OTTUMWA — Bob Morrissey’s first comments after the announcement he was the 2019 recipient of the Gene Schultz Community Service Award weren’t about what he did. They were about the man the award is named for.
“You know, I knew Gene,” Morrissey said. “What a neat guy. And I’m so proud to have something in his honor.”
Morrissey’s work spans a range of philanthropic and community organizations. The Ottumwa Symphony, Tenco and 100 Men on a Mission, for starters. But he is also known for his service to his church and other organizations.
His affection for Ottumwa came through as clearly as the broad grin on his face as he spoke.
“We, we love Ottumwa. Guys, we really do. Everything about it, really,” he said. “I tell people it’s one of the classiest places that I’ve ever been, because it’s a place where everybody works together. Doesn’t matter if you’re blue collar, white collar, no collar. You know, you’re going to make it here, if you want to.”
The annual award honors an Ottumwan who has given great service to the community, who lives out the legacy left by Schultz. Morrissey called Schultz “the best parter Ottumwa ever had,” and said he would be particularly pleased with developments like the Job Corps Center given his enthusiasm for education.
The award is given by the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce which, it was announced Thursday, will soon be undergoing its own changes. T.J. Heller, director of Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress, said it, the chamber and the Ottumwa Economic Development Corp., have reached “an agreement in principle” to merge.
The merger will mean legal consolidation of the three entities, a process that will take some time. Heller said there remains work to do.
“The plan still needs to be finalized,” he said.
The merger’s goal is to streamline operations and allowing the combined organization to focus clearly on economic development for Ottumwa. The Greater Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau, Main Street Ottumwa, and Bridge View Center, Inc., will be affiliate partners with the merged Partners in Progress.