- Cullman, Alabama

March 31, 2013

Times reveals Unsung Heroes

Staff Reports
The Cullman Times

The Cullman Times presented its annual list of Unsung Heroes Thursday afternoon at a luncheon held at the Elks Lodge in Cullman.

These deserving individuals were nominated by readers and chosen for their dedication to our community. Below is a portion of the letter submitted nominating this year's Unsung Heroes.

Marie Godeke — Nominated by Elsie McCoy

I nominate Marie Godeke as I feel she is most worthy of this recognition for the volunteer service she has given in various programs in the community that help others.

Marie and her husband relocated to Cullman from Indiana many years ago with one of the local plants. Even while working Marie was busy visiting the sick and shut-ins as she could. Since not living near to help in the care of her mother, she felt she could give this service to others who needed help.  

She has been very active in helping in different community services through the years.   She helped with the Church’s Hispanic Ministry for years. Due to some health problems she has had to cut back. In spite of this she remains as active as she can visiting shut-ins, helping in the church and other things serving her Lord in any way she can.  

She and her husband share many things from their garden with friends and neighbors. She collects cold drink tabs and takes to the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham that assists parents that have have sice children and need a place to stay while child is in the hospital. She also collects used postage stamps to send to a correctional clinic to be used by their residents in cleaning them up and using in various ways. Also various labels from cans are saved to send to the Red Bird mission in Ky.

She is a very modest person. I feel this would give her a much needed boost at this time.

I feel Marie is MOST deserving of this honor!

Margot Tanner — Nominated by Berta Pylant

I nominate Margot Tanner as I feel she is most deserving of this recognition for all her volunteer services she has given to this community.  

Margot relocated to Cullman with her late husband John, who was a native of Cullman,  when he retired from the Air Force in 1974.  

She translates  old German documents and  German correspondence needed for our museum, any elected official,  and for our sister city in Germany, Frankweiler. She is their official interpreter  when representatives of our Sister City in Germany come to visit Cullman. She does an awesome job interpreting day and evening,  and she does it in a gracious manner.

She is always helping  Germans,  local  widows,  and senior ladies in  many ways as needed.  She does it in a loving and humbly way.  

She tutored some of the German children who relocated here with their parents from REHAU for several years. Their parents appreciated all her help in school, and they graduated from Cullman High School thanks to the seeds that Margot planted in those children. Some of those students and parents  still  stay  in contact with her.

She helped in the First United Methodist Church Hispanic Ministry as a tutor, and also taught art to the children and youth. She was a great inspiration to those less fortunate children and youth.  She has been helping  the First United Methodist Church Music Dept. organizing their music material since 1974.

I strongly feel Margot Tanner is most deserving of this recognition as an Unsung Hero.  

Grover Reeves — Nominated by Martha Burchell

Grover Reeves has been an active force in providing care, food, church construction and generally an example of the Christian faith for many years in Cullman Alabama.

Grover is 83 years old and has been "involved" in the betterment of Cullman most of his life. For many years he has been as a member of the Lions Club of Cullman. When a project (fund raiser) was needed he suggested and helped to implement the fish fry fund raiser that is now a major funding event for the Lions Club.

About 20 years ago he saw a need to provide meals on Thanksgiving Day for those who might not otherwise have a Thanksgiving meal. He joined his idea with First Baptist Church's desire to serve the Cullman community and what we know now as an "event" was born. Since that time thousands of Thanksgiving meals have been planned, prepared and delivered under the leadership of Grover Reeves. Each year many of the local churches will have a visit from Grover Reeves asking not only for their financial support but for their physical help to prepare, serve and deliver Cullman's Thanksgiving meal. His passion for this project is contagious.

Mr. Reeves has served on mission trips from Alabama to Maine and places in between, even to the California. During these trips he not only shared the gospel message of helping your fellowman but physically helped to build church, repair churches and homes that were on the agenda of the Mission Board.

Big Oak Ranch, John Coyle's outreach to children at risk, has received the benefit of the care and concern of Grover Reeves as he established and assists with a fish fry for them each fall as a fund raiser.

When the Kiwanis Club of Cullman was seeking help in establishing "The Walk of Flags" in the Depot Park, Grover Reeves was there to purchase three flags for those he wanted to honor or remember.

I have only scratched the surface of the impact that Grover Reeves has had on our community. It is with admiration and respect that I submit his name into consideration for this prestigious honor.

Lummie Washington Speakman — Nominated by Josh Speakman

The individual I would like to nominate for your unsung hero’s recognition is Lummie Washington Speakman. I have been privileged enough to know this wonderful man since the day I was born; I am grateful everyday to call him my friend and hold great honor in calling him my grandfather.

It was Easter 1969 Mr. Speakman found his purpose when he was called to preaching the word of God and ministering to those who know Him not yet seek His grace. For years to follow, Mr. Speakman hosted a Christian radio program, organized/hosted church revivals all over the state, ministered to the lost, enlightened those in darkness, operated a church and congregation, counseled the sick and elderly, made house calls to those who couldn’t attend service or had no way of transportation, provided financial assistance to those sincerely in need, fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and raised not only his two children but also stood as a father figure to many children who lacked such in their home life. He worked 50+ hours to provide for his family and in the evening and on Saturdays he dedicated himself to helping those he felt inspired through faith, prayer, and love to do so.  

Despite this exhausting schedule, he remained invigorating and thrived to be a blessing to everyone he met.

Mr. Speakman suffered a heart attack in 1985 which almost claimed his life. He was ordered by the doctors to take it easy and rest more, not to burden himself with so much stress, and eat healthier. He still worked to support his household and continued preaching to his congregation.

Despite all the hardships and obstacles Mr. Speakman has faced and been forced to overcome, one thing has not wavered… his faith.

When his health permitted, he single-handedly kept maintenance and upgrade of the church and its facilities never accepting payment for his services. He has opened up his home and church to those seeking refuge while down on their luck, trying to escape from an aggressive relationship and/or a caustic routine. These are just a few of the countless attributes that qualify Mr. Lummie Washington Speakman as the model character of your 2012 Unsung Hero’s recognition.

Stella Bozeman and Melba Palys — Nominated by Glenda N.Wright

I would like to nominate two ladies that are sisters for the Unsung Hero Award.  Mrs. Stella Bozeman, left, and Mrs. Melba Palys. I couldn't nominate one without nominating the other because they work together all the time. They could be called the Sisters of Charity. They do a tremendous amount of community charity work for Cullman, surrounding communities, and the State of Alabama.

Mrs. Bozeman served as the lunchroom manager at the Welti Elementary School for 33 years. Mrs. Palys taught school at Holly Pond, Baileyton, and Parkside schools for 25 years. They helped many children and parents in their job capacity, but they also did many activities to raise money for the schools.

Stella and Melba have helped volunteers organize, work, prepare and cook the food at the Welti Elementary School Chicken Supper for over 35 years. The suppers have raised thousands of dollars for the school. They worked weeks on it without any compensation. They have done this even though they both have retired from the school system.

These two ladies have worked on the fund raisers at the Welti Presbyterian Church. They cooked, baked, worked, and made articles to sell at the bazaars. They made food for events, funerals, and any occasions that came up at the church.

Mrs. Bozeman and Mrs. Palys have worked on numerous activities which have raised thousands of dollars for the Children's Hospital of Alabama. They helped with silent auctions, collected articles for drawings, collected articles for prizes, and worked game day activities at the Holly Pond School. They have done all of this out of love for the sick and injured children in

Besides their charity work, Stella and Melba have cared for family members that have had health problems or have been ill. They have spent countless hours taking care of these family members in need of their loving care.

Mrs. Bozeman and Mrs. Palys have gone out of their way to help anyone or any worthy cause.

They are truly Unsung Heroes.  Their work with schools, churches, clubs, and the hospital have helped a lot of people all over the community, county, and state. They have done all of this out of love for other people and wanting to make a difference in other people's lives. They have done all of this without recognition or compensation.

I respectfully ask that you recognize these ladies for all of their work and dedication by honoring them with the Unsung Hero Award.