has been helping and serving the community," continued Swennumson. "They know the more prosperous the community, the more successful the business is."

Swennumson said "Jack" (John III) Oliver has sponsored many Kiwanis events throughout the area.

"Every time we have asked the Olivers to step up and sponsor or support or help the children in our community, they have never failed us. We hear a lot about businesses that are vilified in the national press, but we recognize businesses that support the children in our community."

John Oliver III thanked the Club, adding his family is "humbled and honored to accept this. I also want to give a shout out to my dad and late grandfather. Without them, the principles would not have been possible. My grandfather said, 'At the end of the month, you pay your employees, you pay your bills, and if you have any money left, you support your community. They will support you in good and tough times. It's your honor and goal to fulfill that destiny.'"

Swennumson noted Oliver Ford has provided vehicles for this year's community-wide Kiwanis raffle, whose winner may choose from the vehicles displayed around the community, another Oliver vehicle, or $35,000 cash.

As is the case each year, several local students received scholarships at the event.

Barbara Winters, wife of Kiwanian Ralph Winters, introduced the recipient of the Barbara Winters Award for Outstanding Achievement, a scholarship she said her husband established for her as a gift at her retirement from teaching in 2003.

Winters bestowed the scholarship on graduating Culver Comm. High School senior Joe Krsek, son of Steve and Terry Krsek.

Krsek described his involvement in the school's football program, the Culver Youth Community Organization service group, and other endeavors. He said he will study mechanical or aerospace engineering at Purdue University this fall.

Winters added she has watched Krsek serve at Mass on Sundays.

"I'm very proud of you," she said.

Kiwanian Jim Weirick introduced the graduating CCHS senior recipients of the Club's scholarships, including Serena Hughes, daughter of Hobart and Janice Hughes, who said she plans to attend Lawrence Technical University to study architecture and construction management engineering.

Aspen Kitchell, daughter of Chuck and Julie Kitchell, will attend Purdue University this fall with an as-yet undecided major; and Kallee Miller, daughter of Deb and Larry Miller, is set to attend Ball State University and study education and psychology towards a Master's degree in counseling psychology.

Receiving the Club's Kiwanian of the Year award was 15-year member Latham Lawson.

Dick Brantingham noted Lawson is a Navy veteran of the Korean War and an educator. He said he became acquainted with Lawson through volunteering, noting Lawson is a former president, sergeant at arms, and chaplain of the Club who "does a little bit of everything, like setting up tables and chairs at our meetings." Brantingham also knows Lawson, he said, at Wesley United Methodist Church, where he's the men's club treasurer.

Accepting the award, Lawson said the club had 18 members when he became president.

"We decided we had some lofty goals to attain, and we spent a lot of effort in these last 15 years," Lawson added. "I could never imagine -- look at it today. Thank you for...your effort and all the work you put into it."

Kiwanis Arrowhead Division district governor Orville Perry inducted Rakich and Liette as new members of the Club, noting there are 230,000 Kiwanians worldwide and 7,000 in Indiana.

Perry also said Culver is currently leading the state in new members this year, with 10 members to date.

Club treasurer Weirick said the club has around $11,000 in the bank and $75,000 to $80,000 in a Marshall County Community Foundation fund whose earnings are used to underwrite club scholarships.

It was also noted the club's annual Peanut Day will take place June 23, bass fishing tournament June 16, golf tournament July 14 at Mystic Hills, and that the club will participate as volunteers in support of the Lake Max Triathlon August 11 (the club will be one of the local beneficiaries of the event, said coordinator for the club John Bartlett).