By Vinde Wells
The look on Leona Wilken’s face was one of total surprise June 6 as she made her way to the stage at German Valley Days after she was announced as the 2014 Most Valuable Person.
“I can’t believe it,” she told the cheering audience as she got a hug from emcee Donna Smith. “I don’t remember that I did all that.”
Smith said three persons were nominated for German Valley’s MVP this year, making the judges’ decision difficult.
Smith described Wilken as “someone who helps wherever needed.”
“Perhaps her greatest contribution is her work with the German Valley Food Pantry,” Smith said. “Several years ago when the pantry was threatened with closure, she and a fellow volunteer stepped up and took over its management. The two of them save the pantry and continue to operate it today.”
Wilken’s volunteer activities have included Cub Scouts, Girls Scouts, and 10 years of volunteering at FHN Memorial Hospital through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
“She was for many years active in the German Valley historical Society, assuming an important role in the Oktoberfests and Holiday Teas the group used to sponsor,” Smith said.
Wilken assists with the local XYZ Senior Citizens Group.
“She is a member of the German Valley Lions Club Booster Committee, each year helping with German Soup Supper…contributing her famous egg salad for those popular sandwiches,” Smith said.
Wilken is also an active member of Adeline Zion Evangelical Church where she plays the piano and organ, taught Sunday School, and served on committees.
She also supports the local men’s softball league.
“You will find her seated on the bleachers in most any weather, sometimes huddled under a blanket, when her favorite team is playing,” Smith continued.
Besides all that, Wilken was a farm wife until she and her husband moved to German Valley. They raised three children and are active in family activities.
Friday night activities on the stage at German Valley Days included the naming of this year’s Little Miss and Mr. German Valley.
Following a dance number and extemporaneous questions, the judges chose Rudy Diduch, the daughter of Denny and Jessie Diduch, and Cole Zipse, the son of Jeff and Cris Zipse, for the awards.