CAMANCHE — The six Wiebers brothers recently were given the 2007 Governor’s Award for Commitment to Community Service.

The award is presented to a fire service representative who has provided significant, long-term contributions to the community including contributions to the fire department and contributions to the community in areas not directly associated with fire service. The nominee must have served as an active member in good standing of an Iowa volunteer fire department for a minimum of 15 years.

The brothers, Russ, Jerry, Tom, Ronnie, Charlie and Frank, were nominated for the award by the Camanche Fire Department Executive Board in honor of serving the department for more than 120 years combined, spanning four decades. The brothers’ service began when Jerry joined the department in 1966. While their official tenure with the fire department ended in 1992 with the retirement of Jerry, Tom, Ronnie and Russ, the brothers service to the department and the community continues.

In the nomination letter, the board lists some of the brothers’ many contributions to the fire department and the community.

“While these six men have been a tremendous asset to our department, they have also had a positive impact in our community,” the board wrote. “During the 40 years of their various careers, they were involved with raising more than $200,000 for MDA.”

Muscular Dystrophy Association District Director Doug Bickford wrote a letter of support for the award.

“Ever since the fundraiser’s inception 27 years ago, the Wiebers have had a hand in the success of the annual pancake breakfast, with proceeds benefiting MDA. Literally half the town of Camanche attends this event every year, and if it were not for the Wiebers, this event would not exist,” wrote Bickford. “Jerry’s Kids and adults with muscular dystrophy are indebted to the Wiebers brothers for their selflessness, volunteer hours and compassion for our cause.”

In addition, the Wiebers brothers are also heavily involved in the Secret Santa Program, making gift baskets and delivering them to area residents such as those who are alone during the holidays. They assist the VFW to make sure all of the flags get put up and maintained during the necessary holidays. A camp out on the Mississippi River with their father in 1974 became an annual father and son camp out that continues today and involves 80 or more campers each year.

The brothers put their love of the outdoors and fishing to good use by sponsoring an annual catfish supper and donate the proceeds to the MDA. As members of the AMVETS Post 28 in Clinton, the brothers donate fish and cook at a catfish supper that feeds more than 200 people annually and raises funds for the post.

“In July we have a chicken/fish fry — clearly our biggest single event of the year. This is where members of the Camanche Fire Department — including several of the Wiebers Boys come forward and contribute their time, effort and talent to ensure the operation is a success. They provide a generous quantity of cleaned catfish and then donate their time and equipment to prepare it. Their only payment is a thank you and knowing they helped a veterans’ group achieve a goal,” AMVETS Post 28 Commander Verne Drews wrote in a nomination letter. “We know that we are only one organization among many in the area that receives help from the Camanche Fire Department and the Wiebers Boys... They are a true example of People Helping People. We are fortunate to have them living in our area.”

The Camanche Fire Department Executive Board noted the brothers exemplify the very nature of the award.

“While this award is generally reserved for individual accomplishments, we feel it is very appropriate to recognize these men as a group or family. These men could easily qualify on their individual merits, however as a group of brothers their service and dedication is second to none. We believe the Wiebers brothers are excellent candidates for this recognition,” the nomination letter said.

At the awards ceremony two weeks ago, Fire Service Bureau Chief Randy Novak acknowledged the three letters of endorsement, praise and recommendation for the Wiebers brothers to receive the award. In commenting on the brothers’ four decades of service and continued contributions to the Camanche Volunteer Fire Department, Novak joked that “it’s like they served and never left.” He called the six Wiebers brothers a prime example of what the Governor’s Award for Commitment to Community Service is for.

Five of the six brothers attended the ceremony, as Charlie moved to Texas years ago. After presentation of the award by State Fire Marshal Jim Kenkel, Jerry took the podium and joked that his brothers nominated him to give the speech as he was the first to join the fire department. Jerry told the audience that when he learned of receiving the award, he told fellow fireman Vern Deters that he was speechless. He said Deters replied, “Well, then they should have given you this award years ago.”

Jerry said that throughout the years, the brothers did everything together from chores and paper routes to fishing, watching football and working on projects together.

“What makes this award extra special is that the six of us got it together. It means more that way... it’s just fitting that we get this award together,” he said. He added that the award means a great deal to the six brothers because the nomination came from their brothers on the fire department.

“That tells me something about the guys on our fire department that think enough of us that they would go to the trouble to nominate us for this award.”

On behalf of himself and his brothers, Jerry thanked the Fire Marshal’s office and the selection committee for honoring them and said they are proud and happy to receive the award. He thanked all members of the Camanche Fire Department, past and present, as well as Camanche Fire Chief Dave Schutte and Assistant Chief Bob Alm. Jerry offered a special thank you to the brothers’ wives and children for their patience and understanding of their work as firemen over the years.

Schutte said the city of Camanche and the Camanche Volunteer Fire Department are proud of the Wiebers brothers and are grateful for their service.

“It’s a tremendous honor for the Wiebers brothers, but it’s also a tremendous honor for the city. It’s certainly an honor for us, the fire department,” said Schutte. “They’ve been a tremendous asset to this department for four decades and they still help us out. So, we appreciate everything they've done.”

For the brothers to attend the ceremony, a fund-raising effort was spearheaded by businessman Tom Determann, who called around to other Camanche business owners to solicit donations to pay for travel expenses.

“With his help and the help of local businesses, they didn’t have to pay for their room or board or anything, their trip out there. So, we certainly appreciate that,” said Schutte.

Alm, a long-time friend and co-worker of the brothers, said they have been an inspiration for many on the fire department and in the community.

“Congratulations to Charlie, Tom, Jerry, Russ, Frank and Ronnie on receiving the Governor’s Award for Community Service. For as long as I have known them they have always been community-minded,” Alm said.

“While serving the community and the fire department they have always been role models for our members. Their service and contributions to the department have been a foundation for me and the members of the fire department. They continue to assist the department on a regular basis with department activities and events. They are a fun, hard-working bunch of guys and I enjoy spending time with them and their families.”