Russ and Dody Clever named outstanding citizens

Dody and Russ Clever received the 2009 James P. Oliver Outstanding Citizenship Award from the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce. They were recognized for their community involvement and ability to make people laugh.

Russ and Dody Clever are used to performing in costume for their comedy routine Two Nuts and a Bolt. In the past they have entertained at the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner meeting. Thursday night they attended the event at Green Grove Gardens as civilians, and were called to the stage for another matter.

The Greencastle couple received the James P. Oliver Outstanding Citizenship Award, presented to someone involved in the community, enriching the lives of others and possessing a passion to serve.

"They follow a long lineage of humble and deserving individuals, all of which have left an indelible mark for generations to come," said Chamber emcee Bea Hoffman. "Russ and Dody are truly an iconic couple recognized everywhere in and around town."

The two have brought their Two Nuts routine to many events, including Relay for Life, American Cancer Society Duck Derby and at many venues locally and in the greater area. Russ initially paired with Frank Mowen as the other nut, and Lee Shank played piano. Dody then stepped in and today Trevor Timmons is accompanist.

Dody has written the script for many Old Home Week pageants, incorporating comedy into the history of the community. Both are heavily involved in OHW activities, and Russ is a fixture at the unofficial opening. "One cannot imagine that without Russ's contagious smile and enthusiasm," said Hoffman.

The Clevers were nominated by past recipients Wayne and Sharon Baumbaugh. On accepting the award, Dody thought she understood. "This is payback," she said. "I used to work for those people."

She added the recognition was wonderful. "When you win and didn't know your hat was in the ring, that's terrific."

Russ said he couldn't hide his nerves behind makeup that night. He grew up with Jim Oliver and was shocked and honored to be selected to receive an award named in memory of his friend. His loves were his family, God and country and Greencastle. "I love it so much we're both corny about it," he said. Emotion filled his face and voice as he continued, "Thank you and God bless you all. For once in my life I'm stuck for words. And that's a true story."

A year in review

David Rajtik, president of the Board of Directors, credited Chamber members with carrying the organization forward in a year of change, marked most recently by the resignation of  Executive Director Bill Gour.

"We understand and respect his decision and offer him and his family our best wishes."

The year 2009 brought challenges and opportunities, he said, and thanked the membership committee for coordinating the banquet details at the last minute, and the Board of Directors for making great contributions all year.

The economy touched the Chamber as it did all of America, Rajtik said. And with Norfolk Southern planning a terminal in Greencastle, that also offered a timeline for everyone to focus on the future. "This is a great opportunity for the business community and municipalities to sit down together and plan. Chamber membership allows each of us to be an active participant to promote this community. All it takes is a clear vision and desire to succeed."

The event was sponsored by Tower Bank, the reception by F&M Trust, and the entertainment, Cumberland Valley School of Music, by Franklin County Visitors Bureau.