A Township Institution

We've said good-bye to too many giants of our community in the last few weeks.  One was my great aunt of nearly 94 years.  She impacted my life in a way few have, through her example of public service over nearly 50 years, which I got to observe first-hand.  Firetrucks and ambulances from the community she served led the procession to the cemetery.  She had become an institution and she'll be missed.  The following was read at her memorial service and is composed of excerpts from events held to honor her years of service.

My great aunt and me

“You know what the Lord requires of you.
Love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly before your God.”

There are very few people who embody those words, but Elma Konya did.  She was just and merciful in her daily work of serving others.  And she was humble.  When she learned that she would be honored by receiving the Sagamore, she said “Why do I need recognized, I’m just a farmwife.”

Elma Crothers was born to Lemuel and Bertha Crothers in 1921 at their farmstead in North Township, Marshall County.  Except for a brief time on a farm just across the county line, Elma lived her entire life within the boundaries of a township she served faithfully for nearly fifty years.  Elma worked for Bikeweb manufacturing for seventeen years and as a farm wife before entering a career as a public servant.  In 1962, Elma began working as North Township Deputy Assessor and continued in that capacity until running for North Township Trustee in 1970.  She faithfully executed the office for each of the following ten consecutive terms, winning the public’s trust for her honesty and fairness.

Elma with Senator Donnelly

Citing the continued excellence of the North Township Volunteer Fire Department in equipment and facilities, and the construction of its new building in 1993 as her proudest accomplishments, her unsung commitment to carrying out the duties as trustee and assessor in a fair manner is her true legacy.  This may be most exemplified within the township’s farm community.  With a working knowledge of farm practices, Elma assisted big and small farmers alike in a manner that could only be described as neighborly and above reproach.

For nearly five decades, Elma rode the waves of change associated with her job with grace and great fortitude.  Applying the core values she attained from her youth and life of public service, she understood the importance of self-reliance but was the first to personally lend a hand in practice of the Golden Rule.  This was her most honorable attribute.  By understanding their needs and assisting when others may simply deny their responsibility, Mrs. Konya has forever left a mark on the citizens and history of North Township as a friend and neighbor in the truest meaning of the word.

Elma served faithfully, selflessly, and without recognition-through times when politically popular and not.  Day in and day out.  She didn’t perform “acts” of service, it was her life.  Receiving the Sagamore of the Wabash from the Governor is truly an honor to any Hoosier.  There are times, though, when it is an honor, and there are times when it is an overdue payment for a life of service.

In 2011, Elma Konya was honored for her nearly fifty years of public service.  Surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues, Elma received a hero’s applause when she rose to her feet and reflected on the guiding principle she used to serve the North Township community over the last forty years as Trustee.

“I lived through the Depression. I knew what it was like to be hungry, to not have a roof over your head, to be without heat.  You care for each other.”

Senator Donnelly was on hand to offer words of appreciation to Konya and said “you are the inspiration to what the fabric of this great nation is made of…to quietly serve your neighbors and friends”. He then read a letter congratulating and thanking Mrs. Konya for her many years of service, and best wishes from the President.


Jim Grey said…
What a lovely story of your great aunt. Here's hoping others like her are ready to step up.

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