The Rotary Club of Westerville named John Robbins its 2014 A. Monroe Courtright Community Service Award winner at its club meeting Thursday, June 5.
Named for the former publisher of The Public Opinion, a predecessor of ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion, the award is given to an outstanding leader, volunteer or community member each year.
Robbins, 80, has volunteered for years across the community. He served for nearly 20 years on the Westerville Public Library Board of Trustees, has put in stints on the Westerville Visitors Bureau, and volunteered for Mount Carmel St. Ann's Hospital and Westerville Habitat for Humanity. The owner of Robbins Insurance Agency, he's been actively involved with the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce. And he has been involved with the First Presbyterian Church for decades.
On top of serving all those local causes, Robbins is a longtime volunteer with the Westerville Area Resource Ministry food pantry.
"I think the primary reason that I got that award was that I've volunteered for the past 14 years with WARM," Robbins said. "WARM was getting the (Rotary's) organizational award, and some people there nominated me for the individual award, which was very nice."
Like many who make a career of volunteering, Robbins isn't interested in applause for his work. And even after receiving the award, he's not too concerned with having his work known.
"If I never got (recognition), it would be just fine with me," he said. "It was nice, and it made my daughter feel good, so that was good. But it's a nice thing, and I appreciate it. ... One thing I don't like to do is blow my horn. I don't like to do that."
For Robbins, the pay for the work comes from knowing he's helped other members of the community.
"I just like to help people when I can," he said. "It gives me a certain amount of personal satisfaction. I don't want any recognition for it, I just like to do that, so I do."
Now a retired widower, it might seem that Robbins has plenty of free time. But he's quick to dissuade that notion.
"I'll explain that in one sentence and you'll understand immediately: I have grandchildren," he laughed, noting that he sat through two baseball doubleheaders last weekend.
Robbins said he expects his next challenge will be to, "Start using the word 'no,' " to rein in some of his responsibilities. He seems unconvinced he will be successful.
And despite shying away from the spotlight, Robbins admitted he feels honored to join the distinguished list of past Courtright Award winners.
"It's humbling because of the nature of the group that made the award," he said. "No service organization that I know of has done more than the Rotary clubs for the Westerville community through the years. And it's humbling to be recognized by somebody like that. It really is."
Past winners of the Courtright Award for public service to Westerville include:
1977 -- Eddie Birchem; 1978 -- Dr. Walter Stout; 1979 -- Maurice and Dorothy McVay; 1980 -- Sanders Frye and James Tressler; 1981 -- Morris Briggs; 1982 -- R.T. "Sarge" Beum; 1983 -- Mary Bailey; 1984 -- Blendon Grange and Mary Davis; 1985 -- Edwin "Dubbs" Roush and James "Buzz" Cockerell; 1986 -- Sue Ann Norton; 1987 -- Richard H. Gorsuch; 1988 -- Jane W. Bradford; 1989 -- Don W. Miller; 1990 -- Joe "Grand paw" Bernowski and Dwight "Smokey" Ballinger; 1991 -- Ned Mosher; 1992 -- Dr. Bill Freeman; 1993 -- Edna Zech; 1994 -- Marge Day Lewis; 1995 -- Paul Askins; 1996 -- Dick Rano; 1997 -- Charlotte Walker; 1998 -- Jo Ann Davidson; 1999 -- Kathy Cocuzzi; 2000 -- Vinny Herwig; 2001 -- Jim Grissinger; 2002 -- Garrett Brusco; 2003 -- C. William Swank; 2004 -- Rich Siegel; 2005 -- Westerville Caring & Sharing; 2006 -- Diane Fosselman; 2007 -- Joanne VanSant; 2008 -- Renee Kropat; 2009 -- Bill Merriman; 2010 -- Alice Watson; 2011 -- Damon "Chip" Wetterauer Jr.; 2012 -- Sheila Tompos; 2013 -- Janet Withers.