For the first time ever, a Union couple — Armin and Norma Klemme — were recognized for their community service with the 2012 Long Haul Service Award.
The award has been given to an individual in the past, but this year it was presented to the longtime residents of Union.
The 2011 recipient, John Devine, presented the award Thursday during a Union Area Chamber of Commerce Long Haul Barbecue at the city park.
“What a beautiful and meaningful award,” said Norma Klemme. “I just can’t really believe it.”
The couple was lured to the barbecue under the guise that their daughter, Esther Schmidt, was to receive an award.
“We are singled out but so many of you here tonight deserve this,” Norma Klemme added.
Armin Klemme said they had help with their efforts in the community.
“Anything an individual or couple does is supported by many others,” he said.
In March, the couple received the first Members of the Year award from the Franklin County Service Providers.
The Klemmes were charter members of the Franklin County Service Providers.
Norma recently served as the grand marshal for the Union Homecoming parade.
They have served on many committees of Missouri-Mid South Conference of the United Church of Christ and were delegates to the national General Synod meeting of the UCC.
Both have worked with ecumenical groups including the Missouri Council of Churches, Church World Service, Church Women United and Neighbors United.
Armin Klemme was the first chairman of the Senior Housing Corporation and worked with the Jefferson City Parole Office to help women succeed when re-entering public life after prison. He also worked with the Lincoln University student program.
Armin and Norma Klemme are members of Zion United Church of Christ in Union. Armin Klemme is an ordained minister and has served four UCC churches in Missouri.
Norma Klemme personally collects and recycles numerous items from various places, and often picks up trash along sidewalks and streets.
The Klemmes chair two committees at Zion Church, sing in the chancel choir and meet weekly with the church prayer group. Armin is a Sunday school teacher.
He also has led a Bible study at Willow Brooke Assisted Living facility for 10 years.
They also visit nursing homes, are active with two adult groups at Zion and help serve welcome meals at the Presbyterian Church.
Norma Klemme taught elementary school for 18 years. She was active as a youth in 4-H and attended the national 4-H Congress in Chicago, Ill.
The Klemmes traveled with their church to work with Habitat for Humanity for six summers and helped begin the Franklin County affiliate. Norma Klemme has been on the Habitat for Humanity board for 10 years and served as secretary and on the church relations committee.
She also has established interdenominational womens events including the World Day of Prayer, May Freindship Day and Church Women United.
Norma also is invloved with Neighbors United — Undoing Racism,
Armin Klemme also has served on two Habitat committees and has been an active member of the Kiwanis Club in Jefferson City and Union for 32 years. He has been awarded the Hixson and Legion of Honor awards.
Norma Klemme was honored as an Outstanding Young Woman in Hermann, Valiant Woman of Church Women United and Honored Laywoman in the UCC.
The couple volunteers with the Union Food Pantry once each month. Armin Klemme was the first board president of the pantry.
The couple have been married for 58 years this month. They have four grown children, Dr. Paul Klemme, director of music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem, Ore.; twins Esther Schmidt, an administrative assistant at Clark-Vitt Elementary in Union, Elizabeth Klemme, administrative office assistant at Guardian Angels Preschool in St. Louis; and Phillip Klemme, owner of The Grounds Guys in Union.
Long Haul Award
The award is for direct, outstanding service and has no relation to Chamber membership. The Long Haul Award is given to a citizen — and now one couple — of the Union area, who is over the age of 65, and 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.
Past recipients of the award include: Albert Schulte, Inza Conley, Kenneth Wehmueller, Leo J. Peirick, Hamilton Brightwell, Elvis Winchester, L.J. Williams;
Helen Thomas, Clifton Schuenemeyer, Ray Arand, Paul Schoene; Mel Goers, Allen Peters, Jack Fraser, Robert McDonald, Richard Hoemann, Louella Hoemeyer;
Robert Hansen, Lucy Lomax, Sid Richman, Wayne Rathgeber, Eldo Strubberg, Glenn Van Leer; Bill Martindill, Gerald Borgmann, Ralph Smith, Leroy Strubberg, John Devos and Dixie VanLeer, Larry Davis, Sam Stausing and John Devine.