Hadley, (Mrs!) Combs, Fuson earn BOTY, Ozzie, John Cross awards

Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: John Braden
Status: Current
Date Posted: Sat, Jan 15 2022
By John Braden

Hardworking chapter secretary Tom Hadley was named 2021 Barbershopper of the Year, while Jennifer "Jeffi" Combs earned the Oz Newgard Award and chapter jack of all trades Don Fuson received the 2021 John Cross Award at HOA's Installation and Awards Banquet Jan. 8.

Barbershopper of the Year -- The chapter annually recognizes and honors certain members for significant and meritorious service as the Barbershopper of the Year. There have been 75 winners of the Barbershopper of the Year -- or its previous titles of Man of the Year, Honor Night winner and Achievement Award winner. The 2020 winner was Marlin Weidler.

In the relatively short time that Tom Hadley has been an HOA member -- since 2018 -- he has jumped in with both feet, to quote President Mike Schumacher. Tom has been a quartet lead, in charge of volunteers for several years at the Golf Scramble, has worked at Harmony Explosion for three years pre-pandemic, has taken over the fundraising ticket sales and marbles drawing and is beginning his fourth year as chapter secretary. Couple that with a perpetual sunny attitude and a repertoire of dumb jokes and you have Tom, the 2021 Barbershopper of the Year.

The Oz Newgard Award -- the "Ozzie," was initiated by the Rural Route 4 to honor their coach M.O. "Oz" Newgard, a former director of the Alexandria Harmonizers and a senior sound judge who helped HOA to its first Central States District chorus title. The Ozzie is presented to an individual who has provided outstanding musical service to the chapter and chorus. The previous winner, Bob Velazquez in 2017, turned in the big traveling trophy to the next winner.

This year's winner of the Ozzie, Jeffi Combs, is the second woman to win the award, after 1998's nomination of chorus and quartet coach Harriet Gall. Her spouse, HOA director and tenor Carter Combs, won the Ozzie in 2005.

Jeffi, a member of the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines, was chosen for her regular and consistent support over the years that has bolstered the musical morale of the Heart of America Chorus. This includes considerable financial support of HOA fundraising projects through sponsorships of the annual Golf Scramble, and advertising in HOA show programs on behalf of her aptly named business, In Harmony Therapeutic Massage LLC. As a proponent of our show preparations, for the last umpty-ump years, Jeffi has led assembly of lunches for the Caroling Caravan and overseen lunches for HOA shows since the demise of the Heartbeats. She is certainly not the only HOA spouse who contributes considerable time and effort to support the chapter, but she is perhaps the most notable for her unfailingly sunny disposition and her incomparable snickerdoodle cookies.

The John Cross Award is presented annually to the HOA member with the best attendance record and who is always on hand to take on the job no one else wants. The first award was presented in 1989 to John Cross himself, a full 33 years after he was named Barbershopper of the Year. Since then, there have been 31 John Cross Awards made. Last year's winner was Ron McIntire.

Don Fuson joined the Society in 2000. While being a Barbershopper for "only" 21 years, he has managed to take on jobs most members find inconceivable. He is a registered quartetter, past District Seniors Quartet Champ and International Seniors Chorus Champ. Less importantly, he is past chapter and Central States District president, International Board member and International president in 2015-2016. Recently Don has been serving as chapter Membership Vice President and has been the go-to guy for everything from extra copies of music to photos for the Facebook page.

Joe remains on the shelf in 2021

Joe Stern Award -- Because of the significance of this honor, this year the Joe Stern Award panel voted to make no 2021 award. Our chapter's most prestigious award, the Joe Stern Lifetime Achievement Award, is named for a man who was a major influence on the Kansas City Chapter of SPEBSQSA and on Barbershopping as a whole.