Emotions ran high at the Knight-Bergman Center Friday morning as the community of Warren honored and remembered a beloved member of the community.
Bonnie Boxell and her late husband Ronald "Big Ron" Boxell were honored as the 2012 Samuel Jones Pioneer Award recipients during a breakfast held at the Knight-Bergman Center on Friday, June 29.
"Their commitment and generosity to the community of Warren has left us all with a very high standard to follow," 2011 Pioneer Award honoree Cheryl DeWeese said, her voice faltering with emotion. "It is with grieving hearts and with a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid that we present the 2012 Samuel Jones Pioneer award to Big Ron and Bonnie Boxell."
The award was presented posthumously to Ron Boxell, who died on Aug. 3, 2011.
The Boxells actively supported a plethora of organizations in Warren, including the Boy Scouts, the fire department, the Salamonie Summer Festival, the Knight-Bergman Center, the town Warren, the Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce.
DeWeese fondly recounted memories of the couple's service to Warren, including their assistance when the town ran out of heating oil, Ron's service on the fire department, their aid when the Knight-Bergman Center was vandalized just days before the summer festival, and when they handed out 1,000 hot dogs at the fall fest.
"We all know Big Ron's heart wasn't very strong, but it never stopped him from doing what he loved to do most, and that was being an active citizen of the great town we call Warren," DeWeese said.
Bonnie Boxell tearfully received the award, along with a hug, from DeWeese.
"I wish he was here to receive this," Bonnie said.
Bonnie was also presented with a key to the city from town council President Julia Glessner and a commemorative photo blanket of her late husband from the Huntington County Sheriff's Department.
As the award winner, Boxell delivered the official proclamation proclaiming the start of the 2012 Salamonie Summer Festival of War
The Pioneer Award is presented every year to a someone from the Warren community who has demonstrated "tireless and unselfish contributions" of service. The award is named after Warren's founder Samuel Jones, who built the first cabin in 1833.
The fourth annual Community Service was also handed out at the event, presented this year to the Warren Alumni Committee. The committee coordinates the annual alumni dinner hosted at the Knight-Bergman Center, with attendance as high as 250.
"They have all carried out a great role in our community," award presenter David Daugherty said.
Jim Howell has served as the main organizer and master of ceremonies for the banquet for nearly 30 years.
Kelly Gray, coordinator of the Salamonie Summer Festival pageant, announced that she and co-coordinator Carly Brubaker will be retiring from organizing the event after this year.
"Thank you very much for supporting us," Gray told those at the breakfast. "We've had a great ride."
Gray coordinated the pageant for 16 years, and Brubaker has logged 13 years of service. Gray and Brubaker were both awarded plaques for their efforts over the years.
Miranda Bolinger and Caitlyn Stokley will take over the pageant reins next year.
Complete caption: Bonnie Boxell (left) tearfully receives a hug and the key to the town of Warren from Warrren Town Council President Julia Glessner at the annual Samuel Jones Pioneer Award Breakfast held Friday, June 29, at the Knight-Bergman Center. Boxell and her late husband, Ronald "Big Ron" Boxell, were honored as the recipients of the 2012 Pioneer Award.