2010.01.06 Tim Decker: Remembering Kiwanians

Written by David Green.

Remembering our friends and the gifts they shared with us


I was sitting at a good friend’s funeral the other day and I couldn’t help but reflect on his smile, sense of humor and his giving nature. I was also impressed by how many people took the time to come and show their respects to a good man.

I began to think of some other friends who passed this last year and remember the gifts they shared with all of us over the years. Some of these gifts will remain here to benefit our community and our children for years to come. I can’t mention all the good people who have passed, but as the president of the Morenci Kiwanis Club, there are three people I believe deserve some special recognition.

Dr. Keith Whitehouse

Doc was a very special person to me. I have always admired his love for the community. His life was always so visible to most, but one thing he did that hasn’t been as renowned is that he and a number of exceptional Morenci citizens planted a seed in 1952 and started the Morenci Kiwanis Club. The rewards Morenci has realized from this initial venture have been magnificent.

Dr. Whitehouse was the first president of the club and except for a short period of time during his professional life, he remained a member until he passed this last year. Doc set a standard of giving that will be almost impossible to match.

Curtis Kime

Curtis was always a silent member of the club. He was proud to be a Kiwanian and took part in every activity we had. He was a very good man and gave whenever he could.

Curtis never missed a meeting and when asked to help, he jumped right in. He actually would feel bad when we would have an activity he would not be able to take part in for whatever reason. He gave a lot of himself to the club and to Morenci.

Roger Ries

Roger was not just a good Kiwanian, but I was very close to Roger and his wife, Phyllis. Roger was a past president of Kiwanis and was involved in every activity we had. He was always a bright light at the activities, and he looked forward to our meetings and in participating in all our activities.

Roger delivered Meals on Wheels when he probably should have been receiving them. He did everything from standing in the street selling Kiwanis nuts to selling Duck Race tickets, running Farmers’ Day, building and driving floats for parades, working at the Rex Riley Scholarship dinners and participating in our annual golf events. I believe this is the first year Roger was not able to help with the Wishing Tree program since its inception by the Kiwanis Club. Roger served for years on the Rex Riley Scholarship board where over $100,000 in scholarships have been given to local children since its inception. I could go on and on, but I won’t.

It hurts to reflect on the loss of these good people, but it also reminds me why my friends in the Kiwanis Club, Morenci Athletic Boosters, Stair Public Library board and so many other local charitable organizations do what they do. Now our numbers are shrinking and there are big shoes to be filled. So as you think of a New Year’s resolution, and if you like to help others, please consider joining one of the local organizations that serve our community so diligently.

– Tim Decker

Morenci Kiwanis Club president

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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