By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
(See photo slideshow at the bottom of this article.)
A local businesswoman was recognized last Friday night for her selfless service and tireless generosity by being named Yukon’s Citizen of the Year.
Sherry Poage has been a longtime civic leader and community advocate for organizations like the Yukon and Mustang chambers of commerce, Yukon Compassionate Hands, Yukon Main Street Association and United Way of Canadian County.
Poage accepted the 2018 H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award during the Yukon chamber’s gala and auction on Jan. 25 inside the Palace Event Center, 2310 N Banner Road. The theme of the annual banquet was “Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos”.
Poage, who had previously been named Volunteer of the Year for the United Way and Mustang chamber, said Citizen of the Year is the greatest honor she’s ever received.
“Knowing H.B. personally and knowing all that he did, makes it even more valuable to me,” Poage said. “Knowing that people do appreciate what I’ve done, it means so much. It really does.
“It means everything to realize this is one of the top awards for Yukon and that people voted for me.”
Poage was introduced by Jay Emory, president of the Yukon BancFirst.
“Many people serve with the goal of receiving accolades or maybe are involved out of obligation,” Emory said. “There are a few individuals who serve in their communities because the job must get done and done right. No doubt there are many of you tonight in this room.”
Before announcing her name, Emory said the H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award recipient is characterized by the Rotary Club motto, “Service Above Self.”
“In this community and others, within multiple organizations and without hesitation, our recipient lives out the acronym, ‘LIFE’,” Emory said:
Labor: They work tirelessly for others, in this and other communities.
Influence: Their influence in making things happen is an example for us all.
Finances: They would never tell you about their financial generosity, though many organizations have received it.
Experiences: Their tremendous experience in chamber and many other volunteer activities is evident throughout Canadian County.
The H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award recipient does not serve for recognition, Emory told Friday night’s gala audience.
“But she puts forth tremendous effort and doesn’t stop until the job is done,” he said.
“She’s serves selflessly and unconditionally and deserves to be honored for extensive service within the Yukon community.”
The award presenter shared comments from other people about Poage’s impact:
“A true advocate for Yukon’s elderly citizens with disabilities through Compassionate Hands.” …
“Helped allocate over $3 million to health and human service programs here in Canadian County.” …
“Today, if I needed her help with anything, I know she would be there in a minute.” …
“She has set an example for me as a professional businesswoman that I will always hold in high regard.”
‘A PIONEER WHO TRULY LOVED YUKON’
Yukon’s Troy Niles, grandson of Howard “H.B.” Frank, discussed the award before Poage was introduced as this year’s Citizen of the Year.
“This award is very dear to my heart and my family’s,” Niles said. “My grandfather H.B. Frank was a retailer in town, ran a five-and-dime store where Urban Oak 66 is currently. My sister actually works there with Stephanie Hale. … she’s living that legacy out.”
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce presents the H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award annually to a person who represents the best that Yukon has to offer, has extensive history of service within the community and whose tireless dedication has helped make Yukon a better place to live, work and raise a family.
“Mr. Frank,” as he was affectionately known in Yukon, was born Jan. 10, 1898 in Missouri as a descendent of American settler Daniel Boone. He passed away in 1988 at age 90. His wife Myrel lived to be 103-1/2, living in three centuries.
“Howard started his first grocery store when he was 18 years old in Oklahoma City, expanded into the Yukon market, and opened 13 stores throughout Oklahoma and one in Texas,” Niles told the audience. “He was heavily involved with opening the Yukon bowling alley as one of the partners, as well as being strongly involved in his church, the First Christian Church of Yukon, as a deacon and teacher.”
H.B. Frank’s real passion, however, was encouraging people.
“He would tell every person he encountered, everyone he could, about how great Yukon was,” Niles said. “All the while, he was serving others and God, every step of his life.”
Frank owned a plane, which he flew with Oklahoma aviation pioneer Wiley Post. And one of his customers in his wholesale business was none other than Sam Walton, who went on to become the founder of Walmart.
“I stand here humbly and proud to honor grandparents, my parents (Jim and Mary Kay Niles), and all Yukonites who have made Yukon a great community,” Niles said. “The H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year Award for Yukon cannot be more aptly named for a pioneer who truly loved Yukon and his supportive wife Myrel, who collectively kept Yukon on a break-neck speed to where it is today … and even stronger tomorrow.”