SYCAMORE – Ninety-nine years ago, John Ovitz’s father, a physician in Genoa, brought his mother in a two-horse sleigh to the local hospital where he was born.
Almost a century later, Ovitz humbly stood before a room full of Sycamore Rotary Club members as the guest of honor.
Known throughout the Sycamore community as a talented physician and generous philanthropist, 99-year-old “Doc” Ovitz received many thanks and praise at Wednesday’s Rotary Club meeting, at which he was honored for his lifetime of service to the club and the community.
“He’s beloved by many,” said Barry Schrader, who gave a photographic presentation of Ovitz’s life at the meeting.
Ovitz took over his father’s physician’s practice at 427 S. Main St. in Sycamore in 1946 and helped patients in town for decades. In addition to the Sycamore Rotary, he was a member of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the local school board.
The club’s district governor, Bob Hammon, presented Ovitz with the Rotary Foundation District Service Award. The group designated its award for Rotarian of the Year as the John W. Ovitz Rotarian of the Year award.
Ovitz was overwhelmed by the reception.
“It’s a great honor,” said Ovitz. “That’s all I can say.”
His wife, Jane, said the impact of the award and recognition still hadn’t set in for him.
“It takes awhile to absorb these things at 99,” she said.
Ovitz joined the Sycamore Rotary Club in 1951 and served as the club’s president from 1966 to ’67.
Schrader said Ovitz is best known for his philanthropy with community causes such as Sycamore’s log cabin project and Pumpkin Festival.
But Schrader said one of Ovitz’s most commendable traits is his modesty.
“He doesn’t broadcast [his accomplishments] or boast,” said Schrader.
Ovitz said he recently attempted to resign from the club because he wouldn’t be able to attend as many meetings, which is an important part of being a member. But Sycamore Rotary Club President Eric Tice announced that he would not accept Ovitz’s resignation, but rather he was going to make him a lifetime honorary member.
“He embodies the spirit of service to his community,” said Tice.
Tice said the club’s decision to recognize Ovitz and his accomplishments over the course of 99 years was an obvious choice.
“Any organization that has someone for that many years, he deserves to be honored,” said Tice. “That’s what we do as Rotarians.”