Citizen of the year 'humbled' by the honor

Many know Monticello attorney Bill Tracy for his four decades as a local attorney and partner in the Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk and Miller law firm.

But his behind-the-scenes volunteer work with local organizations is what prompted organizers to name him the Piatt County Journal-Republican 2018 Citizen of the Year.

In introducing him at the Monticello Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet on Nov. 8, News-Gazette Publisher John Reed called Tracy “a true asset to every organization for which he is involved, volunteering his time and expertise to countless not-for-profit organizations in our community. His dedication is unmatched.”

Tracy’s resume in-cludes serving as both director and president of the Piatt County Nursing Home Foundation since its inception, in addition to being a commissioner with the Piatt County Public Building Commission, also since it was formed.

“Apparently, when considering volunteer opportunities, he likes to get in on the ground floor,” added Reed.

Tracy also serves on the Kirby Medical Center Ethics Committee, is on the Monticello Golf Association’s board of directors, is involved in the Monticello’s YMCA’s Advisory Group, and is also in groups that include the local Rotary, Lions and Knights of Columbus (Ivesdale Council).

After being handed the award at the banquet, Tracy noted that, for someone who has little problem coming up with speeches in the courtroom, he was somewhat at a loss for words at that moment.

“A number of words came to mind, of course honored and flattered were a couple that jumped out at me right away. But they didn’t really seem to fit the emotion of my feelings,” he commented. “So finally, after I took a look at the list of past honorees of this award,” he said, “the word that I was looking for finally jumped out at me.

“The word is humbled. I am humbled to be considered in the company of 46 or so people (past recipients), or organizations or groups who have been awarded the Citizen of the Year title before me,” he added. “And I’m also humbled to be singled out for this honor from all the other people in our community who could have been selected in my stead.”

Tracy graduated from Bement High School, St. Louis University and law school at Northwestern University. He and his wife of nearly 49 years have three children and five grandchildren.

Honorary Achievement Award
Longtime Habitat for Humanity of Piatt County volunteer Dean Howarter was named the 2018 Honorary Achievement Award winner.

Howarter has helped organize firewood sales that have raised $150,000 in recent years for Habitat.

“His efforts in this area have included felling trees, hauling them to the storage location, taking care of the cutting, splitting, and staking duties and ultimately delivering it to consumers from Decatur to Champaign and all points between,” commented Reed.

“I would like to thank the rest of those who helped raise the money for Habitat. We have a fine group and board of directors, and people who help with the firewood. There a lot of them here tonight,” said Howarter in accepting the award. “This is not a job that happens easily, but it takes a lot of people to get this job done, and we appreciate the help from everybody.”

A Kansas native who now calls Monticello his home, Howarter and his wife Linda have four children and several grandchildren.

The featured speaker for the evening was former University of Illinois wrestling coach Mark Johnson, who recently retired as CEO of the Stephens Family YMCA.

Johnson said he “always wanted to be a coach,” but “always respected business people” who took more financial risk than he did when they choose to run their own business.

Johnson led the U of I grapplers to three Big 10 championships, had seven individual national champions and his teams boasted 45 All-Americans during his 17 years that ended in 2009.

He is enjoying retirement and trying to be the best grandfather he can be, but admitted he misses coaching.

“I don’t remember the wins and losses. I remember the guys,” added Johnson.



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