Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2018

Countryman, Hunerdosse honored

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Apr 13, 2018
Source: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photos Gloria Countryman and Ron Hunerdosse were named the Outstanding Citizens of the Year Thursday during the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet.

Gloria Countryman and Ron Hunerdosse were named Outstanding Citizens of the Year Thursday during Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet in the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

Last year’s recipients, Tammy Dunbar and Dawn Ridgeway Bechtel, delivered speeches detailing each recipient’s life accomplishments. Per custom, the winner’s identity is not revealed until the very end, but usually the lucky person has figured it out well before then.


The suspense builds

Bechtel was the first to go. She described someone who had retired from teaching 10 years ago after 35 years of service. The funny thing was that description fit more than one person in the audience. Bechtel was referring to Countryman, but Hunerdosse had taught for about that same length of time, and he wondered if Bechtel could be referring to him.

Bechtel went on to describe the recipient as someone who served on the Jefferson County Compensation Board, and who served on the board of the Fairfield Public Library Foundation from 2010-16. This person worked the front desk at the library for more than six years while they were teaching, and came back after retirement to volunteer.

“After I heard the part about teaching for 35 years and the work at the library, that really narrowed it down,” Countryman laughed. “Then I started thinking about what I was going to say.”

Bechtel wasn’t describing Hunerdosse after all, but there was much more drama in store for the longtime coach. It was Dunbar’s turn to read the accolades of the other Outstanding Citizen of the Year, someone who had donated many hours to The Lord’s Cupboard, especially during its Christmas box distribution, volunteered for several youth programs, worked the scorer’s table, and been a substitute bus driver.

“As soon as Tammy said ‘substitute bus driver,’ I dropped my head,” Hunerdosse said, knowing it could be no one else. “I looked up and saw Ronda Whitney and Sue Buch videotaping me.”

Hunerdosse suspected something was up even before the ceremony began. Hunerdosse was asked to attend the event to receive an award for the Trojan Honor Plaza, which recognizes FHS graduates, staff members, family and friends of the high school. He noticed Dan Breen in attendance. He thought perhaps Breen was there to support Hunerdosse receiving an award for the Trojan Honor Plaza. After all, the two are good friends. Hunerdosse gave a speech inducting Breen onto the Parsons Wall of Honor in 2016. It turned out Breen was there for another reason, too.


Gloria Countryman

Countryman said the thing she is most proud of is serving as president on the board of the Carnegie Historical Museum, where she has developed school tours and improved exhibits. Her teaching career is never far from her mind, either. She taught second grade for many years, and even had Bechtel as a student.

“A lot of the kids I taught are still here, and I’m so proud to see how they’ve turned out,” she said. “I like to think I had a small part in that. It’s special to have a former student like Dawn present the award. It makes me feel I did a good job.”

Countryman still is active in the Methodist church, where she is the administrative chair of the church council. She has served as staff on mission committees, chairwoman of the bazaar food booth, planned the Rose Breakfasts, provided children’s sermon for Heifer projects and children’s church.

“I like to do things in the background,” she said. “I don’t like a big hoopla. I don’t want to show off, just use the skills God has given me as a blessing.”

Bechtel noted that Countryman is a strong supporter of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, the IPTV Foundation Festival and a judge for the Dutch oven Cookoff. She is the sole person keeping the school house at the fairgrounds open during the county fair, and has organized projects for kids during the fair such as Ag in the Classroom and cake walks. Countryman led the charge in obtaining grants and donations for the new roof on the school house, allowing it to remain on the Historical Society List of Locations in Iowa.

Countryman is director of public relations and fundraising for the Druzilla F. Clark Educators Foundation, helping to distribute $30,000 to first-year teachers in the Fairfield and Cardinal school districts in 2017.

Countryman’s family includes husband Philip, son Aaron and his wife Alysia and their boys Chase, Channing and Cael; and daughter Sarah Renaud with husband Kurt and their son Alec.


Ron Hunerdosse

Hunerdosse said he has “no doubt” that Rich Stokes nominated him for the award. Like Countryman, he didn’t notice members of his family sneak into expo hall. His family includes wife Linda; daughter Kari with husband Graham and their daughter Collins; son Eric with wife Erica and their daughter Lena; and daughter Erin with husband Mike and their daughter Reese, and son Crew, who was born last week.

Hunerdosse joked during his acceptance speech that he was so busy teaching and coaching that his wife raised their children single-handedly, and he was just a donor.

Hunerdosse graduated from Parsons College. He taught in the Fairfield school district from 1972-2008, where he coached high school track for many years. He has tried to scale back his coaching duties in recent years. A few years ago, Fairfield activities director Jeff Courtright informed him the middle school needed a track coach. He told Courtright he should try to find someone else, but if he couldn’t, Hunerdosse was willing to do the job.

“That was a mistake,” Hunerdosse laughed.

Hunerdosse is serious about spending more time with his family, though, and especially his four grandkids.

“I want them to know me as a comedian,” he said.

Hunerdosse said he takes great pride in the Trojan Honor Plaza. The plaza began as a way to honor Jim Evans and Fred Behner, both longtime community leaders. Memorial benches in the plaza honoring Evans, FHS Class of 1963, and Behner, FHS Class of 1964.

“Honoring those guys was the single biggest task I’ve undertaken, and it’s ballooned into so much more,” he said.

One of the main sources of funds for the project has come from people purchasing bricks engraved with the names of loved ones who have a connection to FHS.

Hunerdosse said he wanted to ensure that the plaza itself was built only by FHS graduates.

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