By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Major Bowling Green landlords, Bob and Pat Maurer, were recognized Saturday evening for sharing their wealth with the community.
The Maurers were named Male and Female Outstanding Citizens of the Year at the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner.
Also honored Saturday evening were two citizens for elevating women in their professions. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci was presented with the Zeus Award, and First Federal Bank Vice President Tari Christoff was given the Athena Award.
The Maurers were described as “quiet and understated” – people who preferred to stay in the background as their donations made major differences to places like the Wood County District Public Library, the Wood County Hospital cancer treatment center, and BGSU’s School of Business.
The couple was credited with saving historic structures like the Millikin Hotel, the old Wood County Health Department on West Wooster Street, the Carter Historic Home used now by the library.
“They were brought back to life by this couple,” Tim Harris, last year’s Male Outstanding Citizen, said of the Maurers.
Bob Maurer is also a supporter of the American Red Cross, sending letters out to persuade others to give to the organization following natural disasters.
“He’s a true hometown hero,” said Dolores Black, last year’s Female Outstanding Citizen, who as a junior high teacher had caught Bob Maurer chewing gum in study hall decades before.
The couple was thanked for their acts of kindness and generosity to the Bowling Green community.
“Bob and Pat Maurer have left a legacy to the city,” Harris said.
The couple was out of town and unable to attend the chamber event, but video of them accepting the award earlier was shown.
“We’ve been in Bowling Green for a long, long time, and we love Bowling Green,” Pat Maurer said. And Bob Maurer said the award actually stunned him – an attorney.
“My gracious,” he said, adding that he could name a dozen other people more deserving for the award.
“People love Bowling Green and love our community, and so do we,” Bob Maurer said. “We’re glad to help in any little way we can.”
Also during the annual dinner, Tari Christoff was recognized for being a mentor and helping women to realize their leadership opportunities.
Christoff was described by Janet Parks, lasts year’s Athena Award recipient, as a true “townie, born and raised here, and devoted to her community.
She recognized her own abilities early on – trying out for track in seventh grade, long before Title IX was in place ensuring girls teams.
“She made the team,” with a bunch of boys, Parks said of Christoff. “What a wonderful example of fortitude.”
Christoff went on to play three years of volleyball, track and basketball, and in 2016 was named to the BGHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
As an adult, her volunteer efforts have focused on 4-H programs, helping a STEM program at BGSU encouraging young women to pursue careers in science, and pushing teamwork to reach potentials.
She has been involved in the BG Community Foundation, Leadership BG, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Bobcat boosters.
“She doesn’t just show up, but is actively involved,” Parks said of Christoff. She believes in “being involved and being better together.”
In accepting her award, Christoff credited much of her success to her mom, who surprised her by traveling from Florida for the chamber event.
“She was my mentor – the strength that she’s given to me and my family,” Christoff said.
Christoff also recognized the previous Athena Award recipients who gathered behind her on the stage.
“I am very humbled to stand up here with this group of women,” she said.
Francis Scruci was presented the Zeus Award for his effort to empower women in leadership positions.
Scruci has structured his administration to ensure that woman have access to positions of power. He encourages professional development and ongoing training for staff, said Jeff Orlowski, last year’s recipient of the Zeus Award.
As superintendent, he has been a strong supporter of the Girls Who Code student organization, and a steady fan of students at their events – whether that be sports competitions, music concerts or spelling bees.
During his four years in Bowling Green, Scruci has become involved in the Kiwanis, Exchange and Rotary clubs.
“He’s very involved in the Bowling Green community,” Orlowski said.
“This community means a lot to me,” Scruci said. “Bowling Green has become my home. I’m overwhelmed right now.”
In accepting the award, Scruci asked the board members and school administrators in the crowd to stand and be recognized. Then he asked the teachers in the audience to stand.
“This is more than I’d ever expected. This means the world to me,” Scruci said. “We’ve had a difficult year in some ways and we’ve had a great year in other ways.”
Despite the difficulties finding a solution to building issues in the district, academic success being achieved in the schools.
“Our school district is working really hard,” he said.
Scruci mentioned the need for the community to move forward together – the school district, the city and the university.
“None of us can survive without each other,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“You know what I believe in – supporting the kids in our district.”