Doenges earns honor

ST. MARYS — With tears and moments of reflection and song, a county agency recognized the county’s top senior citizen Tuesday during its annual celebration.

Vernon Doenges was named the 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year during the Auglaize County Council on Aging’s annual celebration of National Senior Center Month.

“Thank you, that’s all I can say, thank you,” Doenges said. “I can’t express how I feel, it just hits you. I just want you to know I appreciate all of this stuff, and I don’t have a whole lot to say.”

To sum up his thanks, Doenges sang, “Why Don’t We Do This More Often” for the crowd.

“You exemplify what true aging is,” Auglaize Council on Aging Director Christina Roby told him. “You’ve kept active and busy, and that’s the reason you’re still active and busy at 90 because you participate, you engage in life.

That’s what’s important.

“... We all have things we have to deal with, but you continue to do that and give back,” she said. “We thank you for your knowledge and everything that you’ve done for Auglaize County. We love you.”

Roby presented Doenges with dinner tickets and a plaque and noted there will be a picture put on the wall at the center and also one that will be presented to Doenges.

Auglaize County Commissioner Doug Spencer kicked off Doenges’ recognition by reading a proclamation from the commissioners.

“This is very exciting to read this proclamation of recognition for Vern,” Spencer said. “I don’t know Vern real well, but I do know his legacy, which speaks for itself, and job well done over all these years, Vern.”

Doenges, who graduated from St. Marys Memorial High School in 1939, took one year of accounting after high school and landed his first job in Wapakoneta.

In 1948, he married his late wife, Eileen, and he and his bride were married for 56 years.

Doenges later was elected Auglaize County auditor, a positioned he held for 28 years, before retiring in 1987.

Through the years, Doenges kept active by helping with the Auglaize County Historical Society and by giving speeches on history for local service clubs. To this day, he writes a local history column for the Wapakoneta Daily News.

Doenges is a collector of postcards, advertising materials and news clippings from the community and recently began donating the material to local historical museums and organizations throughout the county.

A talented musician and singer, Doenges participated in a local dance band and performed many years at weddings as well as social and civic events.

Doenges performed Sunday at the rededication of the Auglaize County Courthouse.

In the proclamation, Spencer read “because this citizen works not for praise and recognition but with an open heart and much caring and sacrifice, always serving where a need exists, the Auglaize County Council on Aging has selected Vernon Doenges to receive the 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizen Award.”

Wapakoneta Daily News Publisher Deb Zwez, former County Auditor Karyn Schuman, county Auditor Janet Schuler, Doenges’ niece Ellen Pleiman, Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce Director Dan Graf, Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Executive Director Greg Myers and Doenges’ son, Nick Doenges along with his daughter, Nina Stuckey, all reflected on Doenges’ career, community and family life, while Doenges, flanked by his sister, Mary Wissman and his brother-in-law, Jim Wissman, listened.