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Six of Mission’s leading citizens were recognized with special awards Tuesday evening at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce annual banquet held at Mario’s Banquet and Conference Center. The citizens awards were announced by Progress Times Publisher Jim Brunson and General Manager Dan Brunson before a full house at the sold-out event.

The Woman of the Year award was presented to Maxilou Link, while the Man of the Year went to Timothy Brown. First Lady of Mission was awarded to Sandra Vecchio, and Jim Schroeder was presented with the Mr. Mission Award. A special Spirit of Mission award was given to Bob and Janet Vackar.

The first person to receive the Man of the Year award in Mission was Ray Landry (1950), the city’s former fire chief and father of Tom Landry, of Dallas Cowboys fame. Pointing to the community’s long history of presenting these awards, Jim Brunson said it is important to maintain our traditions, such as the annual citizens awards, to “help us remember who we are.”

Spirit of Mission

20121016-Mission-C-of-C-Awards-083Bob and Janet Vackar, owners of the Valley’s Bert Ogden auto dealerships, were presented with the Spirit of Mission award for their continuous support of “what’s good for Mission,” said Brunson This award has been presented on only a few occasions over the past three decades.

Brunson said, the Spirit of Mission award “is a special award reserved for the rare occasion when someone stands out in our community serving in a different way – giving service outside of traditional organizations.”

Bob Vackar, a veteran of the Vietnam War era, is a passionate advocate and supporter of veterans and military personnel. In addition, Bob and Janet Vackar have supported many worthy causes over the years, including Hope on Wheels – benefiting the Vannie Cook Cancer Center, Mission Pink, RGV Food Bank, Head Start programs, Mission Boys & Girls Club, the Valley Land Fund, Palm Valley Animal Shelter and numerous scholarship programs. They were selected by Easter Seals as Humanitarians of the Year, among other awards.

“Simply said, these are good people who have worked hard and who’ve shared their success to bless the lives of others,” said Brunson. “We, the residents of Mission have been the recipients of their generosity and support.”

Mr. Mission

20121016-Mission-C-of-C-Awards-081James “Jim” Schroeder, owner of Mission Paving Co., Inc., was named Mr. Mission for 2012. Schroeder is largely known throughout the community as the force behind two major activities: the Shipping for Soldiers Program and the annual Mission Classic Car Show.

Through the Shipping for Soldiers program, over 5,000 care packages have been sent to soldiers overseas fighting the War on Terrorism. Many of those soldiers have returned to thank him for caring.

Schroeder is a member of the Mission Rotary Club where he served as a director and had received the Paul Harris Fellow award. He has been a great supporter of many causes over the years. A few include Wounded Warriors, Comfort House, American Cancer Society, Special Olympics, Mission Historical Museum, RGV Food Bank and Mission Baccalaureate.

First Lady of Mission

20121016-Mission-C-of-C-Awards-077It was no surprise that Sandra Vecchio was in attendance at this year’s Chamber of Commerce Banquet. After all, she was being installed as the organization’s new chairwoman of the board. What did surprise her was the announcement that she was selected as this year’s First Lady of Mission.

While introducing her as First Lady, Brunson said, those who know her know that she has a passion for charities, and her lengthy list of service on boards and in community organizations is the embodiment of her passion.

Her service includes Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Easter Seals, where many years of fundraising service earned her the 1995 Volunteer of the Year award. She has served on the board of the hospice Comfort House for the past seven years and on the Blues Festival committee, which raises funds for that organization and other non-profits. She has also worked on fundraising for United Way and the North American Butterfly Association.

She has worked with the Sister Cities program, helping provide school supplies and coats to the needy in Mexico. She has fought the war on hunger and poverty at home also, participating in food and clothing drives for the Mission Food Pantry.

While serving on The Foundation at Mission Regional Medical Center, she worked on raising funds for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

She is a Mission Rotarian and a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where she has served as a catechist teacher. She has served as a board member of the Mission Chamber of Commerce for 17 years.

Man of the Year

20121016-Mission-C-of-C-Awards-065Timothy “Tim” Brown, of Ric Brown Family Funeral Home, was presented the Man of the Year award for years of dedicated service through several organizations.

He served on the Mission Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors from 2001 through 2007. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Silver Ribbon Community Partners.

From 2006 until 2011, he served on the board of directors for Comfort House Services. The hospice Comfort House strives to make the lives of the terminally ill and their families more comfortable during a difficult time.

Currently, he serves as a member of the City of Mission Parks & Recreation Department board of directors, where his work there continues to make Mission a better place for the families of the community.

Woman of the Year

20121016-Mission-C-of-C-Awards-070Known as the “unstoppable dynamo,” 88-year-old Maxilou Link was named Woman of the Year. Link has served on the board of the Upper Valley Art League for the past 20 years, and has served as president twelve times. Under her leadership the Upper Valley Art League has thrived and expanded several times.

“She works tirelessly to bring art to our community,” said Dan Brunson who announced the award. “She is continually bringing classes and workshops to our community through the Upper Valley Art League, filling rosters, recruiting teachers, securing space and resources, and arranging venues to get art out into our community.

“When she is not handling the daily business of the Upper Valley Art League, you’ll find her attending every function she can get to—networking, educating, sharing her love and passion for art,” he said.

“It is with creativity, drive, determination, and humility twice what most of us could muster at half her age that this year’s Woman of the Year truly has enriched Mission, our residents and our visitors,” Brunson concluded.

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