DES MOINES - Esther Bielema, a community leader and dedicated volunteer from Wall Lake, was all smiles when she was honored as an of the Day for the 2012 Iowa State Fair.
"I was shocked when I got the call that I was named Iowan of the Day," said Bielema, of the Wall Lake Historical Society who has spearheaded many community projects, including the restoration of the town's railroad depot and the birthplace of famous singer Andy Williams. "I had no idea I would be selected for anything like this."
Since 1997, the Iowan of the Day allows the Iowa State Fair's Blue Ribbon Foundation to recognize people who have made a difference in others' lives while upholding characteristics associated with Iowa, including dependability, integrity, hard work and sense of community. As an Iowan of the Day, Bielema received a one night's stay at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott, a cash prize, grandstand tickets and the use of the Iowan of the Day golf cart at the Iowa State Fair.
Speed Herrig, of Wall Lake, presented Bielema with her award on behalf of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products on Aug. 9 at the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. "People like Esther keep Iowa's small, rural communities going. They step forward and get things rolling. Esther's generosity and dedication to Wall Lake make her a well-deserving of the Day."
Spirit of service
Bielema, a 1944 graduate of Wall Lake High School, has been a vital part of the Wall Lake community for many years. She is a member of Women's Club, a longtime member of her church's Circle and has served numerous terms as Clerk of Session for her church. She has also demonstrated a strong work ethic as the parliamentarian of the Wall Lake American Legion Auxiliary, where she has been a member for 65 years.
"Esther is always very helpful and community-minded," said Auxiliary President Shirley Petschauer, who nominated Bielema for the Iowan of the Day award. "She truly loves her community and is always quick to say yes to anyone."
A elementary school teacher, Bielema has made a positive impact on the youth in the area for decades. She continues to teach Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, and also gives rides to people who are unable to drive to worship services on Sunday mornings.
"I like the fact that Wall Lake is a close-knit community," said Bielema, whose son, Brian, and granddaughter, Lindsay King, also live in Wall Lake. "I'm proud to call Wall Lake home."