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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, January 10, 2014

About time to make Sustar extra-distinguished

The dawn of a new year means it is time to start getting ready for what I consider to be one of the finest events of the year — the presentation of the Distinguished Citizen and Distinguished Civic Organization awards for Willoughby and the western Lake County area.

Let me waste no time. Let me draw your attention to the two winners:

The Distinguished Citizen is Roger Sustar of Waite Hill.

The Civic Organization is Project Hope for the Homeless, which serves all of Lake County.

Please consider this column to be your special invitation to attend the awards ceremony, since it is open to the public and the price is so reasonable.

The date is Jan. 27, which is a Monday and thus very convenient for almost everyone.

It will be a luncheon program, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Don’t be late, or we may start without you. It will be held at Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe, an elegant setting for such an affair.

Parking will be easy. Why? There will be no golfers cluttering up the parking lot in January. (No offense. I am one of them myself on occasion.)

Tickets are $20 each and the food there is terrific. Please make your reservation in advance. You can do that by calling Clarissa at Merhar’s Nationwide Insurance Agency in Willoughby at 440-946-2040 to reserve your place.

(If you are a member of the Willoughby Rotary Club, you have already paid for your lunch.)

The proud history of honoring citizens and civic organizations in the Willoughby area goes back to 1956.

In 2006, however, the Willoughby Chamber of Commerce decided to concentrate its awards solely on business people and business organizations, so the Rotary Club agreed to take over the two awards that will be handed out Jan. 27. The divided arrangement has worked out very well for both the Chamber and Rotary.

I can tell you that the Rotary organization is very proud of its two honorees — as the Chamber is of its honorees.

Roger Sustar is the embodiment of everything that a good citizen and a Great American should be. He is the owner of Fredon Corp. in Mentor, and the list of his accomplishments is much too lengthy for this space.

In addition to running a highly successful company, he is also the founder of a high-profile organization called the Alliance for Working Together. He sponsors an award-winning program called “The Cannons of Fredon.”

He was once referred to as a “manufacturing maven” by no less an authority than Crane’s Cleveland Business publication.

Roger’s daughter, Alyson Scott, a top corporate officer at Fredon (who will probably be running the company someday) gave an inspiring talk at a management lecture at Lakeland Community College a few months ago during which she referred to seven top qualities embodied in her father, and which contribute greatly to his success.

The one she saved for last, which she called “my favorite one of all,” was “moxie.”

We were in the audience that evening, sitting with Roger and Judy, her parents, and when Alyson said that, I turned to the lady of the house and remarked, “Isn’t that terrific! It’s the perfect word to describe what makes Roger tick.”

By way of background, the Rotary Club has a committee of seven who make the “distinguished” selections. The group includes six Rotarians (Jerry Merhar, Bob Riggin, Dale Fellows, Rick Stenger and Sue Roseum, plus your humble servant).

The seventh member is John Tigue Jr., “on loan” from the Lions Club, because he is perfect for the job. He is a former “distinguished” recipient himself and he knows everybody who is anybody in the entire area.
It was Bob Riggin who nominated Roger Sustar for the honor.

“But wasn’t he already honored as ‘distinguished’ by the Mentor Chamber of Commerce?” someone piped up.

“Yes,” came the response, “because his company is in Mentor. But he lives in Waite Hill, and that is our area.”

And, I thought, how perfect is that! Of course he should also be honored in the Willoughby area.

Now, let it be said that Project Hope is a perfect nominee for the second honor. But I have taken far too much space telling you about Roger, so I shall deal with the Distinguished Civic Organization next Sunday.

Remember, the date is Jan. 27. The time is 11:30 a.m., at Pine Ridge. Tickets are $20 each. For a reservation call 440-946-2040 and ask for Clarissa.

You are invited. And bring a couple of friends. I will be looking for you there. I guarantee you will have a great time.

And the honorees will be glad you came. They are so deserving of the honor.


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