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Yoakum resident honored for lifetime of service

By BY BECKY COOPER - BCOOPER@VICAD.COM
Jan. 26, 2013 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:26 p.m.

The Yoakum Area Chamber of Commerce honored three people and two businesses at its 95th annual banquet Thursday. Honored were, from left, TDECU for business of the year, represented by Leslee Beach, community bank manager; Anita Pesek, Educator of the Year; Marie Jo Knippa, Paul Gustwick award winner; Circle Y Leather, for Spirit Award, represented by Mark Jemelka, executive vice president and chief operating officer; and Jewel Sheffield, Leader of Tomorow award.

Yoakum Chamber 2013 officers

• Chairman: Carl O'Neill

• Chairwoman-elect: Theresa Ferry

• Vice Chairwoman: Karen Barber

• Secretary: Shannon Blaschke

• Treasurer: Jim Miculka

• Directors: Connie Zimmerman, immediate past chairwoman; Diana Hanzelka; Edward Nieto; Julian Ramirez; Brenda Coleman and Scott Bazar.

YOAKUM - A lifetime of giving was celebrated Thursday at the annual Yoakum Chamber of Commerce's 95th annual banquet.

Marie Jo Knippa, who has been active in the Yoakum community since moving there in 1947, was honored with the Paul Gustwick Community Service Award.

In addition to owning a business for more than 25 years, she has worked with Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, St. Joseph School, Pilot Club, Yoakum Heritage Museum, Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, Texas A&M Mothers' Club, Progressive Study Club and many other organizations.

She has also been active with the American Cancer Society, serving as a driver to take patients to treatment.

She and her husband helped start the sports club at St. Joseph School. She was also instrumental in developing the leather history room at the Yoakum Heritage Museum.

She is the mother of two sons and a daughter.

In accepting her award, she said, "Yoakum is a good place to raise a family."

She encouraged those present to stay in Yoakum, raise their family and get involved.

Other awards were presented to Jewel Sheffield for Leader of Tomorrow, Anita Pesek for Educator of the Year, TDECU for Business of the Year and Circle Y Leather, which received the Spirit Award.

Jewel, a senior at Yoakum High School, has been class president all four years, involved in many school clubs and organizations and was named a National Hispanic Merit Scholar. She is the daughter of Mamie and Daniel Sheffield.

Pesek, a 17-year educator, teaches geometry at Yoakum High School and is the adviser for the National Honor Society.

Circle Y Leather was founded in Yoakum in 1960. Among its many community activities is providing factory tours to tour bus groups throughout the year. Their products are sold worldwide.

TDECU has had a branch office in Yoakum for four years.

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