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They may not be “life-long residents” of Oldham County, but many agree Duane and Anne Murner have already put a lifetime’s worth of effort into the community.
The Murners jointly received the Oldham Countian of the Year award Monday night.
The award is presented annually by Oldham Chamber and Economic Development and is a surprise to the recipient.
And surprised they were.
As 2011 recipient Kevin Jeffries finished his “clues” about the recipient, both sat open-mouthed at their table in seeming disbelief.
Duane even showed Anne a speech he had written honoring his former deputy judge/executive, Paula Gish, who he believed had won.
A teary Anne held the plaque as Duane called the surprise a “major gotcha.”
“John Black [former judge-executive] always told me the reason this event is so well-attended is because everyone comes thinking they’re going to win,” Duane joked. “Now we don’t have to come any more!”
This is the 49th presentation of the award, which recognizes passion, dedication and loyalty to the community.
Deana Epperly Karem, the chamber’s executive director, said the Murners exemplify those qualities.
“They treasure the history and tradition of the past, while inspiring others to think of the future of Oldham County and all it can be,” she said.
The Murners moved to Oldham County more than 30 years ago, along with their five children.
Since becoming residents, the couple has poured their time into a number of service and philanthropic projects.
Currently, Anne serves on the Oldham County Educational Foundation board. The OCEF is a non-profit that helps fund educational programs in Oldham County schools.
She’s been a member of the Crestwood Civic Club for 22 years and helps organize the club’s events, including the home holiday tour that funds the club’s scholarship program.
And, she is treasurer for the Oldham County Public Library.
Duane serves as vice-chair for the Oldham-La Grange Development Authority, which oversees development of Oldham Reserve.
He is also a former Oldham County judge-executive and magistrate.
Both are active in the Oldham County History Center, including its annual gala.
“It’s just extraordinary that they can be in so many places at once,” said Nancy Theiss, history center executive director. “You deserve an award every day.”
Theiss was one of several people recorded for a video tribute announcing the Murners as the award recipients at Monday’s banquet.
Gish served as a magistrate with Duane and as his deputy judge-executive.
“You guys are just terrific,” she said in the video. “Your leadership is second to none.”
Magistrate Steve Greenwell joked about the Murners not being life-long residents like many of the award’s recipients.
“While you may not have been born at Mallory Taylor hospital and lived in Oldham County all your life, you truly are Oldham countians,” he said.
Son-in-law Michael Reidy, owner of the Irish Rover Too in La Grange, said it is not only what they do for the community, but how they do it.
“One of the things I really love about Duane and Anne is their sense of fairness — their sense of duty and sense of kindness,” he said.
It is that character and commitment that earned Duane and Anne Murner the title of 2012 Oldham Countians of the Year.
View the video online — enter ocy2012 as the password.