The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 4, 2013

Honoring southeast Iowa's 'everyday heroes'


Andrew Woodard, of Elliott Oil, said Ruth Seim, known around town as the “Mother Superior” of music, “has always been there to serve.” Seim worked as a music teacher in the Ottumwa school district for decades, teaching between 500 and 600 children every year, and while she’s now retired, she continues to play piano at music contests, churches and for choirs.

“I didn’t know I was going to be talking this morning — I’d rather play piano,” Seim laughed.

Jon Pedersen, of Mediacom, said there is no mistaking Payne — more commonly known throughout Ottumwa as Dizzy the Clown — when she shows up with her wig, makeup and her infectious laughter. Payne takes her humor therapy to patients at the hospital, leads anti-bullying assemblies at schools, and started a “Clown Ministry” for churches and Bible schools and camps.

“Dizzy the Clown has become a fixture in southeast Iowa,” he said. “Her work is serious, but it doesn’t mean she can’t have fun doing it. Of those she touches, she makes their lives that much brighter.”

Payne said her work as Dizzy is a “gift from God” that allows her to go out into the community to teach, help and entertain.

Sauer and Smith were among the first people to respond to a single-engine aircraft crash at Ottumwa Regional Airport on June 30, 2011. Sauer helped pull the pilot out of the plane; Smith then began providing first aid. Though the pilot eventually died from his injuries, Tom Lazio said the pair “acted without fear for their own safety for someone they didn’t know.”

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