Though the band requested everyone to relax as the soothing sounds of saxophone, bass and all that jazz washed over them, there were still a few in the crowd at the edge of their seats waiting for the announcements that would come later.
Themed “Chamber Jazz,” the Duncan Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Thursday night at the Simmons Center was all about recognizing those in the community who have taken their talents to make unique improvements to the city.
Two of the biggest awards of the night were Man of the Year and Woman of the Year. These two distinctions are given to individuals who contribute to civic life of Duncan and who, with their leadership, are constantly in pursuit of an improved quality of life in Duncan.
This year’s Man of the Year was given to Russ Stewart. When not carrying out pastorship duties for Stephens County Worship Center, this Duncan native has dedicated much of his time volunteering in some form or fashion for multiple organizations.
“This is amazing and an awesome blessing,” said Stewart. “It is a pleasure to receive this award.”
Marilyn Hugon was named the 2013 Woman of the Year, who has been an influential force for a number of Duncan entities. From Duncan Regional Hospital’s board of directors to committees at First United Methodist Church to the McCasland Foundation, Hugon has proven a great love for her community.
“My father raised me to give back to the community,” Hugon said. “I felt that God was leading me to help make Southwestern Oklahoma, the Duncan area especially, a better place for the future.”
The first winner of the Al Hinshaw Community Spirit Award since it being renamed for a man who showed extreme compassion for the Duncan community and its residents was Gina Flesher. Being a volunteer is second nature for Flesher, who has been involved in many aspects of the community for several years, 2012 being a particularly active year.
“I’m honored,” said Flesher. “I knew Al Hinshaw from forever ago and I miss him everyday.”
Man of the Year for 2013 was Russ Stewart; Woman of the Year was Marilyn Hugon; Community Improvement Award winner was Edward Jones - Kelsey Avants; Free Enterprise Award winner was Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar; Al Hinshaw Community Spirit Award winner was Gina Flesher; Ambassador of the Year was Susan Nutt; and Rookie Ambassador of the Year was Tera Mathis.