First Citizen Award
TRI-STATE

2018 - James Collins

Since arriving at Loras College as a freshman in 1980, Jim Collins has gone on to spend his professional career there and is now its longest-serving president. His leadership at Loras and efforts to impact his community led Collins to be selected as the recipient of the TH’s 49th annual First Citizen Award in 2018.

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2017 - Bob and Marilyn Hoefer

Since retirement, Bob and Marilyn Hoefer have shifted their philanthropic efforts into a new gear, putting their money and time toward making the world a better place. That mindset and their dedication to community drove the couple’s selection for the 48th annual TH First Citizen Award in 2017.

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2016 - Gary Dolphin

Gary Dolphin's busy schedule as the radio "Voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes," and his leadership role at U.S. Bank in Dubuque, didn't stop him from devoting much of his limited time to supporting dozens of local nonprofit organizations, earning his selection for the TH First Citizen Award in 2016.

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2015 - Edward and Shirley Babka

The late Edward Babka parlayed a visionary publishing dream into the largest national weekly newspaper catering to collectors and buyers of antiques. Later, his vision provided for numerous improvements across Dubuque. He and his wife Shirley became recipients of the 46th annual TH First Citizen Award in 2015.

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2014 - John O'Connor

Dubuque attorney John O’Connor was present for the humble origins of Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. A dozen years later, in 2014, the foundation’s assets had surpassed $60.3 million, and O’Connor was recognized with the 45th annual TH First Citizen Award.

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2013 - Mark Falb

Publishing mogul Mark Falb played trumpet in Dubuque Brass for two decades and generously donated to Dubuque’s arts community, earning him the honor of receiving the TH’s 2014 First Citizen Award.

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2012 - Michael Duehr

Working with the Dubuque Eagles Club, Michael Duehr organized many fish fries, hamburger nights, softball and shuffleboard tournaments, raffles and other fund-raising events to support organizations in need. Duehr in 2012 was named the TH’s 43rd annual First Citizen Award recipient.

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2011 - John and Alice Butler

John and Alice Butler’s life’s work, Cottingham & Butler, has grown from two employees in 1957 to more than 400 today. That work was celebrated when the Butlers were named recipients of the 2011 Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award.

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2010 - Jeanne Powers Quann

Jeanne Powers Quann’s charitable efforts — with Holy Family Catholic Schools, the Dubuque Museum of Art, fundraising for an injured Dubuque Marine and others — won her a legion of admirers... and the TH First Citizen Award for 2010.

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2009 - Helen Huewe

Sister Helen Huewe, the former president and chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center, led initiatives to improve the lives of Dubuque’s most vulnerable residents — its poor, ill and forgotten — and became the 40th recipient of the TH First Citizen Award in 2009.

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2008 - Francis Friedl

Monsignor Francis Friedl guided college students, ministered to the sick and dying and counseled newlyweds. He hobnobbed with movie stars and presidents-to-be, and wrote 14 books. Upon receiving the 2008 TH First Citizen Award, Friedl, then 91, remained humble and self-effacing.

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2007 - Wallace Brown

Wallace Brown, with his white beard and jolly personality, has devoted much of his life to tirelessly volunteering for countless organizations. The man, known as much for his contagious laugh as for his fundraising capabilities, was named TH First Citizen in 2007.

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2006 - Norma Denlinger

Norma Denlinger might have been born in St. Louis, but in her heart, she will always be a Dubuque girl. She touched countless lives bringing her time, treasure and talent to the city she loves, which is why she was chosen recipient of the TH’s First Citizen Award for 2006.

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2005 - Leo McCarthy

Leo McCarthy greeted the news of his Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award honor with a degree of skepticism. Conversely, in 2005, plenty of people couldn’t think of a better recipient of the annual honor.

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2004 - Dick Wertzberger

Surrounded by beaming family members, friends, fellow civic volunteers and former honorees, Dick Wertzberger was celebrated as the recipient of the TH First Citizen Award for 2004 at Rafters Restaurant.

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2003 - C.J. Buelow

Abandoned as a child, C.J. Buelow was raised by an aunt and uncle in Dubuque and grew up to be a bank president and receipent of the TH First Citizen Award for 2003 at the age of 80.

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2002 - Jim Theisen

By any standard, Jim Theisen has been a remarkable business success. But, when he was recognized with the TH First Citizen Award for 2002, it was for the Dubuque native's remarkable generosity.

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2001 - F. Hunter Fuerste

Local eye doctor F. Hunter Fuerste was named recipient of the TH First Citizen Award for 2001 at age 47 for sharing his musical talents with the tri-state area as a performer, conductor and arranger.

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2000 - Latha and Robert Bonnewell

Robert and Latha Bonnewell were considered Dubuque's most colorful and globally aware octogenarians the year they received the Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award for 2000.

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1999 - Larry Friedman

Larry Friedman, the TH's 30th annual First Citizen Award recipient tried hard to convince us there were more deserving candidates for the 1999 honor. He failed.

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1998 - Ruth and Russ Nash

Arguably Dubuque’s most progressive couple of the last third of the 20th century, Russ and Ruth Nash received the Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award for 1998 not so much for their actions supporting human rights and global peace — though they were at the forefront there — but for their commitment, investment and advocacy for the arts.

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1997 - Gene Heinemann

Gene Heinemann was a Burlington Northern Railroad station agent in 1983 when the railroad wanted to transfer him to Nebraska. He took early retirement instead and helped establish the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at Marshall Park.

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1996 - Jan Hess

The personnel director for Dubuque County government and a civic leader, Jan Hess took on the volunteer role of chair of the county’s Sesquicentennial Commission and received the TH’s First Citizen Award for 1996.

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1995 - Eldon Herrig

Eldon T. Herrig served the Dubuque community in myriad ways during his long life, including ways never made public, but when he received the TH First Citizen Award for 1995, it was tagged to a very public campaign.

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1994 - Donna Ginter

While most other recipients of the TH First Citizen Award had resumes reflecting service and contributions involving a dozen or more community organizations and associations, Donna Ginter’s recognition was due to doing one thing, doing it well, doing it at an important time and doing it for a long, long time.

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1993 - J. Bruce Meriwether

At the time of his 1993 selection for the TH First Citizen Award, J. Bruce Meriwether was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Hawkeye Bank of Dubuque, previously First National and subsequently U.S. Bank.

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1992 - David Wm. Rusk

David Wm. Rusk, known for his energy and optimism, especially where it concerned a better Dubuque, received the Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award for 1992 after leading Vision 2000, a community-wide strategic planning endeavor.

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1991 - Jerry Enzler

Jerry Enzler's energy, vision and achievements as leader of the Dubuque County Historical Society delivered an important boost to the entire Dubuque community — at a time it really needed a lift. He became the TH’s 22nd First Citizen Award recipient.

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1990 - Walter Peterson and Bill Kruse

It's been said that rules, like records, are made to be broken. In 1990, when it came to the TH's internal "rule" that only one individual or married couple per year could receive its First Citizen Award, it was broken by Walter Peterson and Bill Kruse.

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1989 - George Freund

In announcing George Freund’s selection as the recipient of the 20th First Citizen Award, the TH noted that, in German, his last name means "friend." The Dubuque native (1920-2006) was a renaissance man of sorts, and a friend to the city for more than 80 years.

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1988 - Frank Hardie

Frank Hardie, recipient of the TH First Citizen Award for 1988, had his sights set on a career in medicine, but the Great Depression changed his plans. He instead managed to find work with an outdoor advertising company in Quincy, Ill.

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1987 - Arnold Honkamp

Just two years removed from sharing First Citizen Award honors with fellow members of the Dubuque Racing Association, Arnold Honkamp received the 1987 award in his own right. But the 18th annual award had nothing to do with Dubuque Greyhound Park.

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1986 - Catherine Dunn

Less than four months after Sister Catherine Dunn was named president of Clarke College in 1984 a devastating fire swept through the campus. On the final day of 1986, the TH recognized her leadership and can-do spirit by naming her its 17th First Citizen.

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1985 - Dubuque Racing Association

It is unusual for the Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award to go to an organization rather than an individual or a married couple. It’s happened only once in 49 years. But 1985 was an unusual time. And the Dubuque Racing Association was worthy of the honor.

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1984 - Ruby Sutton

The 15th recipient of the TH First Citizen Award, Ruby Sutton became the first person of color to receive the newspaper’s recognition, and it came in 1984 in a virtually all-white community dealing with a past, present and future of racist attitudes and incidents.

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1983 - Mary Biggins

In our December 1983 article announcing her selection as the 14th recipient of the TH First Citizen Award, we described Mary Biggins as a Dubuquer who couldn’t say “no.” Biggins (1904-1995) possessed an abundance of roll-up-the-sleeves energy toward community betterment.

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1982 - George & Gloria Lipper

George Lipper helped make the Dubuque-Wisconsin bridge a reality, while his wife Gloria was the first woman to head the United Way drive when they became co-recipients of the TH’s First Citizen Award in 1982.

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1981 - Mary Hickey

1981 First Citizen Mary Hickey (1920-2005) made the interests and welfare of the developmentally disabled a personal and community priority.

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1980 - Auleen Eberhardt

Auleen Eberhardt, the 1980 recipient of the TH First Citizen Award, was energetic, occasionally controversial and always working to change hearts and minds.

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1979 - Louis Fautsch Sr.

Louis Fautsch Sr. (1908-1989) became the 10th recipient of the First Citizen Award, not for overcoming his own alcohol problem but for helping and inspiring hundreds of others to overcome theirs.

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1978 - Jacqueline Merritt

In 1978, when Jacqueline F. Merritt became the ninth recipient of the First Citizen Award, she was a woman some might describe as a "stay-at-home mom." But, while she was a mother of six, she was rarely staying home.

TRI-STATE

1977 - Leo Frommelt

A Telegraph Herald reporter once described Leo F. Frommelt, recipient of the newspaper's eighth annual First Citizen Award, as "tough-minded, kind-hearted and German as beer."

TRI-STATE

1976 - Paul Hemmer

In 1976, the First Citizen Award was in its infancy — and its seventh recipient, Paul Hemmer, hardly seemed much older. Hemmer was just 32 when the Telegraph Herald selected him for the award in recognition of his accomplishments as a composer and champion of local culture.

TRI-STATE

1975 - Jackson 'Mac' Marshall

There was one and only one Jackson "Mac" Marshall (1894-1977). A homespun boilerman with a lifelong love of nature, Marshall became the sixth recipient of the First Citizen Award in 1975. Dubuque's Marshall Park was donated to the city by Jackson that year.

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1974 - Rev. Thomas Rhomberg

To look today upon quiet Ecumenical Tower in Dubuque, one might be surprised to know its origins were anything but quiet. Standing tall amidst the storm was the Rev. Thomas W. Rhomberg (1927-2014), recipient of the TH’s First Citizen Award in 1974.

TRI-STATE

1973 - Wayne Norman

If not for the leadership and vision of Wayne A. Norman Sr. (1920-2001), Dubuque would look and be much different today. In 1973, when he was selected for the Telegraph Herald’s First Citizen Award — the previous three years, the honor was called Man of the Year — Norman had already made a major difference in the community.

TRI-STATE

1972 - Gerald 'Red' McAleece

Gerald W. "Red" McAleece (1904-1984) parlayed his sports reputation, civic commitment and easy-going manner into a legendary career as a coach, broadcaster and community icon.

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1971 - Gilbert Chavenelle

When a Telegraph Herald reporter visited the Dubuque City Hall office of Gilbert Chavenelle (1911-1988) to tell him he had been selected the TH’s “Man of the Year” for 1971, the city manager would have none of it. “For God’s sake,” he told the scribe, “get out of here and find someone else.”

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1970 - Roger J. Rhomberg

Roger J. Rhomberg (1926-2000), the consummate Dubuque businessman and civic leader, was the Telegraph Herald’s choice for its first-ever “Man of the Year” recognition — soon afterward known as the First Citizen Award.

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