Its all about service above self

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

State Rep. Chris Widener (far right) presents procla-mations to win-ners of this year’s London Rotary Service Above Self Awards: (from left) Madison-Plains athletic director Will Pratt, veteran Dr. Michael J. Chakeres, victims advocate Carol Mead, scout-master Dr. Harry M. Yokum, DDS, and business owner Thomas A. Coughlin.

On Sept. 25, the London Rotary Club honored five people “who’s spirit we wish we had more of.”

The club’s Service Above Self awards went to Dr. Michael J. Chakeres, Thomas A. Coughlin, Carol Mead, Will Pratt and Harry M. Yokum, DDS.


Dr. Michael J. Chakeres

Rotarian Icle Davis introduced Chakeres as a fellow military veteran and member of London’s American Legion Post.

Chakeres served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and, after his service, was a driving force behind the construction of the Legion post, Davis said. He has been active in Madison County’s Veterans Affairs, has devoted many years to helping veterans in need, and was involved in the installation of the veterans’ memorial on the Madison County Courthouse lawn.

An active member of the Greek Orthodox Church, Chakeres combines his faith and patriotism as part of the annual “Four Chaplains Service.” The service commemorates the clergymen who gave their life jackets to others when the Dorchester sank during World War II.


Thomas A. Coughlin

Rotarian Gary Feliks praised Coughlin as a person who commits time, money and equipment to a wide variety of causes.

Coughlin is the president of Coughlin Motors and has served as president of the Rotary Club. His generosity has extended to Madison County Hospital, HELP House, A Friend’s House, Junior Achievement, and the London police and fire departments, to name a few.

“Often, it is as simple as providing transportation to an individual in true need. And so often, no one had to ask,” Feliks said of Coughlin’s service.

“He has also been quick to send his employees, or use his formidable network of connections, to provide a service or a piece of equipment for the schools, the Chamber of Commerce, or just a group trying to do some good.”


Carol Mead

Feliks introduced Mead as someone “devoted to helping people in need.”

She is the victim and witness advocate for the Madison County Prosecutor’s Of-fice. Over the last 14 years, she has worked on over 4,000 cases, guiding victims through the criminal justice process.

Feliks noted that when the system doesn’t meet the victims’ needs, “Carol has been known to meet their needs; providing shelter or loaning money are all part of her dedication.”

When the local domestic violence shelter closed, Mead assisted in locating and purchasing a property for a new shelter.

“The knowledge that she helps others is her reward,” Feliks said.


Will Pratt

One of Rotarian Tim Stonecipher’s first comments about honoree Will Pratt con-cerned his speed.

“Will was one of the fastest guys at London,” he said, referring to Pratt’s prow-ess as a member of London High School’s football, basketball and baseball teams. He graduated in 1961.

Pratt spent 30 years as an educator before retiring in 2001. He then worked part-time for the county in the work study program before becoming athletic director at Madison-Plains four years ago.

“He knows something about every ath-lete and knows their parents,” Stonecipher said. “He’s a walking encyclopedia of sports people.”

Pratt’s involvement in athletics is extensive. He coached football for 35 years, track for 30 years, and basketball for 10 years. He has been involved with the London Area Baseball Council for 16 years, the past 10 as chairman.

“LABC is a well-run volunteer organi-zation due in large part to the leadership of Will Pratt,” Stonecipher said.


Harry M. Yokum, DDS

According to Rotarian Dave Hume, Yokum is multi-faceted when it comes to service to community, but it’s his devotion to Scouting that stands out the most.

He has been a Scout leader for 19 years and has been honored as Scouter of the Year twice. He has been named a key leader and won several awards, including an Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver Award. He serves as Scoutmaster for Troop 104.

Yokum has overseen 500 nights of Scout camping and guided 26 Eagle Scouts through their community service projects. He and his wife have four sons and one daughter. Three of their sons are Eagle Scouts and one is a First Class scout.

When he learned that he was to receive a Rotary Service Above Self award, Yokum humbly said he would accept it not as an individual but rather on behalf of Troop 104 as a whole. He said each of the troop’s leaders have devoted anywhere from four to 52 years to Scouting. They are Alex Dunkley, Dan Dunkley, Steve McClaskie, Gene Pass, Alan Shellhause, John Sheppa and Paul Thompson and Mary Lynne Yokum.

Yokum also has served on the Madison County Mental Health Board for three years, the St. Patrick School Board for six years, and as a Cub Scout leader for three years. He has operated a dentistry office in West Jefferson for 28 years.


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