Buffalo Island Heroes recognized

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Town Crier News Staff

The Buffalo Island Leadership organization recognized area heroes in a special program Monday evening, June 16, at the Monette First Baptist Family Life Center.

Leadership Buffalo Island President Johnny Dunigan welcomed special guests and honorees to the program as Kima Stewart proceeded with the program.

2008 Buffalo Island Heros. Photo from left front: Deb Whited, Mrs. Pete Selby, Sandra Clark, Jewell Rolland, Edna Mae Freeman, Donna Wood, Mari Hayden and Perry Wood. Back row, from left: Tony Simpson, Shirley Roe, Barry Riley, Bernard Berry, Deb Dunigan, and Kaye Craig. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

"Last year we started a Buffalo Island Hero program to pay tribute to the many people who have overcome great obstacles and shown great strength and heroism," Stewart said. "These people have met many challenges in their lives. They remain happy even through sad times. We applaud their strength."

People who nominated the 12 Heroes were called on to tell about each individual and presented them with a commemorative trophy.

Leon Swihart nominated Floyd "Pete" Selby, now deceased.

"Pete was a World War II Purple Heart and Bronze Star honoree," Swihart said. "He was a retired teacher who continued to tutor students until his death. He was a double amputee that continued to be self sufficient in the face of pain and discomfort without letting adversity get the upper hand."

Dunigan presented the Buffalo Island Hero 2008 statue to Pete Selby's widow.

Caraway Mayor Barry Riley told about Bernard Berry.

"Even though Bernard had a stroke and heart attack he used his physical disability for the betterment of the Caraway community," Riley said. "He has been a Masonic Lodge secretary for 27 years and is a 32nd degree Scottish Rite recipient. Bernard is an officer in the Caraway Lions Club and also supports the Caraway Volunteer Ambulance Service."

"Tony Simpson is a fine Christian man and leader in the Leachville community," said Joe Hultquist. "He hasn't let the fact that he has had a leg amputated slow him down. He is one of the first people on the scene when someone needs help."

"Edna Mae Freeman is a very well known lady having served 44 years in public education as a teacher, principal and county administrator," said Barbara Suber. "She served 22 years on the Monette Housing Authority board. She has invested her entire life in supporting and encouraging others."

"Shirley Roe is a cancer survivor and a dear friend," said Mari Hayden. "She has kept her faith through all her medical ordeals and never lost hope. I commend her for her courage and her determination."

"Jewell Rolland is a cancer survivor who has beaten the odds twice and remains cheerful, upbeat and supportive," said Gilda Hultquist. "She has worked faithfully as the BIC cafeteria manager and made working with her a pleasure. You would never hear her complain even when he went through tough medical ordeals. She is an inspiration."

"Sandra Clark faced the tragedy of losing both of her parents and a nephew in a deadly car crash," said Phyllis McFarland. "She set a wonderful example for us all to follow. She maintained strength, perseverance and great faith. She reached out and helped others."

"Mari Hayden endured the loss of her only son, both parents and a handicapped brother in a short time," said Kima Stewart. "She continued to maintain a positive outlook and always encouraged others. She has a hug ready for everyone she sees and sincerely wants to know how you and your family are doing. She has been referred to as Leachville's own Mother Theresa, and I think she deserves that title."

"Deb Whited survived unbearable grief through the loss of both of her sons and her husband in only nine months time," Stewart said. "Her display of courage is extraordinary and inspiring. She has such a capacity to love and never misses an opportunity to lift people up and show that she cares. She has great faith and always shows great compassion for others."

"Kaye Craig donated one of her kidneys to her sister-in-law and best friend," Stewart said. "She stepped out in faith in the time of need. Her faith and generosity were rewarded when her husband Homer Craig was in desperate need for a kidney transplant himself and a donor came forward to do the same."

"Deb Dunigan unselfishly donated a kidney to Homer and changed his life forever," Kaye Craig said. "He was her boss and a family friend. Even though Homer was no blood relation she stepped forward to give the supreme gift of life. We will be forever grateful for her decision."

"Deb gave me back my life," Homer Craig said. "There are not enough words to express how much she means to me and my family. Deb, I love you."

Stewart praised Perry and Donna Wood for their courage and generosity during and after their son Dusty's young death.

"Perry and Donna have spearheaded a blood platelet ministry to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis," Stewart said. "They take blood donors to Memphis each month to give blood in the memory of their son Dusty. Over $1 million in platelets have been donated so far and they are determined to keep the ministry going.

"All of these recipients have shown the triumph of the human spirit in the greatest way," Stewart said. "The members of the Leadership Buffalo Island group take great pride in honoring them tonight and thanking them for the example they set to us all."

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