Humble and kind; tough and stern
51st Citizen of the Year a man of faith, family and community
From a position of authority as a former Iowa State Patrol trooper to a man of kindness offering many comfort in their last hours, this year's Citizen of the Year Joe Skow was noted by those who know him best as a man of many admirable traits.
Skow accepted the honor Tuesday evening at the Clay County Fair and Events Center in front of his family, friends and community members. The role and importance of family was especially prominent in Skow's remarks to the audience noting his wife's "awesome support" through their 43 years of marriage and his wish that his father and sister, who passed away six weeks ago, could be there to share in the celebration.
"All my life I have been kind of a nobody," Skow said. "To be up here and be associated with these great past recipients is an honor that is hard for me to imagine. One of my goals in life was to make my parents and family proud, you all helped me get one notch closer to doing that."
Skow's mother, Dorothy Skow-Cosh, expressed her joy in seeing her son named Citizen of the Year.
"I am just very proud of him," Skow-Cosh said. "He has always been such a good boy. He has never caused me any trouble, and he has always put me first besides his wife, I am next. I was pretty surprised when I found out. I would like to say Joe is so much like his father. His father was such a good influence. I hope I helped a little bit."
The evening began with Daily Reporter Publisher Paula Buenger, the event's emcee, welcoming the community and recognizing past Citizens, some who were in attendance. Buenger offered a quotation from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. noting how everyone has the opportunity to be great through service.
"A heart full of grace," Buenger said. "A soul generated by love. Those are powerful words. The reverend succinctly captured what the great humanitarians of our time know. Serving others takes a special heart and a special character. This year's honoree, Joe Skow, has those attributes in spades."
During his 30 years in the Spencer community, Skow has been involved with law enforcement, a Spencer Hospice volunteer, a back stage worker and board member at Spencer Community Theatre, an active member of First Congregational Church and a member of the Clay County Board of Supervisors. He is also known to offer a helping hand to many in the community without prompting.
"There are a lot of opportunities in life for us to step in and assist someone or an organization," said Connie Goeken, former executive director at Spencer Community Theatre. "We don't do that as often as we would like because we have other things going on. That's the thing about Joe, he never really had to be asked. He is really proactive in serving other people and meeting needs where they occur, in the very best tradition of someone who is selfless, never asking for recognition. I think this was hard for him to be in front of people and be thanked."
"He is humble and strong," First Congregational Church Rev. Tom Van Tassell said. "There is a physical strength, but there is also an inner strength of spirit I see in him. His faithfulness and his willingness to be there is important. His humility and his heart for this community make him deserving of this honor."
First Congregational Church Rev. Wendy Van Tassell noted Skow's accessibility as an essential trait in his success in his various community endeavors.
"He has such a natural way of connecting with people and finding a common thread to make them feel special," Wendy Van Tassell said. "It takes a sensitivity where the focus isn't on yourself, it is really on the person. He seems to be natural with that. It is also his willingness to consistently help. Those are things I really admire about him."
Skow briefly reflected on how his work in the community has impacted him personally.
"I would have to say some of the most meaningful work I have done is with hospice because I met some people who became really close friends," Skow said. "In the time I spent with them, we really got to know each other. The first year after I retired from the patrol, I helped build a Habitat for Humanity house. We spent the whole summer and that was a really fun project.