It's not like Thomas A. Zeak goes out looking for awards.

It's not like Thomas A. Zeak goes out looking for awards.

They just seem to have a way of finding him.

The decorated Korean War veteran, amateur archeologist and retired physical therapist has one more prize to add to his lengthy list: The Anna Mildred Henderson Award, presented April 18 by the Northwest Civic Association.

Anna Henderson helped found the NWCA in 1967.

Zeak, 79, said he was humbled by the tribute.

"Thank you so much for a very beautiful award," said Zeak, a Clintonville resident.

"I can't thank you enough."

The accolades - some in award form, some in kind gestures - have spanned almost an entire lifetime, Zeak said.

He did two stints in the U.S. military - two years in the Army during the Korean War and, later, 22 years in the Navy, where he served as a physical therapist.

Zeak said he even had an opportunity to chaperone Marilyn Monroe when she visited soldiers in Camp Casey in Korea.

A member of the Boy Scouts of America for 68 years, Zeak is known as the "arrowhead man" by students throughout the country.

He is an avid arrowhead maker and collector, and teaches children how to make them.

While Zeak was growing up in Sylvan Hills, Pa., a Native American taught him basic wilderness skills.

But it was an archeologist who sparked his interest in making arrowheads.

"It was so easy I said, 'Gee, I could teach people that,' " Zeak said.

"So that gave me the inspiration to start a program for children."

He's still teaching children, 32 years later.

The NWCA gives the award for community service to an individual or organization in Franklin County who has provided outstanding volunteer service that improves local neighborhoods.

Zeak's daughter, Lee, nominated him.

"He's done so many things for so many people," she said. "He's very deserving of it."

John Ehlers, president of the civic association, said Zeak fits the bill.

"I think it's a lifetime of dedication to others," Ehlers said.

"We all have what we want to see as full and complete lives," he said.

"It looks like he's definitely had a full and complete life of dedication to others," Ehlers said of Zeak.

"That's what makes him special."

"He starts telling you these stories and you can't imagine a single person has gone through these life events." Ehlers said.

That includes a time when Zeak was stationed in Japan, and a poisonous snake crawled into his sleeping bag.

"I think I was faster than the snake," he said.

Well, not quite. He was bitten and fell critically ill.

Nevertheless, like so many times before, Zeak recovered and pursued a life of trying to help others as often as he could.

"I've lived a wonderful life," he said. "So many things have happened to me."