A North Side business owner and the president of Viterbo University are the 2003 recipients of the annual Iverson Freking Ecumenical Recognition Award.
Randy Eddy Sr., owner of Carrier Insurance on Caledonia Street in Old Towne North, and Bill Medland, president of Viterbo since 1991, were announced as recipients Tuesday at a press conference at Bethany St. Joseph Care Center.
Bethany St. Joseph Corp. sponsors the award, initiated 17 years ago to recognize people who work to foster and promote ecumenical endeavors and reflect a positive commitment to the community. The award is named for the late Carl Iverson, a Lutheran, and the late Bishop Frederick Freking, a former administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse.
"It's pretty hard to put into words what this means," Eddy said, noting that some very impressive people are among the 36 past award recipients. "This just doesn't seem like it's me sitting here."
Medland, too, referred to the high caliber of past recipients.
"I was humbled and shocked by the announcement," he said, referring to an earlier meeting in November with BSJ administrator Tom Rand. "Initially, I though he must have the wrong person."
In his remarks, Rand said both men exemplify the qualities of previous honorees.
"They do so by putting their faith into action," Rand said. "Both of these gentlemen live faith-filled lives."
Eddy, a La Crosse native, has been involved in many projects to improve North Side neighborhoods and the business district of Old Towne North. Most recently, he has been working on the North Playground And Recreation for Kids project, a joint effort of several groups to bring new playground equipment to North Side schools.
Eddy was the 1997 La Crosse Riverfest commodore, and the 1995 Oktoberfest parade marshal.
Medland, who grew up in Logansport, Ind., said Viterbo has a strong Catholic, Franciscan and ecumenical culture on its campus and is proud that it draws students of all faiths. He said he believes that without understanding among people of all faiths, including Christians, Muslims and Jews, there can be no peace on Earth.
Both men said they would advise others to get involved in the community as a way to enhance their own lives as well as the lives of others.
"Life is infectious if you just give it a chance," Eddy said. "Many hands make light work, and you can make a difference."
The Iverson Freking Awards Banquet will be Saturday, Jan. 18, in the Radisson Center, La Crosse. For ticket information, call Bethany St. Joseph Care Center, (608) 788-5700. The deadline for reservations is Jan. 14, 2003.
Gayda can be reached at (608) 791-8224 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.