By Brooke Sherrard
The Daily Iowegian
---- — The fourth annual Cline Medal, presented March 28 at the Appanoose Economic Development Corporation banquet, honored Virginia Padovan.
The Cline Medal recognizes a citizen who has invested a great deal in the betterment of Appanoose County, which can mean financial contributions, volunteer work or both, according to AEDC Executive Director Tod Faris.
“She has been a tireless ambassador and advocate for Centerville,” said Ann Young, vice president of Mercy Medical Center. “Not only does she volunteer for so many organizations, she is a philanthropist herself, and she and her sisters gave to many, many causes and established many scholarships.”
Young said she knew Padovan through her work with the YMCA and the Republican Party but also knew that was only a small fraction of Padovan’s involvement.
“Every time I am around people they mention Virginia helping with this and Virginia helping with that,” she said.
Padovan said she had no idea she would be receiving an award. Her neighbor, Dianne Senior, invited her to the banquet, saying she thought her husband, Centerville Mayor Jim Senior, might be receiving an award and they wanted Padovan to be their guest.
She never expected to hear her own name called.
“I was never so shocked in my life,” she said. “I was absolutely floored — I had no idea what to say.”
Padovan grew up in this area and returned here after a long career. After graduating from Numa High School she headed off to college at the University of Iowa. She taught for 43 years, mostly in Burlington, before retiring to Centerville.
The main reason she came back was to take care of her mother, who was living in the house in Centerville that her father purchased in 1945 where Padovan still lives today. Two of her sisters also retired to Centerville, and for many years all three of them volunteered extensively. Padovan, 93, is the only one still living.
She said her father, who was born in Italy and worked in coal mines in Appanoose County, was a big influence on her.
“Dad didn’t know a stranger, and I think maybe we got that from him primarily,” she said. “Get out and do something — don’t just be sitting around.”
Soon after Padovan returned to the area in 1984, Nancy Bennett asked if she would serve on a committee working to preserve the Second Baptist Church. Through that committee, she met other people and kept getting involved in more and more activities, including the concert series, the library board, the YMCA board and the museum.
Padovan is one of the organizers of the Historic Preservation Corporation’s Drive-Thru Dinners the first Thursday of each month that raise money to maintain the trolley. She is in charge of the publicity and often helps with the cooking.
One way she has continued her work from Burlington is by serving on scholarship committees. In Burlington she was scholarship chairwoman for about a decade, overseeing a program that served 1800 students. She served on the Hy-Vee Scholarship committee for 33 years and the national Modern Woodmen of America Scholarship committee for 25 years.
Here she serves on the Appanoose County Foundation, which gives several scholarships.
“Helping people get an education, especially those who can’t afford it, has been one of my primary goals in life,” she said.
Padovan also loves bird watching and is an active member of the Rathbun Area Bird Club, which meets on Sundays at Sharon Bluffs.
Padovan said she considers life a learning experience and continues to try new activities and learn new things.
“I just want to see our community grow and just like Morgan Cline I want to do everything I can to make it a city people are proud of,” she said.
The Cline Medal was first awarded in 2010 to Morgan Cline, the award’s namesake, to acknowledge his contributions to Appanoose County’s economic development. His contributions include preserving historic buildings, developing medical facilities and encouraging new business.
The second Cline Medal was awarded to Rob Lind, owner of Centerville Greenhouses & Nursery, and the third was awarded to Frank Reznicek, owner of Owl Pharmacy.