Union resident Ken Rohrbach was honored for his service to the community with the 2017 Long Haul Service Award Thursday evening at the city park pavilion.
“This event gives us the opportunity not only to recognize the newest member of this elite group, but to reminisce with those who have paved the way as past recipients,” said Steve Weinhold, Chamber president, adding that the men and women who have earned the award have contributed to making the community the beautiful hometown it is today.
Rohrbach served as the director, branch coordinator, assistant library director and then as the director of Scenic Regional Library, a career that spanned 40 years.
In 1975 he was named assistant director/branch coordinator. He took over as head of the library system in 2008 and served for three years before he retired.
During that time, he also served the community through the Union Kiwanis Club and Zion United Church of Christ.
“One of the inspiring characteristics of these folks is not only that they work hard today, but they do it with an eye on the future. They are visionaries and understand how their contributions and their actions influence the future.”
The Long Haul Award is presented by the Union Area Chamber of Commerce to a citizen in the Union area age 65 or older who has served the community throughout his or her life.
Nominees are recognized for past contributions to the betterment of the community through church, service organizations, and general service to others.
The at the 38th annual Union Area Chamber Long Haul Award was presented by the 2016 recipient Bruce Templer.
“Take a minute to look at your program. The people on this list are people who, through their service, have made this community a better place to live,” Templer said. “The 2017 winner is no exception to this list — both professionally and through leadership in church and civic organizations. This person has given and continues to give many volunteer hours each week.”
Rohrbach said he was humbled to be on the list with those who have earned the award before him.
“I believe there are a few surprised people out there, and I’m probably the most surprised,” Rohrbach said. “I’m surprised, a little shocked and really kind of embarrassed, because as I look around, I can see a lot of people who are involved in a lot of things and deserve recognition certainly more than I do.”
Rohrbach said that with every organization he’s been involved with, there have been smart, talented and dedicated people who help get things done.
“It seems like it’s easy to do community service here because you’ve got a lot of people always willing to pitch in.”
Rohrbach is a member of Zion United Church of Christ, where he has served on their council for several terms.
More recently, at Zion, he has been involved with the undertaking of the fall rummage sale.
He has served on the board of directors of the Union Kiwanis Club for many years, including several terms as secretary.
Rohrbach has earned the Kiwanis organization’s highest award, the George F. Hixson Fellowship Award.
He also chairs the scholarship committee, volunteers for the monthly student recognition program at Beaufort Elementary, and helps plan and administer the annual youth bowling social for more than 100 children and their parents.
He works multiple shifts at the Franklin County Fair in the Kiwanis Club’s barbecue stand.
He currently serves on the of the board of directors of the Wildcat Foodpack program, which provides weekend meals for more than 200 students in the Union R-XI School District each week.
“But he doesn’t just sit on the board; he is very active. He helped to achieve the 501(c)(3) status. He helps unload the groceries, and is there to make sure the items are shelved so that it is easy for the packers who have four different menus to pack and can do so with ease,” Templer said. Each Thursday, he helps deliver the tubs of food to the schools for Friday distribution.
He and his wife Carol volunteer at the Union Food Pantry, shelving food and helping with building maintenance. They volunteer with the committees that serve free community dinners at First Presbyterian Church.
The couple were active in the Union Band Boosters when their daughter, Audra, was in high school.
For two terms, Rohrbach served on the University of Missouri Franklin County Extension Council.
Rohrbach received the Kiwanian Legion of Honor in 2005 and was voted the Kiwanian of the Year for 2008-09.
He also has served on the Citizens Advisory Board for the Franklin County Family Planning Clinic, an organization that provides women with some health care exams. The clinic provides services on a sliding scale based on income.
In 2010, Rohrbach received the 2009 Union Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award.