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1999: Dorothy Malone
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1995: Lois Gray
1994: Alice Scott
1993: Jan Schmidt
1992: Dot Hansen
1991: Lottie Robinson
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1989: Allene Craddock
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X-No award was given in 2007
By JOHN FRIEDLEIN
ELIZABETHTOWN — The Elizabethtown-Hardin County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday honored a local woman for her years of community service — from working with Girl Scouts to being her church’s first female elder.
Betty Swope was named Woman of the Year during a Pritchard Community Center luncheon, which also featured a speech by State Auditor Crit Luallen.
Mary Roberts, owner of Omni Personnel, called Swope someone who “loves family, friends, neighbors, church and community.” And serving in the Navy during World War II “proves how she also loves her country.”
After graduating from Miami (Ohio) University in 1942 with an education degree, Swope served in Washington as a lieutenant, protecting and issuing new military codes.
She moved to Elizabethtown in the early ’60s.
“That proved to be a very positive thing for Hardin County,” Roberts said.
Some of Swope’s activities have included hosting Leadership Elizabethtown meetings in her home, serving as a Scout troop leader and on a council board, being the first woman elected an elder of First Presbyterian Church, and serving on the boards of youth treatment centers.
Swope also was the 2004 grand marshal of the Heartland Festival Parade.
Asked after the ceremony about what motivates her volunteerism, she said: “When they asked me to serve, I served.”
Swope, whose family owns a well-known local car dealership, is the second recipient of the chamber honor, which is a revival of the former Athena Awards last given in 2006.
The Woman of the Year honor recognizes someone who has achieved a “high degree of professional or community service” and helped other women develop to their full potential by opening up leadership opportunities, said Mark Haynes, chairman of the chamber board. And, in doing so, the recipients inspire others to achieve.
“I’m so surprised that I hardly know what to say,” Swope said when accepting her award. “You’ve heard all about what I’ve done, and I don’t know what else I can say other than: Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Last year’s recipient was former chamber president Edith Dupin.
After the Woman of the Year presentation Thursday, Luallen commented on the large number of female chamber members in the audience.
And she discussed the need to get women more involved in public service, at least in part because these challenging economic times need the participation of everyone. Luallen mentioned the low percentages of women in state elected offices.
“We have a long way to go,” she said.
John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.