VERSAILLES — The Versailles Area Chamber of Commerce has named Jerome F. Bey Jr. the 2017 Citizen of the Year.
Bey is a lifelong resident of Versailles, where he attended St. Denis Catholic School and Versailles High School. Upon his 1970 graduation he enlisted in the United States Navy. From 1970 – 1974 most of his time was spent serving on the Guided Missile Escort Ship, U.S.S. Julius A. Furer. He served three Mediterranean tours, one NATO tour of duty, and received an honorable discharge in 1974.
Bey has devoted much of his community service through his 40 year membership with the Versailles American Legion Post 435, having served as commander, and a present day trustee. Through the American Legion, Bey serves as a member of the Honor Guard for Military funerals, football games, and veterans assemblies. For the past 15 years he served as master of ceremonies each Memorial Day and coordinating the village’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.
Beyond Bey’s military affiliation he graduated a Darke County Leadership Program and served many years mentoring Versailles youths as a Cub Scout Den Leader and assistant Scoutmaster. When the Versailles Swimming Pool required renovation of its gutter system, plumbing and roof Bey co-chaired the project with the fundraising, implementation and its completion.
Bey continued to put his talents and spirit of civic responsibility to good use when he served 10 years on the Poultry Days Committee. After eight years he became the 1997 Poultry Days Chairman and served his final year as past chairman. During his years of service he transitioned from cafeteria type serving of applesauce and chips to sealed portions and implemented electrical improvements for the vendors. He has also volunteered at the school working in set design for High School Musicals, such as “Grease,” “Peter Pan” and” Singing in the Rain.”
Since his recent retirement Bey serves a weekday Mass and assists with funeral Masses at St. Denis Church and has found time for a part time job at Ace Hardware of Versailles.
Bey and his wife Bonita have been married for 46 years, have six children and their spouses, Jerry and Sundra, A.J. and Cindy, Lisa and Chris Heid, Sandy and Mark Buynak, Benjamin and Emily and Antony who is in the United States Navy, and 18 grandchildren.
Bey even served two terms (four years) on the Versailles Development Association which is now known as the Versailles Area Chamber of Commerce — the organization presenting him with the distinction of Citizen of the Year. Jerry will be honored at the VACC annual banquet on Monday evening, Jan. 30, at the Riviera Room of the Stillwater Valley Golf Course. The banquet will also include the presentation of the People – Pride – Progress Award to the Versailles Towne & Country Players theater group. The banquet is open to the public.
Those wishing to attend the banquet may contact Fred Poeppelman at 937-417-4752 (call or text) no later than Jan. 26. Banquet dinner tickets are $20 per person. A cash bar will open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served at 6:15 p.m.