By Woodrow Polston
MEXICO—The Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet last Friday evening at the Mexico Elks Lodge. Among the recipients of this year’s awards were Darren Smiley, who received the G. Andy Runge Ambassador Award; Children’s Therapy School, that received the Civic Award; Matt Pilger, who received the Excellence in Tourism Award; Williams Family Support Center, who received the Philanthropic Achievement Award; Sarah Gleeson, who received the Educator of the Year Award; Dr. Ayanna Shivers, who received the President’s Award; and Sterling Oliver, who received the Col. C. R. Stribling Community Service Award. Ahead of the awards dinner, Oliver requested that he be introduced with a roast by a friend.
“I said to Sterling, I have known you for over 40 years, and I can’t think of one naughty thing that you have ever done,” said his friend, Dan Erdel. “So Sterling sent me a card with a list on it, of all the naughty things he had done in his life, Erdel explained to the crowd. No.1: When I was in the eighth grade, I smoked a cigarette. No. 2: When I was a senior in high school, I skipped school one day on the senior walk out. No. 3: When I was a junior in college, but not yet 21, I drank a beer. Sterling, Sterling, Sterling, I’m afraid to tell you partner, but you are not roasting material. You might as well have asked me to roast Mother Teresa,” he added.
The Col. C. R. Stribling Community Service Award is the top presentation of the seven awards given during the evening. The Stribling Award is given to an individual who demonstrates exemplary efforts on behalf of the community of Mexico for an extended period. The award recipient is nominated by past presidents of the Chamber.
“Sterling is quiet and unassuming as he goes about the work of the community,” said Mike Bunge, president of Central Bank of Audrain County. “He is not looking for notoriety; he volunteers because he cares about this community and the people that live in it,” he added.
After much laughter, resulting from Erdel’s mild roast, and memories of his longtime friendship with Sterling, Oliver made his way up to give some remarks.
“I am thankful for Dan, he has served me well as a friend,” said Oliver. “Thanks to the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce, and all those who deem me worthy of this recognition. Thanks to my family, for supporting my adventures in volunteerism. And to my mother, who has tolerated me nine months longer than anyone else on the planet. I would also like to thank Central Bank, my employer for more than 40 years,” he added.
Oliver and his family are longtime residents of Mexico, Missouri. Oliver is most recognizable to the Mexico community from his long tenure with Central Bank of Audrain County, where he started as the assistant vice president and cashier in August 1981. He recently retired as the executive vice president of Central Bank in 2019.
Oliver ended his speech with an old Quaker proverb: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I will not pass this way again.”