When Cindy and John Terwilliger were asked to come to the Nisswa Area Historical Society’s Pioneer Village — John to fix the school bell rope and Cindy to take inventory — they did what they always do.
They said yes, and they showed up.
Before they got too far into their tasks Thursday, Aug. 23, the Terwilligers were surprised with flowers and the announcement that they were chosen as the 2012 Nisswa Citizens of the Year for their volunteer work for the area.
“It’s fun. Look at the people you meet,” Cindy said of volunteering.
The Terwilligers live in Lake Shore, where John is mayor and Cindy is a Parks and Recreation Board member. They are members of the Gull Lake Drifters snowmobile club and the Nisswa Area Historical Society. Cindy is organizational leader of the Black Bear 4-H Club in Nisswa. She is involved with the County 4-H Federation as an adult volunteer and has served on numerous county 4-H committees. John lends a helping hand with 4-H activities whenever he’s needed.
“She will do anything she can to make Nisswa and the lakes area a better place for people who are coming here for vacation or the ones who already live here,” said one Citizen of the Year nomination letter.
“Cindy has a passion for 4-H and the youth that are involved in the program,” said another.
Yet another nomination said the Terwilligers have put in many volunteer hours to beautify and make Fritz Loven Park in Lake Shore a welcome place for visitors.
Another said the Terwilligers are reliable, always willing to help with any job, large or small, and can always be counted on to show up for the work and devote 100 percent effort to it.
John and Cindy both grew up in Home Brook Township and have known each other since they were young children. Both attended Nisswa Elementary School and graduated from Pillager High School. They lived in Waseca for six years and Wadena for 20 years before moving to their lake home in Lake Shore.
“We always knew we wanted to live here,” Cindy said of the area where they grew up.
Cindy became a member of the Gull Lake Drifters at age 12 and her parents were charter members.
“It has meaning to me,” she said of the club. “And I like to snowmobile.”
Both are board members, and Cindy is secretary and John is trail coordinator, groomer operator coordinator and a groomer operator.
Cindy is a founding member of the Black Bear 4-H Club, which formed in 1998. She was in 4-H as a child, as were their children.
“And I wanted that to be an option here as a way for me to meet people that would be like-minded,” Cindy said. “If I can help in some way, that, to me, is something I should do.”
Cindy also is secretary of the Nisswa Area Historical Society board.
“I got involved because of the garden. I said, ‘This is a neat place but stark. It needs a garden,” she said.
So her Black Bear 4-H Club created and cares for the Heritage Garden at the Pioneer Village. The garden includes flowers from the home where Cindy grew up.
The couple frequently cleans the park trails in Lake Shore, helps clear roads after storms and picks up litter. John told the parks board that County Road 77 was dangerous and the residents needed a trail.
“That was the impetus for this (Trail 77 Team) group,” Cindy said.
The Terwilligers have two children: Becky, who lives in Alexandria with her husband and two children; and Lee, who also lives in Alexandria.
The Terwilligers are involved in numerous other volunteer activities as well and often donate items to various fundraisers.