It was years in the making, but on Thursday, Gary Crowder was named the Citizen of the Year at the Greater Shelbyville Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner.
Jeff Long, the editor of the Shelbyville Daily Union, present the award. The local newspaper sponsors the annual award.
Crowder was down sick with the flu and was unable to attend. Chamber President Gary Hayden accepted the award for Crowder.
“Gary wanted me to pass on to everyone, that he loves being a citizen of Shelbyville and working with all of you,” Hayden relayed. “That is why he loves continuing to announce the games. It is a well-deserved honor for him.”
Those who live in Shelbyville, who don’t know who Gary Crowder is, must have lived under a rock. Crowder and his family moved to Shelbyville when he was in 1st grade. He grew up in Shelbyville, played football and wrestled for Coach Tom Brachbill. Crowder graduated from Shelbyville High School.
Since that time, 1967, Crowder has stayed physically fit. His daughter Amber can’t remember more than one or two days when Crowder, now 70, has not worked out.
After two years at Lake Land College, he graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation. He joined the Olney police force and a year later, 1973, joined the Shelbyville police force and rose over the years to the rank of Chief of Police.
Crowder Chief of Police for about eight years, retiring after 21 years on the force in 2000. He joined the Shelby County Sheriff’es Office as court security in 2011.
Crowder was elected the Mayor of Shelbyville in 2003 and served one term (2003-2007). During that time he continued to work full-time for the Sheriff’s Office. Crowder continues to work security at the Shelby County Courthouse.
That’s not all Crowder is known for around town. Crowder has been a lay speaker through the United Methodist Church for decades. He has filled in preaching at churches across denominational lines, officiating funerals for people in the area and visiting the nursing homes almost every week.
He and his wife Diane, who have been married 49 years, may be best known to people in town and outside Shelbyville as the announcers at the Shelbyville High School boys and girls basketball games, volleyball matches, wrestling matches, and football games. The duo has worked as volunteers at the announcer’s table since 1984 for 36 years.
“It really is a team effort,” Crowder said. “Diane is a tremendous asset. She is a spotter for football and statistician for volleyball and basketball. In wrestling when we have two mats going it’s hard for me to know what’s going on and she watches the other mat.
“She went to football classes years ago taught by Coach Gerald Temples. It was mostly for mothers and women to learn more about football. She has been a student of volleyball, of course since our daughter played. She is really a wrestling fan. We both have loved doing it and sharing it with the community.”
The Citizen of the Year Award was not expected by Crowder.
“I think it’s a great honor and a surprise,” Crowder said. “I told my children that I believe there are many people in Shelbyville who are more worthy than I. There are so many people who contribute to the community and assist other people to make the community what it should be. Our part has been just a portion of that.
“Diane and I feel the community has given more to us than we have to them and we are thankful.”