Local named notable citizen

Dedicated civil servant. Talented musician. Local historian. Generous and courteous gentleman. That about sums it up when describing the 2012 Outstanding Auglaize County Senior Citizen.

Vern Doenges, former county auditor, dance band warbler, collector of postcards and author of the daily “Looking Backward” column, and “all-around good guy” will be honored Sept. 18 during the annual celebration of senior citizens at the Auglaize County Council on Aging (ACCA).

“When I heard about that, I was real flabbergasted,” Doenges said. “I don’t want people to think I’m bragging, but it does make you feel pretty good about yourself.”

A number of nominations led to the ACCA board’s decision to present Doenges as this year’s Outstanding Senior Citizen, ACCA Director Christine Roby said.

She announced Doenges’ selection late last week and shared the nominations.

“There are few people who have served Auglaize County longer or better than Vernon,” Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Executive Director Greg Myers said, listing his more than 25 years as county auditor as well as his years collecting postcards, advertising materials and news clippings from the communities of Auglaize County. “I can think of no one better to represent the county as Senior Citizen of the Year.”

Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce directors endorsed Doenges’ nomination. “His willingness to remain involved in the community after retirement serves as a model for other seniors to follow,” chamber Executive Director Dan Graf said.

Doenges also earned words of praise from Auglaize County Auditor Janet Schuler.

“To taxpayers, Vern was a patient listener who was willing to hear the other side of a dispute,” Schuler said.

His passion for local history has earned him the title of local historian, although he tends to dispute that claim. But don’t let Doenges fool you — he is very knowledgeable and generous when it comes to all he’s learned and collected through the years, a local history officials said.

“Vern is absolutely the go-to person for many in Auglaize County who have questions about local history,” Auglaize County Historical Society Administrator Rachel Barber said. “For decades he has collected articles, advertisements, postcards, etc., that help us all know more about our history. Most significantly, he is generous with his information. Vern never keeps this knowledge to himself. He knows that history will be lost if it is not shared. And he does so, without hesitation.”

His column, Looking Backward, found daily in the Wapakoneta Daily News, is a well-read feature.

“As a life-long Auglaize County resident, former elected official and postcard collector, Vern has a keen insight into what items will pique the interest of our readers,” Wapakoneta Daily News Publisher Deb Zwez said. “Vern doesn’t let his age slow him down and he never misses a deadline.”

The recognition of Doenges as the 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizen is part of “It Happens at My Senior Center. My Life. My time. My Way,” a celebration of National Senior Center Month. The program includes an introduction by Roby, presentations by the county commissioners, staff and volunteer recognition, entertainment and lunch.