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‘Citizen of the Year’ goes to a surprised Brad Bay
Brad Bay 1
Russ Atkinson ap-plauds a shocked and surprised Brad Bay af-ter the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce named him its Citizen of the Year for 2019 at Saturday night’s annual Chamber Ban-quet. Russ and Brad’s wife Donna, right, and other friends and rela-tives told Brad that Russ was the Citizen of the Year in order to convince him to come to the banquet. —David Krier photos

BOSCOBEL - Brad Bay hadn’t planned on attending last Saturday night’s annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet, but when his wife Donna told him that their good friend Russ Atkinson was the recipient, well, he didn’t have much of a choice. However, that wasn’t exactly true. In fact, it was just the opposite. Brad would be receiving that prestigious award.

“Tracy Atkinson called me and told me that Brad was receiving the award, but that it had to be kept confidential,” Donna said. “She said they wanted our family there, but that it had to be a secret. No one could call Brad and congratulate him or post anything on Facebook.”

They also had to figure out a way to get Brad to the bowling alley Saturday night without letting the cat out of the bag.

“I’m not sure who exactly came up with the idea, but I told Brad that Russ had received the award and we had to be there,” Donna recalls. “Russ had all our children in school and we do a lot of things together.”

There’s also the little connection that Brad and Donna’s son, Lawrence, is married to Russ and Tracy’s daughter, Allie.

“That’s why it wasn’t too hard to convince him to go,” Donna said.

Still, on Saturday afternoon just hours before the banquet, Brad still had his reservations. He asked his good friend and longtime softball teammate Roger Thompson if he was going to the banquet. Roger said he was and the die was cast.

“Roger told me Brad didn’t have a clue and we were just cracking up,” Donna said. “We had to keep lying to him to pull it off.”

When Boscobel Bowl & Banquet owner Stacey Karsten began reading the winning nomination Brad sat attentively and listened. However, when Stacey mentioned that the next Citizen of the Year attended Wauzeka High School and helped build the dugouts for the baseball field, Brad started to squirm. The jig was up.

“He told everyone, ‘My wife lied to me,’” Donna said, “but we had to keep up the charade as long as we could. He was definitely surprised, well deserved, but surprised. I don’t think he’ll ever believe me again.”
Brad Bay 2
Once the shock wore off, Brad Bay was hap-py to receive the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award from Stacey Karsten.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Brad said after receiving the award. “How about that family of mine?”

Indeed. In fact, Donna had convinced 47 family members to attend, including her son Lincoln from Michigan, using the ruse that they would be coming for her birthday, which was Friday.

Sometimes, timing is everything.

Following is Stacey Karsten’s speech:


The Outstanding Citizen Award is sponsored by the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce and established in memory of Chuck Yahn, a Boscobel businessman who was a church, school, and community booster.

Our community has many devoted people who give endless hours in community service year after year.  It is an honor to receive this nomination.  Once a name is received, the nominee will remain eligible for the next three years.

Each year, Boscobel residents submit nominations for this award.  We are privileged to have so many people dedicated to our community. We acknowledge their devotion, service, and support to the Boscobel area and its people.  At this time we would like to recognize and say "thank you" to this years' new nominees:

Sally Achenbach

Gary Young

Pamela Cashman

Joel Leonard

This year I have been asked to represent Boscobel by giving this award.   In my opinion this individual makes Boscobel a lot like the "Mythical Town of Mayberry North Carolina in the Andy Griffith show."  Like Andy, the Sheriff who takes the time to take care of anyone, and everyone in town, who is in need of help. 

This person was born in Crawford County and attended Wauzeka High School.  The school had a banner that stated "It takes a whole village to raise a child."

I believe that he took that statement to heart.  He has been very active in his church by ushering, being on the building committee, and working the chicken BBQ.  Participates in the "Men of Christ" conference.  He volunteer coached youth softball, baseball, and basketball teams and sponsored many of the teams.  He is a "regular" at as many high school athletic events as his busy schedule allows him. 

He regularly donates to benefits on behalf of a family or cause that is in need.  He helped build the dugouts for the baseball field and with the field improvements.  He built the base for the Gays Mills Legion flag display. 

The writer of his letter of  recommendation called him "A Humble Man of Integrity" who acts on his faith in God and the kindness of his heart, clearing snow for people unable to, contributing to charities, and always willing to reach out, to those in need with a smile. "God, Family, Community, first, second, third" is his motto.

He and his wife of 34 years had a stormy start to their marriage, literally. Quoting the folk singer Gordon Lightfoot (singer writer of the song Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald), "When the Gales of November come early."  Their wedding day was preceded by a week of very nice weather only to get a good dose of Mother Nature.  On Friday night, November 8th 1985 it began to snow, and continued to  snow throughout the night and into the next day.  Then the wind began to blow and temperatures dropped. 

We had an "old fashioned" blizzard, quoting my mother.  Many could not make their wedding due to the weather.  All was well, since he married the "Rock," The Rock of Gibraltar that is.  He and his wife Donna have raised four children—Dana, Lawrence, Lincoln and Luke. Their work ethic, faith, love, and family values have been passed on to their children. 

I can't think of any other person that is as calm, cool, collected, understanding, and helpful as this years recipient—Mr. Brad Bay.