Honor rewards helpful senior

Busy retiree earns award for altruism

One might wonder if a fellow who assists at Love Chapel, has led food drives at his church, has helped build home ramps for people with disabilities, has constructed houses for the needy and volunteers his expertise with Columbus Regional Health’s facility engineering department ever has time for himself.

Columbus resident Ted Unrue chuckled at the thought. He and his wife Patty still relax nearly two months each year in Florida.

“That’s when I can put some of the volunteerism on hold,” he said.

He seems deserving of at least a bit of downtime.

Unrue’s sunny disposition about regularly and extensively giving to others has earned him Mill Race Center’s annual Joan Pearcy Senior Citizen of the Year. The honor in 2011 was named after the late Mill Race board member and volunteer who never looked for or needed public recognition and frequently worked behind the scenes.

Mill Race staffers said the 72-year-old Unrue never has sought the spotlight. In fact, the longtime Cummins Engine Co. facility maintenance worker still cannot figure who nominated him for the award.

“I can say that I was very much surprised,” Unrue said.

He probably shouldn’t have been.

He is a volunteer with Housing Partnership program under Thrive Alliance, where he has volunteered more than 2,300 hours helping build homes for low-income families. He also is a volunteer for the Ramps for Freedom project with Thrive Alliance, helping construct nearly 80 wheelchair ramps for the disabled.

“That especially has been so rewarding,” Unrue said, adding that some people have told him they were subsequently able to get out of their home on their own for the first time in months.

Unrue also has served as vice president of buildings and grounds for the Love Chapel food pantry. He has been a delegate on the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches, and a volunteer in multiple capacities at Mill Race Center, from wood shop to various events.

The Senior of the Year award aims to recognize an outstanding senior citizen for his or her service to the community, to encourage continued achievement and service from seniors, and to reinforce and build awareness of seniors’ local contributions.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.