HINCKLEY – Hinckley resident Jerry Bahl said his greatest achievement has been being able to help people.
The community returned his favors Monday evening at Hinckley Village Hall and honored Bahl with the Citizen of the Year Award.
“You grow up here, you just take care of things [previous generations] did when you were a kid,” Bahl said.
Bahl is the first honoree since 2005. Village President James K. Roderick and his wife, Nora Gubbins, nominated him for his outstanding service and deeds, according to the certificate.
Bahl is the current president of Greenwood Cemetery, a current member of the Hinckley Lions Club, Hinckley Historical Society and American Legion and the former owner of a Texaco gas station.
“When you think of Hinckley, you think of Jerry,” Roderick said. “He works tirelessly to make Hinckley a better place to live for all of us.”
And to this day, he still hasn’t stopped. The former Hinckley volunteer firefighter still babysits his grandchildren and is a familiar face everywhere in Hinckley.
“He always made sure the sidewalks were plowed for the ladies who got their mail,” said Diane Auten, Bahl’s daughter. “He would just do that because it needed to be done, and they needed to be safe.”
“I’ve got to get my snowblower and do it again,” Bahl said.
Families and friends attended the honoring ceremony Monday and ate cake afterward at village hall.
Members of the community took some time to talk about what Bahl has done for the community.
“He’s got his priorities in the right order,” said Hinckley resident Kenny Bushnell. “I’ve known from experience: If you need a little help, you call Jerry, and he’s going to be there.”
Bahl moved to Hinckley when he was in the fourth grade. He served in the Marine Corps from 1952 to 1954. He served on the village board as a trustee for eight years, on the planning commission for eight years and the zoning board for eight years.
Bahl said he hasn’t slowed down yet because working is a vocation that keeps him going. Plus, he loves what he does.
“Work is relaxing to me, and it always has been,” he said. “If you don’t enjoy working, find something else you enjoy.”
Roderick said he plans to honor a resident each year with the Citizen of the Year Award as long as he is village president.
“Jerry is a long overdue recipient,” Roderick said.