Chelgren, Fye named Man, Woman of the Year

Thomas R. Chelgren

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Thomas R. Chelgren was named the 2011 Punxsutawney Man of the Year at Tuesday’s Groundhog Banquet.

Bob “Oral” Roberts, the 2010 Man of the Year, said Chelgren is a Punxsy native and a graduate of PAHS and Jeff Tech.

 Roberts said it’s almost easier to describe what services and activities in which Chelgren has not been involved, but, “In everything he has done, he has served our community in a very selfless and humble manner, always avoiding the spotlight or any praise for his enormous efforts.”

Chelgren led fund-raising efforts for the Domestic Violence Shelter Task Force through a charity auction and dinner to build a needed addition onto the shelter, and was a long-active member of the Elk Run Volunteer Fire Company, as well as a past department chief. He still volunteers each year with the Pizza & Prevention fund-raiser.

With the Punxsy Rotary Club, Chelgren has worked behind the scenes on the annual multi-phasic blood screening programs, chairing it for several years, and the annual Rotary Radio auctions that have raised large amounts of funding to benefit about 40 community charities and non-profit groups.

Since 2007, Chelgren has spearheaded the Circle of Trees program in Barclay Square, which, under his leadership, continues to expand. He has also served as a counselor to incoming male Rotary foreign exchange students and on the Northwest Pa. Districts committee for outgoing exchange students. 

Since his days in Punxsy, he attended IUP in the Safety Sciences curriculum and has been a member of the First English Lutheran Church, serving on its council.

Chelgren’s loves include his wife, Nancy, and daughter Laura, as well as bowling and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Professionally, he served Pennsylvanians since 1984 as a career trooper in the Pennsylvania State Police, and currently holds the rank of sergeant and is the supervisor of criminal investigations for Troop C.

Chelgren said for once, he was speechless.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my family for their support to allow me to have the time to serve Punxsutawney,” he said. “I truly find Punxsutawney a fabulous place to live and raise a family, and bring positive change to this community.”

He said he had no idea he was this year’s honoree, “not until they began announcing the activities and organizations ... that matched up with me. Then all of a sudden, I realized that they were matching up too much with me, and it actually shocked me, and my pulse began to run fast.”

“This is wonderful, but there are so many more deserving people in the Punxsutawney area that are for deserving than me,” he said. “For years, I’ve watched the various methods that were employed to bring in the various family members to the banquet. I must say that my wife, Nancy, and daughter. Laura, conned me very well to conceal why some other family members were here. The announcement shocked me 100 percent.”

Charlotte S. Fye

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The 2011 Punxsutawney Woman of the Year — Charlotte S. Fye — almost didn’t make it to the annual Groundhog Banquet because she wanted to spend a night at home resting on the couch.
Lisa Walker, the 2010 Woman of the Year, read Fye’s many accomplishments over the years.

“Although she has contributed tirelessly and generously to many organizations, civic projects and charitable drives over the years, her focus has always been her desire to make a difference in the lives of others,” Walker said in introducing Fye.

Over the past year, Fye served as the coordinator of the Support the Troops project sponsored by the Jefferson County chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees (PASR). Those duties included creating deposit boxes, signs and flyers to prompt residents to donate toiletries, snacks, health and beauty aids and other items that the soldiers in Afghanistan have requested.

After setting up collection sites in Punxsy, Brookville, Big Run, Reynoldsville and Brockway, Fye enlisted volunteers to help sort and pack more than 50 gift boxes for troops before the holidays.

Her other services to PASR in 2010 centered around shopping for, packing and delivering gift baskets to senior members of the organization.

She is also the co-editor of the chapter newsletter and serves on several committees to further PASR’s goals of meeting the needs of school retirees and serving the community.

Last year, she was the co-head of the “Thank the Troops” project, which resulted in the collection and sending of cards, letters and notes of appreciation to the local Stryker Brigade prior to the unit’s return home.

When she is not working on PASR activities, Fye continues to serve in several key positions in the First Baptist Church (ABW), as chairperson of the Board of Deacons; president of the local chapter of the American Baptist Women; donating a great deal of her energy and time, as well as her personal finances, to mission projects; representing her church at district, regional and state conferences; and serving as a liaison to other ABW groups in western Pennsylvania.

Fye is also the head of the kitchen committee, coordinates funeral dinners and actively helps other church organizations with suppers, fund-raising projects and special events, such as the 5-Day Club for children and the church’s movie nights.

For the past 15 years, she has been in charge of the church’s popular lasagna sale, which has earned a great deal of money that is directly contributed to national and international mission programs.

In addition to those responsibilities, Fye has been deeply committed to the Punxsutawney Theatre Arts Guild Inc., as treasurer, leading the group’s box office volunteers and assisting with lobby activities, costumes, props and other phases of PTAG’s three productions each year.
Even though she is retired after more than three decades as a teacher in local elementary schools, Fye volunteers at Parkview Elementary and assists teachers with clerical tasks so they may have more time with their classes.
Another area of community life that has benefited from Fye’s support is the Punxsutawney Memorial Library.
For many years, she volunteered her talents to ensure the success of Library Days each summer.
Not only did she enlist and schedule all the workers, she has reported for day-long duties, organizing, supervising and rolling up her sleeves to work whenever she has been needed.
Finally, Fye is a very active member of Delta Kappa Gamma International, an organization devoted to the promotion of education. She has served on various committees and willingly assumes responsibility for any tasks for which her support is requested.

Fye has also been involved with Girl Scouts, Young Women’s Club, the formative years of the Groundhog Festival Committee, the Progressive Study Club, PTA and PTO.

“We’ve lived here 45 1/2-years, and Punxsy has become our home,” Fye said, also citing her loving husband, Terry A. Fye, family and many friends.

“They’ve supported and encouraged me, and they were there when I needed someone to do something for me,” she said. “The people of Punxsy are really great, and I would like to share this honor with all of you.”

Following the banquet, Fye said she didn’t think that it would be her, and that when she heard the list of her accomplishments and activities, she wasn’t sure when she had the time to get it all done.

“I guess it is more amazing than I thought. Sometimes, you just do what you have to do,” she said.

“It’s not just me; it’s everyone else who assist in me in the many projects and organizations I have the privilege to participate in,” Fye said. “The honor goes to everyone, because you can’t do it all yourself.”