Friday, January 20, 2012

Lois Denman: Beaumont’s 2012 Citizen of the Year

She lived up to her motto until the end of her career at the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce.
“I intend to wear out—not rust out!”

As a bookkeeper, office manager and Chamber volunteer in a career spanning 25 years, Lois Denman could always be counted on. She kept the office humming for busy executive directors, kept the books balanced to the penny, and kept busy answering the phones and helping walk-ins as a volunteer.

On Thursday (Jan. 19), Denman capped her rewarding career by being named the Chamber’s 2012 Citizen of the Year. A grateful community extended heartfelt accolades for her long and distinguished service.

Chamber Executive Director Sheri Bogh spoke for many at the Chamber’s 58th annual Installation Dinner at the Highland Springs Resort.

“There was no task too big or too small for her,” Bogh said. “Today, with our growing, thriving Chamber, we are forever indebted to Lois.”

"About 200 people attended the event and Denman received three standing ovations from the crowd."

At 90 years old, Denman officially retired last month in her final post as a Chamber volunteer. She will be moving to Florida to be close to her family.

Always delivering

Her love affair with the Chamber happened by chance.

In 1981, Denman, a retired teacher and counselor, moved west from Ohio with her husband. Along with another couple, they were looking for a small-town business to buy. They scoured the Inland Empire until they quickly discovered a throwback to the days when the milkman came calling every morning.

She and her husband Tom, and Gordon and Jackie Predmore found just what they were looking for when they spotted the Beaumont Drive-Thru Dairy on 6th Street. It was a perfect spot for a retired school teacher with a friendly, outgoing personality.

“Customers would drive up and we would go out and wait on them,” she said.

Going out to those cars and delivering milk orders gave Denman the opportunity of a lifetime.
In the early 1980s, she often waited on Chuck Hermes, who was executive director of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce. He would pay for his milk and always ask Denman if she was ready to work at the Chamber. She politely explained about having to help run the drive-thru dairy.

But when the business was sold after about four years, Denman got her chance.

She ran into the Chamber executive at the Post Office, asked if the job was still open, and got hired on the spot in the mid-1980s as a part-time Chamber receptionist. At the time, the Chamber was located on 4th Street. She moved up to office manager and finished her paid Chamber career as bookkeeper before becoming a volunteer in 2005.

As a volunteer, Denman put her training as a school teacher to good use by proofreading the Chamber’s newsletter. At the Chamber, she helped keep things organized with the Winter Wish program. Denman and other local Soroptimist Club members founded the gift giving drive to help local families at Christmas.

Now, as she looks back on decades spent helping others, Denman says she is gratified to be honored and will always cherish her many years and strong friendships in Beaumont.
“This community has given so much to me,” she said.