The Newkirk Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet on Monday, January 20, 2020 at the Newkirk Senior Center. The highlight of the evening was honoring our Business Persons of the Year, John & Pam Miller, owners of Miller-Stahl Funeral Service and Citizen of the Year, Tom Rigdon. Although Pamela Stahl moved to Newkirk in July of 1951 when her parents William H. “Bill” and Evelyn Stahl purchased the Hill Funeral Home and Ambulance Service and started Stahl Funeral Home, she and John Miller were both teachers for Waukomis Public Schools when they met. He taught special education and she taught band and music. They were married and then it wasn't long before they went back to college at what was Central State University in Edmond for John to get his degree in mortuary science with certification as embalmer, funeral director, and eye enucleator. Pamela has always said that they got into this business because she let her husband hang out with her father too much. They moved to Newkirk in 1977 and worked with Bill and Evelyn until Bill passed away in 1981 at which time John and Pamela purchased the business as Miller-Stahl Funeral Service and carried on the family business which has served the people of Newkirk for 68 ½ years.
They have both been very active in their church and also served and supported Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce, with John being past president of both organizations. John has also helped a great many in the community with their computer problems. Pamela has also in previous years shared her love and appreciation of music by giving vocal, flute, and piano lessons to many in the community. They have sacrificed family time, holidays, and vacations in order to be able to serve their community with great care and compassion at a time when it is most needed. Over the years they have always considered it a privilege to serve their community.
Tom Rigdon was honored as the Citizen of the Year, but was unable to attend due to ill health. Tom has been the quiet force for the Newkirk Community for many decades serving as a public servant. He had been the City Attorney from November 1, 1975 until June 15, 2018. He kept the management and governing board for the City of Newkirk on the correct legal path and was always there for advice no matter how small or big the matter at hand. The only compensation he ever received was his monthly retainer and he did more work than that small retainer covered for all those years. Another part Tom has played is being a Trustee for many estates - just a few notables are the Glenn and Madalynne Peel Estates, Horner Estate, Doug and Sandra Cline estates - from these estates there have been many donations to public improvements. A few of these are the Newkirk Public Library building, equipment and programs, Newkirk Senior Citizens Building, playground equipment for the Park, the Newkirk Fitness Path and the Story Walk Project. This is just to name a few there are many, many more over the years.
He has also provided legal advice to many civic groups in the Community - two being the Newkirk Takedown Club and Newkirk Youth Program - there are others - at no expense to keep these programs going for the youth who will eventually be future leaders of Newkirk. The Newkirk Community has and is very important to Tom. He has made valuable contributions to the community to improve it for all the citizens - young to old.
President, Debbie Leaming gave a report on what the Chamber had accomplished during the past year and the focus and vision for 2020. Carrie Grace of Stagecoach BBQ catered the event with heavy hors d'oeuvres. There was also a Silent Auction.