A retired band director who touched countless lives during his career, a pastor without a church who
serves the entire community and a farmer who finds fulfillment in mentoring were among nine recipients
of the 2009 Spirit of Wood County Awards.
Honored by the Wood County commissioners during the program Sunday at the Wood County Historical Center
were Mark Kelly, Robert Bettinger, John Helm, Rev. Kristel Asmus, David Adams and Douglas Troutner.
Receiving awards posthumously were Chris Miller, Richard Van Vorhis and David Van Vorhis.
Education for Civic Responsibility was given to Mark Kelly, retired as the director of bands for Bowling
Green State University. He was nominated by Wendy and Thomas Headley, two of his former students.
Alternately reading paragraphs of the detailed speech with his wife, Headley said, "At the
university he commanded the bands with incredibly high standards for musical excellence and personal
behavior. Students who may initially have felt challenged by Kelly’s ‘firm but fair’ approach soon
discovered that Kelly’s leadership was actually fueled by love … love for bands and band music, love
for students (sometimes, tough love) … love for family, for the university, love for country."
After receiving his plaque, Kelly said he was surprised and grateful to be nominated. "Helen and I
moved from Iowa and lived here 43 years. It’s been a wonderful life," he stated, adding he told his
students when they graduated from BGSU to "find a home you’re comfortable with and don’t be pushing
around year after year. We have received nothing but total respect and kindness all the years we’ve
Religion and Liberty went to Rev. Kristel Asmus. She was nominated by her three stepdaughters, Vicki
Hoehner, Angie Murphy and Darla Radabaugh.
An active member of Dayspring Assembly of God, Asmus was praised for being involved with the local jail
ministry, including the Juvenile Detention Center, her leadership with the BG Ministerial Association
and the county’s Chaplaincy Committee, her coordination of the National Day of Prayer in Wood County for
18 years, numerous mission trips outside of the U.S. and involvement with the Samaritan’s Purse
Operation Christmas Child.
"Kristel models to her family and community what service looks like, how love can reach out, how to
treasure religious freedom, and how uniting arms with others in the Christian faith can make a
difference in the lives of people and our society as a whole," said Hoehner.
In her acceptance speech outlining some of her ministries, Asmus stressed, "It’s not me. It’s Christ
in me that gives. It’s not my words. It’s the words Christ has spoken. It’s Christ that touches lives,
not me. I’m just obedient. … I do it because I want to make a difference."
Self-Government was presented to David Adams, a third generation farmer in Portage and Liberty Township
trustee. He was nominated by his parents, Glenn and Dorothy Adams.
"He wears many hats and helps the many people who call upon him, family, friends, Liberty Township
citizens, church members," said Dorothy Adams. In a mentoring situation featured in various media,
she said their son’s relationship with Ryan Miller is one of "a little boy that wanted to farm and
a farmer who wanted to teach." Miller is now an adult, and Adams will become his helper on the farm
as he downsizes his own interest in farming.
Accepting the award on behalf of their father who was unable to attend were Jim Adams and his sister,
Jenny. He noted their father "is a man who is very selfless and cares deeply about everyone around
him. His work with Ryan is a microcosm of his work in the community. … He is a mentor to me in that
respect, going out and serving other people. He does this very humbly, and doesn’t look for photo ops
… ." He learned from his father government means "working for the people, doing it for their
good and not the political side."
Industrial/Economic Development was given to Robert Bettinger. He was nominated by Sheriff Mark
"He is probably the most diverse person I’ve ever met in my life," stated the sheriff, giving a
brief resume of the different companies Bettinger founded and later sold. But Wasylyshyn noted he was
best known for purchasing Nazareth Hall.
"That property stood vacant for many, many years. Who had the vision to do anything with this? Bob
had the vision to turn it into a beautiful, thriving business and maintain the beauty and character of
the building and property."
Bettinger acknowledged the clients he’d had who contributed to the success of his companies. "It is
I who want to thank the people of Wood County for supporting the businesses," he said, adding
thanks to his wife Barbara for being there "through great years and lean years," and his son,
Rob, who "carries the business forward."
Liberty Through Law/Human Freedom went to John Helm, investigator with the Wood County Prosecuting
Attorney’s Office. He was nominated by Rex Huffman.
"John certainly had a distinguished career as an investigator," said Huffman. He stressed that
Helm "guarantees due process to all of us. All of us includes all of us. There was a time in our
city it was not so." Huffman said children were a great sector who did not have a voice in the
system. "John remembered these children were victims and had to have a voice in the system."
With over 30 years of service with the prosecutor’s office, Helm quipped he and Commissioner Alvie
Perkins would one day be stuffed and put into the Wood County Historical Museum directly behind where
the awards were presented. "I’ve been blessed by God with a number of people I’ve worked with
who’ve supported me and made working in Wood County a joy. Wood County is a unique place to work. There
is a balance in Wood County that can’t be achieved in other places," Helm said, based on his
experience with other counties.
The Lyle B. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award was presented to Douglas Troutner of North Baltimore. He was
nominated by his children, Tim Troutner and Theresa Crist.
Troutner’s community service was acknowledged through his work with Habitat for Humanity, the Wood County
Board of Aging, North Baltimore Lions Club, a deliverer of Meals on Wheels and Salvation Army during the
"We do notice the actions of a good citizen and know it’s important," said Crist.
Tim Troutner added more to the list of deeds by his father, including being a good neighbor by delivering
generators during winter power outages and helping people with flooded basements by giving them a sump
pump. "We couldn’t be more proud that he is our father," he said.
"I enjoy doing what I do," responded the award recipient. "I’m retired, and I tell
everybody I’m 127 and have the option of saying ‘no.’ Volunteering is a large part of what I enjoy. The
great benefit of that is you meet a great many wonderful people and (have) a great opportunity for
educational experiences." He urged the audience members to volunteer more, "serve your
community and fellow man, find the opportunity and challenge."
Agricultural Leadership was given posthumously to Richard Van Vorhis and David Van Vorhis, the past owner
and co-owner of Wood County Farm Implement. They were nominated by the Steve and Diane Wensink family.
Reading the family’s nomination of the two men, Amy Wensink noted Richard Van Vorhis was the owner of the
dealership, along with his wife, June, from 1963 until he died in 2006. "He was passionate about
serving his customers in every way possible and making sure that they were able to keep working,"
even if it meant a trip to the store after it closed to get parts for a customer with a broken
Of David Van Vorhis, Wensink said, "David carried on his father’s love of serving the farming
community. … A strong work ethic was instilled in him by his father. David was a genuine, honest and
very easy going person." Both men were praised for being strong supporters of Wood County 4-H, FFA
and the National Tractor Pullers.
Accepting the awards on behalf of their husbands were June Van Vorhis and Deb Van Vorhis. "Thank you
for honoring the Van Vorhis family with this award," said Deb Van Vorhis. "I want to thank
everybody, and the Wensink family. I know David thought a lot of you."
The final award was a Special Spirit of Wood County presentation to the late Chris Miller, a reporter for
the Sentinel-Tribune for 16 years who died in April. He was nominated by Jan Larson. Commissioner James
Carter said sometimes there is a person who doesn’t fit an award category but still deserves
"Chris Miller was a true believer in the public’s right to know," said Larson. "He
believed that by telling citizens what the people in power were up to, that power was then divvied up
between all the little people in the community." She said Miller "believed that true
journalism gives people the information and lets them decide the best course of action." He was a
true storyteller who could paint pictures of his subjects and knew that everyone has a story to tell. He
was respected by the people in power whom he covered as a reporter, from judges and mayors to top people
in law enforcement.
In accepting the award, his widow, Michelle, thanked the commissioners for it and added thanks to Larson
as well. "Jan is a dear friend. I’m very impressed you got through that. Thank you very much on
behalf of Chris."