Johnson, Paul named Frell Owl Award winners
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Frell Owl Award is given annually by the Cherokee Boys Club to those who give long-standing, exemplary service to Cherokee youth. For the first time in the Award’s 30-year span, two winners were chosen to receive the award for this year.
Janet “Lou” Johnson, longtime front office worker at Cherokee High School, and Wilbur Paul, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana who has worked and volunteered in Cherokee for years, both received the award during the annual banquet held at the Chestnut Tree Inn on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
“This is something that has never happened before,” Skooter McCoy, Cherokee Boys Club general manager, said of the dual winners, “but, we had some nominations of some truly outstanding people this year. When our Board of Directors went into closed session and it was time to vote, I don’t think there was any way of differentiating the years of service and the time these people have put in. This is a very special day for us.”
Monica Wildcatt, who nominated Johnson for the award, read from her nomination form, “This wonderful lady has been the receptionist at CHS (Cherokee High School) for many years. I would say she means more to the students than she knows. She has the biggest heart around.”
Wildcatt stated that Johnson is always willing to help students and never lets anyone go without. “When children or families in our community have a financial need, she is more than willing to throw a benefit together at a moment’s notice. I can recall this lady talking about needing new tires for her vehicle – that the wires were showing. At the same time, one of our children and their family was facing a hardship, and I remember her fretting over it, helping the child, and pulling together her resources to make a benefit happen. She put their needs before her own.”
She added, “The people in our community know who they can go to for support, without judgment, and they know they can depend on her, and I know I can depend on her.”
True to form, Johnson had to leave immediately after receiving her award to go help out at the Holidays on the Hardwood basketball tournament which started at Cherokee High School earlier that morning. “I have to leave and get back to the high school, I’ve got a tournament going on,” she told the crowd. “I appreciate all of you. Thank you all.”
Cory Blankenship read from the nomination of Paul and stated, “He has coordinated and participated in countless fundraising programs that have benefited individuals and groups as well as organizations. Award-winning crafts have been donated to use as raffle prizes or auction items in efforts to raise money.”
Blankenship went on to state, “Our winner has been generous in his donations to the Cherokee Children’s Home to promote the efforts to build a new facility for these children in the Birdtown Community. Much time and many resources were given to see this facility complete…our winner served our community as the superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Cherokee until his retirement. At that time, he became more active in the community serving on many boards including the Cherokee Historical Association, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual, Cherokee Cancer Support Group, and more. Our winner also served on the Cherokee Boys Club Board of Directors for eight years and was president for four of those years.”
On his award, Paul noted, “It is an honor to be associated with the Cherokee Boys Club. They’ve done many, many good things through all these years. I’m just happy to be a part of it. It’s just a good organization with good people.”
Past recipients of the Frell Owl Award include: Chief John A. Crowe, Stella Kanott, The Crowe Family, Ray Kinsland, Pearl and John Reagan, Betty Crisp, Jerri Reagan Kinsland, Mary Chiltoskey, Dora Reed, Marie Junaluska, Sharon and David Crowe, Ernestine Walkingstick, Jody Adams, Gary Maney, Mary Sneed, Mary Mantooth, David McCoy, Glenda Crowe, Denise Ballard, David McQueen, Skooter McCoy, Johnson “Booger” Arch, Kathy Wolfe, Carmaleta Monteith, Roy Lambert, Sandy Owle, Lana Lambert, Catherine Blythe Sanders, and Will Poolaw.