Locals to be recognized at dinner
BREMEN — The Bremen Chamber of Commerce is holding its 11th annual Leadership Dinner and awards ceremony Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Bremen VFW Hall. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. and entertainment at 6:30 p.m. with Charlie Adams as emcee.
Lifetime Achievement awards honor local businesspersons that have dedicated their lives to building a strong business presence in Bremen. The Volunteer of the Year award and the Youth Service award are given to those that are making efforts to create an improvement to other people’s lives.
Those to be recognized this year include Lifetime Achievement Award winners: Joe Martin Sr., the late Greg Mishler, and the late Richard Rader; and Volunteer of the Year, Phil Reidenbach; and Youth Service Award winner LaurieAnne Wickens.
Joe Martin Sr.
Some people collect cars and others, like Joe Martin Sr., collect car lots. The 75-year-old said he’s enjoyed his retirement for the last 11 years but was for a time, knee-deep in car sales. Owner of Martin Chevrolet (in Bremen), he bought Bremen Ford and later Don Calhoun Chevrolet (in Plymouth) before acquiring Weeks Motors (in Plymouth). “We had all the domestic franchises,” Martin explained. “We started with the Chevrolet and then the Ford store. We then got the GM franchise and then became a Chrysler dealer.”
He explained that his father Ray was an International Harvester dealer in Bremen and that he worked for him initially in 1958. In 1965 Martin bought Roeder’s Chevrolet in Bremen. But even raising his children and running his businesses, Martin said he made time to volunteer for others.
He was active in the PTA, a member of the Bremen Jaycees and Bremen Lions Club, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the First United Church of Christ, and within these organizations he held various positions.
In all he said the things he’s been most proud of are the fine memories made and his earning and retaining the sure and strong support of his family and community.
“You don’t become successful in business without the support of your family and your community,” he said. “Bremen, like it claims, is a good town and the people in the town have always supported us well.”
His children grown up, they went their own ways, pursuing educations and life goals and eventually filtered back into the family business. Martin and his wife Nancy have been married for 56 years. They have four children; five grandchildren; a stepgrandchild; and two stepgreat-grandchildren.
Of hearing he was chosen as a community leader by the Bremen Chamber of Commerce Martin said, “I’m honored.”
“In small communities and large ones, you have to give back,” Martin explained. “As a business owner, the community gives to you and you need to give back and then you can make the whole thing work. It’s not a one-way street. You need to support others and they will support you.”
Born in Milford, Greg Mishler moved to Bremen after college in 1969 and purchased the Hubb Funeral Home. He and his wife (at the time) Brenda raised one son and ran a successful business that continues today. His work ethic, reputation and friendly demeanor has people talking about him years after his passing Jan. 21, 2003.
“I got a letter that he had been chosen,” explained his son, Sen. Ryan Mishler. “I was surprised because he was gone for nine years and had traveled the five years prior to that so I was grateful that people remembered him.”
But that surprise was short-lived as he remembered the affect his father had on those that knew him.
“As a business owner he contributed financially to different programs and was active with the United Way,” Sen. Mishler said of his father. “In 1982 he was elected into the Statehouse as state representative and though he had been working with that and his business he was still always trying to find ways to draw people to Bremen.”
Sen. Mishler said he knew his father had been successful at the Statehouse but hadn’t realized how revered he was by those that knew him.
“When I actually got there I was really amazed at all the things he had done,” he said. “He had been ‘out’ for 16 years before I came in and I was surprised by the number of people that came up to me and asked if I knew him and then told me what he did for them. One said he became a better person for knowing my dad. …He really touched a lot of people down there. And it wasn’t just the people he worked with, it was staff, everyone.”
The senator explained how a concierge at a hotel he stayed at noticed his name tag and asked if he knew him and then spoke highly of him.
“You always want to follow in your parents’ footsteps but that’s what made me even more proud — how he treated everyone he knew,” Sen. Mishler said.
Always “on the go” between Indianapolis and Bremen he still had time to treat others with respect, including his son.
“The other thing I learned from him was to keep family first. He would rush off from the Statehouse and drive for hours to watch my ball game and then drive back. Through his actions — even though I was an only child — he made me understand that I was his priority. He showed me, so he didn’t have to say it.”
Sen. Mishler took over the family business in 1999 (which have become three funeral homes as of today) and his father semi-retired. “He was always helping people,” he explained of his father. “At the funeral home that’s what he did and I think he viewed the political side of his life the same way — another way to help people.” Richard Rader
Born in Argos, Richard Rader raised his sons John and Dave in Bremen where he farmed, raising cattle, chicken, and pigs, as well as corn and soybeans. He was a family man (who later went on to know his 17 grandchildren). Rader was also a Christian that was affiliated with several area churches, choosing to live with no specific denomination.
“He was very conscientious about supporting his church and always strong in his faith,” explained John Rader. “During his lifetime he practiced the ways of his faith and was always willing to help others.”
In 1976 he financed Rader Equipment, the business he and his sons would run for more than 30 years.
“He enjoyed spending time at the store greeting and talking to people,” John said of his father. “He had a very good work ethic and loved to help other people. Even when he was semi-retired he always enjoyed talking to people, greeting them and helping them.”
Radar farmed until he was 89. His wife Thelma helped on the farm and also worked at Community Hospital of Bremen for more than a decade. Rader passed away in May of 2011 at 94. Phil Reidenbach
Selected as Volunteer of the Year, Phil Reidenbach has been credited by a former fellow Community Hospital of Bremen representative as being “instrumental to the creation of the Community Hospital of Bremen Foundation.”
“All those that had the pleasure of working with him, they know he was always giving of himself — a very generous man,” said Community Hospital of Bremen’s President and CEO Scott Graybill. “He was very active in the community and he always acted as a fine example to follow.”
Phil Reidenbach moved to Bremen in 1940, his senior year in high school, and returned with his bride Glennis Birkey after his education was completed. He was working as an aeronautical engineer at Bendix Corporation in South Bend when he was called into service for the Army Air Corps in 1942. After the war he returned to his wife, Bendix, and Bremen where the couple raised their three children and built the reputation that has him being honored by the Bremen Chamber of Commerce.
Reidenbach was a member of the Kiwanis Club for more than 50 years (and served roles within the organization) where he began several programs. He worked with the Bremen Public Library Board (and helped see the new building built) and as a Community Hospital of Bremen Foundation board member (and president for one year) — where he not only raised money through the hospital’s foundation but later became a hospital administrator.
He was also always involved with reaching out to others through his faith at both Grace United Methodist Church and Bremen United Methodist (and served many roles therein) and assisted with the Holy Walk and Historic Bremen.
In October of 2011 he and his bride moved to Conway, South Carolina.
“My most rewarding work was with the Bremen Community Hospital,” Reidenbach said. “I had so many good people to work with. The projects I was able to work on and help bring to fruition … knowing the benefits it brought to Bremen and the surrounding area ... gave me a big sense of accomplishment.”
He advises others to reach out and become involved at any opportunity.
“Whenever someone asks you to do something for the community, accept without reservation,” he said. “Beyond that, if you have a true desire to help or a good idea, you don’t have to wait to be asked. Just volunteer. Rewards from volunteering are two-fold — others benefit from your volunteer work and you’ll have a sense of satisfaction knowing that you have done something to help others.”
Eighteen-year-old senior at Bremen High School, LaurieAnne Wickens would seem to not have a lot of time to spare to give helping others. She is involved in golf, swimming, plays trumpet in the Emerald Alliance, is presently practicing for the fall play (“You Can’t Take it With You”) and is a member of the National Honor Society and is editor of her school newspaper. She works part-time at the local pool (in the summer), also attends St. Dominic’s Church and is involved in the youth group there, but somehow she made time (during her sophomore year) to act as co-founder of a charity club at her school. ACT (Awakened and Compassionate Teens) picks a global charity to benefit each year and this year she and her group are involved with Touch A Life, which helps to bring children in Ghana out of slavery.
“We help them get out of the slave trade and get them to go to school and we work to provide them with food and housing,” she explained.
Of the children she has helped she is most proud of the work she’s done with Invisible Children — a group that works to bring an end to the actions of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army which has been abducting, killing, maiming and displacing people in Africa.
“As far as receiving accolades, I’m most proud of my success in band,” Wickens said. “I’ve received the most awards from being involved in band, but as far as something being personally rewarding, I love the work with ACT because I feel I’m really making a difference in other people’s lives.”
She said she “thought it was pretty neat” to be selected for the Chamber honor as her brother Kristopher had in the past.
“Getting involved in any national or global charity it is the easiest way to impact people outside of the little ‘Bremen bubble’ that you get caught up in,” Wickens advised. “Get involved with different churches and their charity to help people in Bremen but you can also be helping people all across the world.”