Chamber to award posthumous outstanding citizens of the year03/08/2022 02:51PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
In a long list of recipients that goes back to 1968, the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Outstanding Citizens of the Year list reads like a Who’s Who of local dignitaries and impact makers who have carved their contributions into the bedrock of the communities they have served.
As Chamber President and CEO Cheryl Kuhn began preparing for the Chamber’s 55th Annual Chairman’s Gala – which will be held on March 19 at Longwood Gardens – she did so with the hollow emotion of grief. Over the past two years, while the Chamber battled through a worldwide pandemic, three of its key members – Gail Suzanne Chase, Michael R. Moyer and Dennis C. Melton – had all passed, and a fourth -- David Gregory Hughes – had passed in November of 2019.
“All of them were active members in the chamber and leaders in their communities,” Kuhn said. “As each one of these individuals passed, it affected the Chamber, it affected me and it affected everyone they came in contact with.
“As people came forth and began to tell us stories about each of them, it gave me an entirely new perspective on just how much they had all meant to others.”
Soon, it became clear to Kuhn that as the plans for the gala began to take shape, the idea of honoring all of them posthumously had to be done. With overwhelming approval from their families and the Chamber’s Executive Committee, Chase, Hughes, Melton and Moyer will be named as the Chamber’s 2021 Outstanding Citizens of the Year.
Affiliations, projects and causes
If there is one consistent overlap inherent in each of the award recipients, it is that they were involved in a multitude of affiliations, projects and causes. For Gail Suzanne Chase, a long-time branch manager of WSFS Bank in Kennett Square, her work in the community took her to the Lion’s Club of Kennett Square, to Anson B. Nixon Park as an advocate for the park and to the Brandywine Valley SPCA.
When Kuhn first arrived at the Chamber ten years ago, several members asked if she had met Chase.
“So I called Gail and asked her, ‘Are you Gail Chase?’” Kuhn said. “She told me that she was, and I told her, ‘We need to get together soon, because I need to find out why everyone has been asking me if I have met Gail Chase.’ We soon had lunch, and we never looked back on our friendship.”
To the many who knew him, David Gregory Hughes’ life seemed equally divided between his family, the ServPro franchises he founded and operated and his service to his community. For several years, Hughes had been a contributor to local volunteer firefighters and EMS units, area school districts and the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce.
“David was the type of person who gives and doesn’t expect anything in return, just like the other recipients,” Kuhn said. “He understood what was needed in a community. He grew his company to the point where it became very successful and that’s when David, his children and his wife Christine Trumbull said, ‘It is time for us to give back.’”
Throughout Dennis Melton’s life, it was not an overreach to recognize that his work as an architect was similar to the format of his contributions to the community: Imagination and ideas that led to reality. In addition to his profession, Melton was a founder of The Kennett Flash and served on the boards of several committees and organizations, including the Chamber.
Kuhn recalled that she first met Melton when he served on the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee.
“Dennis was very quiet and unassuming in so many ways, but he was completely in the room and listening to everything being said and processing it all, and when he spoke, everyone else got quiet,” she said. “He never went out of his way to tell us all the things that he was doing for others, and the difference he was making for so many people and organizations.”
At the same time Michael Moyer was operating his State Farm Insurance agency in Kennett Square, he was also an active member of the Chamber and the Longwood Rotary Club, and participated in numerous charitable events.
In August 2020, while he was living with a severe illness, Moyer attended a Chamber charity golf outing, and even though he did not play, he handed Kuhn a check for the scholarship fund.
“Even at that point in his life, when he really suffering, Michael wanted to make sure that he gave to us, and that to me is a different level of person,” she said. “He was a purely selfless individual. Whether it was with the Chamber or with Longwood Rotary, when Michael put his heart and soul into something, it was always at one hundred and ten percent.”
To learn more about the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, visit www.scccc.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].