Honor surprises late-running recipient
Executive vice president at First State Bank and Trust named chamber’s Citizen of Year
Chris Donnelly was running late as he headed to last week's Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce meeting at Bullfrog Grill.
Donnelly actually was coming from a Leavenworth County Development Corp. meeting. Donnelly is a board member with the group, one of many organizations for which he volunteers.
To Donnelly's surprise, he was recognized for his volunteer work -- the chamber named him the 2006 Citizen of the Year.
"Whoa, it was weird," Donnelly said, referring to being late for the chamber meeting. "I was not expecting that at all."
Cheryl Hanback, 2006 chamber vice president, said Donnelly was an obvious choice for the honor.
"When I think of who I'm going to call for stuff, he's the first person who comes to mind," Hanback said. "I know if I start with Chris, I'll get the answer or get pointed in the right direction. There are not a lot of other people like that."
Donnelly, who is executive vice president at First State Bank and Trust in Tonganoxie, is quite involved in the community.
Along with being a longtime LCDC board member and chamber of commerce member, Donnelly serves on the Sacred Heart Catholic Church finance and fund-raising committees. As part of those duties, he helped the parish move in fall 2004 from its longtime church on River Street to the new parish center at U.S. Highway 24-40 and Washington. And now, Donnelly is working on the committee in charge of the church's next project -- raising funds for the parish's second building phase -- a new church. Currently, Mass is celebrated in the parish center, which also has classrooms and is used for church and community functions.
In addition to his volunteer work, Donnelly is a Tonganoxie Civic Club member and jokingly said he "attempts" to be a coach in Tonganoxie Recreation Leagues, specifically soccer, basketball and softball.
"I think we have an excellent recreation department," Donnelly said, noting coaching is one of his most enjoyable volunteer activities.
Previously, Donnelly served on the Tonganoxie Planning Commission and the recreation commission board.
Donnelly said Chieftain Park was established when he was on the recreation board -- an example of how volunteerism can be gratifying.
"A lot of that was volunteer, and you can see what happened," Donnelly said.
To Donnelly, being a volunteer is a key component to living in any community.
"I just think people need to get involved and volunteer their time and don't expect anything in return for it," Donnelly explained. "I think people should get involved for the betterment of the community. It's the right thing to do and, quite frankly, in the long run you get a better community."
Debbie Krivjansky, who also works at First State Bank and Trust and is an outgoing chamber board member, spoke about Donnelly's volunteer work.
"He just jumps in," Krivjansky said. "He gets involved ... all about volunteering and getting involved in his own community. I think he enjoys it."
She also spoke about Donnelly's recognition.
"I think it's very well-deserved," Krivjansky said. "He does so much to promote Tonganoxie, but also the county. He understands development and what it means to a community.
"He's also a great mentor, so that's fabulous, too, for me personally."
A native of Yukon, Okla., which is an Oklahoma City suburb, Donnelly has worked at First State Bank and Trust for 13 years, coming to Kansas from a bank in Hobart, Okla. He is a 1982 graduate of Oklahoma State University.
Donnelly and his wife, Susan, have three children, Lauren, 21; Eric, 17; and Alissa, 11.
Referring to Tonganoxie as "a very great community," Donnelly said he and his family enjoy the town where his family has lived for more than a decade. And he was thankful to the chamber for recognizing him as the city's top citizen.
"I'm sure they could have picked probably more people than me, but I appreciate them doing that," Donnelly said.
The native Oklahoman also jokingly said he would find out who nominated him for the honor.
"Obviously somebody nominated me and other people voted," Donnelly said. "If I know who, I will go get them."