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Each year, Truman Heartland Community Foundation tasks area mayors with nominating an extraordinary citizen from their city to receive the coveted Citizen of the Year Award. These citizens have proven themselves to be instrumental in the development of strong communities and offering unwavering support to their neighbors.

Blue Springs Citizen of the Year – Russell Clark

Russ Clark

Russell was the owner and president of Big Picture Signs n’ Mor before moving on to and retiring from Golden Years Construction and Remodeling in 2008. Russell represented District 2 as an Alderman on the Blue Springs City Council for several years and was a Commissioner of the Blue Springs Charter Commission in 1993. Beyond his city government service, Russell contributed to his community by instructing adult education courses in various art forms at Blue Springs High School for several years. Russell was involved in a number of organizations, including the Son's of the American Legion for nearly 50 years, serving as Cub Master of Pack 763, and acting as chairman of the Fall Fun Fest for many years. Additionally, he was President of the Blue Springs Kiwanis Club for six years and currently serves as the program manager for guest speakers. Russell truly embodies the spirit of community service.

Grain Valley Citizen of the Year - Marty Napier

Marty Napier

Marty holds the Grain Valley Historical Society close to her heart. She volunteers every Wednesday to ensure that the building is open to the public and that they can view all the amazing historical artifacts. Marty also writes a column for the Grain Valley News, sharing stories about families who have shaped the history of the community. She is truly the Grain Valley historian. Additionally, Marty serves as a board member for the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Grain Valley Board and advises the counseling office at the Grain Valley School District. She also served for six years on the Truman Heartland Community Foundation Blue Springs/Grain Valley Advisory Board, serving as chair for a year. Her passion and dedication will play a vital role in the rejuvenation of Main Street as she advocates for local businesses and fosters community spirit, which has already helped Grain Valley prosper.

Grandview Citizen of the Year – Ben Teevan

Ben Teevan

Ben is a member of America's Greatest Generation, having served in the Navy aboard the USS Alabama from 1943 to 1946. He and his wife, Betty, raised their three children in Grandview, and they all graduated from Grandview High School. Ben is highly dedicated to maintaining his yard and still cares for it by himself. He has proudly received Grandview’s coveted "Yard of the Month" award not once but twice. His unwavering resilience, personal fortitude, and utterly beautiful yard have earned him the respect and admiration of the whole community.

Independence Citizen of the Year – Bob Spradling

Bob Spradling

Bob spent 50 years as the pastor of Maywood Baptist Church, helping people find their church home. He was an active member of the Personnel Committee for the City of Independence and played an active role in the school boundary change. Bob is an advocate for addiction recovery and supports organizations like Northwest Community Development Corporation, Twelve Blocks West, and the Independence Police Charitable Foundation. His civic leadership has earned him numerous awards, including the Key to the City of DeRidder, Louisiana, the THCF Citizen of the Year for his work with the school transition team, and the Civic Leadership Award from the Westgate Division of the Missouri League. Today, he continues to make a difference with his friend Rudy Ross by sharing daily YouTube videos on a variety of topics with warmth and humor.

Lake Lotawana & Lee’s Summit Citizen of the Year – Carl Chinnery

Carl Chinnery

Carl has an impressive history of serving various organizations in leadership roles. He was the Chairman of the Truman Medical Center Planned Giving Council, as well as the Children's Mercy Hospital Planned Giving Council. He served as Secretary for the Powell Gardens Board and held the position of District Governor of Rotary International from 2002 to 2003. He served as the President of the Lee's Summit Chamber in 1978 and the President of the Lee's Summit Economic Development Council in 1996-1997. In addition, he was a past Chairman at Rockhurst College Small Business Development Corporation. Carl has also been the President of the Lee's Summit R-7 Board of Education and the President of the Lee's Summit Educational Foundation. His strong entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive him to help his community, even in “retirement.”

Lake Tapawingo Citizen of the Year – John Braden

John Braden

John has been a dedicated member of the Lake Tapawingo community for many years. In 2002, he volunteered to be the editor of the Lake Tapawingo News, a monthly newsletter that serves as a vital tool for bringing the community together. In 2012, the Country Club Board once again needed an editor for the Lake Tapawingo News, and John was happy to resume the role he has now held for over a decade. Throughout his time in the community, John has also volunteered for various projects, including the Lake Tapawingo Community Advisory Project in 2004 and a task force to study building a new joint City Hall/Country Club Office complex in 2008. He has also advocated for property tax increases to finance a general obligation bond to replace the water system and restore the city’s financial stability. John's unwavering commitment to the Lake Tapawingo community has made a significant impact.

Oak Grove Citizen of the Year – Becky & Randy Messer

Becky and Randy Messer

Becky and Randy are unmistakable figures in their Oak Grove community. For nearly 30 years, Becky was a teacher in the Oak Grove School District and was named Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022. She has dedicated countless hours to empowering students and volunteers as both a coach and teacher for the Parks and Recreation department. Randy, a retired Pastor of First Baptist Church, Oak Grove, has served the people of Oak Grove for more than 30 years. He was recently named Oak Grove Chamber Citizen of the Year and has volunteered for numerous local events and committees. Together, they are a dynamic couple who consistently go above and beyond for others, and their generous spirit has made a profound impact on the lives of so many.

Raytown Citizen of the Year – Martha Cockerell

Martha Cockerell

In 2009, Martha retired from her position as Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources at Raytown Quality Schools. However, she returned four years later as the Executive Director of Raytown Educational Foundation. Martha has been instrumental in expanding the foundation, which now has more than $1 million in funds that are used to support and enhance Raytown schools. She is an active member of several organizations, including the Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Raytown Kiwanis Club, and Truman Heartland Community Foundation, where she held a wide variety of leadership roles, including board chair in 2014. Martha is a dedicated educator who believes in giving back to the community she loves.

Sugar Creek Citizen of the Year – Patrick Casey

Pat Casey

Patrick has a strong commitment to serving his community. He was born and raised in Sugar Creek and graduated from St. Mary's High School. Patrick has dedicated much of his time to serving his community as a volunteer firefighter, then as Deputy Fire Chief, and finally as Fire Chief. He has been a vital member of the Sugar Creek City Council and an effective and efficient City Administrator. Additionally, Patrick helps organize the Red Bag Day event each year, which collects gifts for local children in need. He also participates in an annual fundraiser to support people impacted by Down Syndrome. Patrick's heart is full of compassion, and he has made a significant positive impact on the entire Sugar Creek community.

Past Recipients


Blue Springs – Keith Hannaman
Grain Valley – Bob Headley
Independence – Karen DeLuccie (posthumous)
Lake Tapawingo – Jayme Dean
Lee’s Summit – Dr. Elaine Metcalf
Oak Grove – The Fidler Family
Raytown – Dr. Allan Markley
Sugar Creek – Jeff Shawhan


Blue Springs – Cindy Miller & Dale Carter
Grain Valley – David Ward
Independence – Karen Downey
Lake Tapawingo – Tom Goddard
Lee’s Summit – Bob & Candy White
Oak Grove – Maeghan Timothy
Raytown – Allan Thompson
Sugar Creek – Stan Sagehorn


Blue Springs – James L. May
Grain Valley – Christina “Kiki” Claphan (posthumous)
Independence – Stan and Michele Crumbaugh
Lake Tapawingo – Brad Cloverdyke
Lee’s Summit – Wyatt and Crystal Durgan
Raytown – Carol Frevert and Mary Oyler
Sugar Creek – Bill Haman


Blue Springs – The Meyers Family
Grain Valley – Dr. Brad Welle
Independence – Randy (posthumous) & Kathleen Vest
Lake Tapawingo – Tomi Bellinghausen
Lee’s Summit – Dr. Jay Rapley
Raytown – Vicki Turnbow
Sugar Creek – Don Border


Blue Springs — The Cosentino Family
Grain Valley — Jim Kissick
Independence — Dave and Connie Mayta
Lake Tapawingo — Rocky Queen
Lee’s Summit — Rod Handley
Raytown — DeeAnn Stock
Sugar Creek — Don and Mary Puhr


Blue Springs — N.T. Reed (Nick) Burrus
Grain Valley — James (Jim) T. Cook
Independence — Brad Speaks
Lake Tapawingo — George W. (Renny) Buckaloo
Lee’s Summit — Laurence Pressly
Raytown — Steve Mock (Posthumously)
Sugar Creek — Joseph D. Kenney


Blue Springs — Dave Smith
Grain Valley — Darryl Jones
Independence — Donna Pittman
Lake Winnebago — Chief Richard Williams
Lee’s Summit — Nick and Jennifer Swearngin
Raytown — Chris and Stacey Payne
Sugar Creek — Bob Buckley


Blue Springs — Linda Edison
Grain Valley — Michael Scully
Independence — Ron and Molly Clemons
Lake Winnebago — Steve Besermin
Lee’s Summit — Art and Hope Davis
Raytown — David Bower
Sugar Creek — Valerie Soule


Blue Springs — Ted and Betty Meyer
Grain Valley — Allen Lefko
Independence — Bill and Jill Esry
Lake Winnebago — Dr. Steven Silverstein
Lee’s Summit — The Tominia Family
Raytown — Mike McDonough
Sugar Creek — Herb Soule


Blue Springs — Steve Steiner & Dale Walkup
Grain Valley — Nancy Totton
Independence — Jack Gant
Lake Winnebago — Michael Collar
Lee’s Summit — Christine Bushyhead
Raytown — Terry Landers
Sugar Creek — Stan Salva


Blue Springs — Eleanor Frasier
Grain Valley — Jeff Coleman
Independence — Bill Rogers
Lake Winnebago — Aldo Mariotti
Lee’s Summit — Susan Coffman
Raytown — Bob and Jodie Smith
Sugar Creek — Dennis Onka


Blue Springs — F. Mark Hissong and Steve Mokosak
Grain Valley — David “Scott” Hedger
Independence — Jerry Mackey
Lake Winnebago — Dr. Jim Elias
Lee’s Summit – Dr. Emmanuel Ngomsi
Oak Grove — Danny and Dottie Hughes
Raytown — Barbara and Ben Carmack
Sugar Creek — Robert and Debbie Ray


Blue Springs — Art Phillips
Grain Valley — Dale and Sheila Arnold
Independence — Robert J. “Bob” Reeds
Lake Winnebago — Shirley Bond
Lee’s Summit — Jon Ellis and Vicky Cundiff
Oak Grove — Floyd and Frances Evans
Raytown — Kenneth Fleishmann and Kenneth Whisler
Sugar Creek — Jim Rittel and John Ryan


Blue Springs — Tom Evans
Grain Valley — Sharon Stewart
Independence — Ira and Nina Anders
Lake Winnebago — Jim McCambridge
Lee’s Summit — Michael Paul and Mary Ann Swisher
Oak Grove — Roy Meier
Raytown — Kenneth Blom
Sugar Creek — Veronica Powell


Blue Springs — Dr. Mark and Mrs. Cheryl Mozer
Grain Valley — Mary Strack
Independence — School Transition Team
Kansas City — Rev. John Modest Miles
Lake Winnebago — David Claycomb
Lee’s Summit — Geneva High
Oak Grove — Norby Corn
Raytown — Mike Aprill
Sugar Creek — Robert and Jake Welch


Blue Springs — Rick Nelson and Jeanie Lauer
Grain Valley — Dr. Chris Small
Independence — Cynthia and Kenneth McClain
Lake Winnebago — Bob Mais
Lee’s Summit — Larry Stewart, posthumously
Oak Grove — Hollis Dyer
Raytown — John Ness
Sugar Creek — Robert Pinter and Barry Berislavich
Silver Legacy, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum


Blue Springs — Lois Krueger
Grain Valley — Chuck Johnston
Independence — Glenn and Ada Betts
Kansas City — Mary Lou Jaramillo
Lake Winnebago — Robert Bennett
Lee’s Summit — Kathy Smith
Raytown — Al Maddox
Sugar Creek — Joe and Kathleen Woods


Blue Springs — Louie Lamendola
Grain Valley — David Hackett
Independence — Dr. Bridget McCandless
Kansas City — E. Frank Ellis
Lee’s Summit — Gene Gamber
Raytown — Gary Knabe
Sugar Creek — Ron Rybarczyk


Blue Springs — Larry Sparks
Grain Valley — Jan Reding
Independence — Larry Blick
Kansas City — Rev. Ralph J. Crabbe
Lee’s Summit — Phyllis Hamilton and Russ Berlin
Raytown — Rosalie Vanzant
Sugar Creek — L. Earle Conner


Blue Springs — Cindy Coburn
Grain Valley — Matt Farlin
Independence — Ken Johnston
Kansas City — Herbert M. Kohn
Lee’s Summit — Paula Belser
Raytown — Dr. Marlon Steinert
Sugar Creek — Alex Petrovic
Lone Jack — Howard E. Hensel


Blue Springs — Diane Mack
Grain Valley — Kim Roam
Independence — Galen Boyer, Jr.
Kansas City — C. Patrick McLarney
Lee’s Summit — Mel Aytes
Raytown — Edna Scahill
Sugar Creek — Mark O’Renick


Blue Springs — Derrick Warren
Grain Valley — Steve Gildehaus
Independence — Robert F. Glaser
Kansas City — Herman A. Johnson
Lake Lotawana — Dave Wagner
Lee’s Summit — Betty McNought
Raytown — Alyse Stoll
Sugar Creek — Lanard Toys


Blue Springs — Pam Albarelli and Lyle Shaver
Independence — Carl Mesle
Kansas City — Carolyn Vellar
Lake Lotawana — Howard Chamberlin
Lee’s Summit — Bud Hertzog
Raytown — Robert R. Sego
Sugar Creek — Charles Dumsky
Oak Grove — Brad and Fred Byam


Blue Springs — Carol Journagan
Independence — Lu Vaughan
Kansas City — Neighborhood Volunteers
Lake Lotawana — Barbara Robison
Lee’s Summit — Kay Ford
Raytown — Allen J. Brown
Sugar Creek — John Maglich
Grandview — Don Armacost, Jr.


Blue Springs — Imelda Farmer
Independence — Steven E. Mauer
Kansas City — Mary Groves Bland
Lake Lotawana — Rodney Sommers
Lee’s Summit — John C. Graham, Sr.
Raytown — Judith L. Ness
Sugar Creek — John McEvoy
Greenwood — Dan Vansickle


Blue Springs — Olen Wilkinson
Independence — Paul Weston
Kansas City — Vernon Thompson
Lake Lotawana — Brenda Ferrell
Lee’s Summit — Mary Stacy
Raytown — Shirley and David Wurth
Sugar Creek — Nancy Kimak
Lone Jack — James Neece


Blue Springs — Jim Moran
Independence — Roberta Coker
Kansas City — Rev. Wallace Hartsfield
Lake Lotawana — Paulla Martin
Lee’s Summit — Rev. Tom G. Haley
Raytown — Penny Hoffman
Sugar Creek — John C. “Jack” O’Renick
Grain Valley — Robert Gillette

two dressed up women smiling
Michele Crumbaugh, 2023 Gala Chair, with Dr. Nancy Newhouse, Reception host