With an empty classroom, the last thing former Brainerd mayor and current Brainerd High School marketing instructor Bonnie Cumberland expected to see today was a group of people at her door holding balloons and chocolate.
Cumberland never expected that she had been named 2001 Brainerd Citizen of the Year.
"This is amazing, this really is," said a shocked Cumberland when told of her award by Nancy Cross, executive director of Brainerd Community Action. "This is just remarkable, there are so many deserving people."
Even a few minutes after realizing she had won the award, Cumberland said her heart was still pounding.
"It's such an honor when you think of all the people in the community who make it such a great place to live," she added.
Cumberland, a teacher at Brainerd High School since 1968, currently is a marketing instructor, on-the-job training coordinator and DECA adviser. She is also an adjunct instructor at St. Cloud State University.
From 1991-1999, Cumberland served as mayor of Brainerd. During that time, she also was on the League of Minnesota Cities Land Use, Energy, Environment and Transportation Committee; the LMC Future's Committee; the LMC Nominating Committee; co-chair of the LMC Improving Local Economics Legislative Policy Committee; and was president of Minnesota Mayor's Association.
Current Brainerd Mayor James Wallin and Brainerd City Administrator Dan Vogt were on hand for the presentation.
"She's very deserving of this award," said Wallin. "It couldn't have happened to a nicer lady." Vogt echoed Wallin's statement: "It's well deserved."
Awards are nothing new to Cumberland. She has been a Brainerd Education Association teacher of the year candidate three times, was Business Economics Education Foundation teacher of the year in 1985, was the 1987 Minnesota Secondary Marketing Teacher of the year and earned the 1994 DECA outstanding marketing service award.
Cumberland is also a Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Layperson Award winner, the 1987 BLACC Athena Award winner, the 1988 Creative Leadership in Women's Rights Award winner, the 1998 C.C. Ludwig Award recipient from the LMC and the 1998 City of Brainerd Tower Award recipient.
Cumberland serves on a variety of committees, including the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission, the Brainerd Parking Commission, the Kid's Vote Committee, Camp Ripley Citizen's Committee, Brainerd Savings and Loan Board of Directors, the Crow Wing County Historical Society Board of Directors, the Skateboard Park Committee, Central Lakes College Advisory Committee, the Friends of the Library Committee and the Paul Bunyan Nature Learning Center Board.
She also is a Human Rights Commission volunteer organizer, Youth Advisory Committee organizer and mentor, South East Brainerd Residents Association adviser, cancer walks participant, Junior Achievement program leader, Right Friends Volunteer and adviser, Sexual Assault Services volunteer and a reader at elementary schools.
Cumberland earned a bachelor of science degree in distributive education from the University of Minnesota in 1968, and a master of arts degree in distributive education curriculum from the University of Minnesota in 1975.
Cumberland will be honored at the Distinguished Service Awards Banquet Nov. 19. Awards will also be given for Outstanding Young Citizen, Outstanding Educator, Outstanding Youth Volunteer, Outstanding Young Farmer, Outstanding Firefighter, Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer, Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year and Outstanding Child Care Provider.
Cumberland joins 27 other outstanding Brainerd citizens who have been named Citizen of the Year.
That list includes: Elmer Johnson (1974), Marvin Campbell (1975), George Bedard (1976), Mildred Michaelis (1977), Herb Kessler (1978), Lucille Shaw (1979), Walter Doran (1980), Ray Bang (1981), Jack Echternacht (1982), Pete Humphrey (1983), Ray Madison (1984), Birney Wilkens (1985), Jack Ruttger (1986), Bob Gross (1987), Marv Nutting (1988), Sara Dunlap (1989), Tom Isle (1990), Dick Endres (1991), Bill Van Essen (1992), Hanspeter Borgwarth (1993), Jon Haapajoki (1994), Arnie Johnson (1995), Sister Vivian Arts (1996), Warren Williams (1997), Ruth Gmeinder (1998), Kevin Thesing (1999) and Terry McCollough (2000).
The Citizen of the Year is chosen by a selection committee made up of past Citizens of the Year and representatives from the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce, the Crow Wing County volunteer coordinator, financial institutions, clergy, businesses, labor, and Community Action board members. The general criteria for the award is that the nominee volunteer services are above and beyond normal employment or business pursuits and the services performed contributed to the welfare of the Brainerd/Baxter trade area.
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