The Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame award recognizes an individual or local business for their long-term contributions to the economy and community.
So it’s no surprise it was posthumously awarded Thursday evening to banker Ronnie Pence during the chamber’s awards banquet at the State Theater in Elizabethtown. Pence’s wife, Nancy, and other family members accepted the award.
Nancy, with her voice breaking, thanked everyone for not forgetting her husband, who died in November 2017.
“That is the main thing that I worry about is that people are going to forget about him,” she said. “Thank you for remembering him and honoring him and I just wish he was here with us to be able to accept it himself.”
Pence graduated in 1973 from West Hardin High School, in 1977 from the University of Kentucky with a degree in accounting, in 1992 from the Kentucky School of Banking and in 2007 from the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
Pence was a founding member of Kentucky Neighborhood Bank, where he served as president and CEO, director and major stockholder until the bank was sold in 2016 to South Central Bank. Upon the sale of the bank, he remained as regional president and a director of South Central Bank.
Pence also was past president of the Association of United States Army local chapter, a board of directors member for the chamber for many years serving on numerous committees and was the 2009 chairman of the board. He was a past board member of the United Way of Central Kentucky, a long-time member of the Elizabethtown Rotary Club and recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow.
Pence also was a charter member of Crossroads Baptist Church, where he served as one of the elders and gave significant time and talent numerous committees.
The Chamber Champion Award, renamed in Pence’s honor, was presented to Kendra Scott. The Chamber Champion recognizes an individual who has put forth an exemplary effort to advance initiatives important to the chamber’s mission.
“I love Ronnie with all of my heart. He will never, ever be forgotten,” Scott said. “This means the world to me and I will treasure it so much. I am just honored and blessed.”
The Government Excellence Award, which recognizes a government sector individual or organization who demonstrates a collaborative approach in the community, helping to promote growth and development and a pro-business climate throughout the region, was presented to Judge-Executive Harry Berry.
Berry’s focus “is on improving the county’s services and infrastructure while providing sound fiscal management of our resources,” the presentation said.
The Quality of Peace award recognizes an individual or organization who actively is engaged in efforts to promote Hardin County as a great place to live, work, play and learn. The award went to the Elizabethtown Sports Park and was accepted by chairman of the Elizabethtown Tourism Commission Carl Swope and Mayor Jeff Gregory.
There was a tie for the Rising Star award, which celebrates a recently established business or organization that has become an important contributor to the economic success of the region. The recipients were Flywheel Brewing and Daily Green Power.
Taking home the Ambassador of the Year award, which recognizes a chamber ambassador who exemplifies volunteerism and champions the goals of the chamber, was Christy Gordon, director of sales and marketing at Springhill Suites by Marriott.
The Ralph Reese Fort Knox/Community Partner Award, which recognizes an individual or organization who has made an exemplary effort toward an initiative or initiatives important to the military and community partnership between Fort Knox and Hardin County, was presented to Emmet Holley, deputy to the garrison commander at Fort Knox.
Two outgoing board members, Jon Ballard and Kenny Rambo, also were recognized at the event.