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Three women honored for civic service

The annual Soroptimist Women of Distinction awards were held Nov. 16 at the Gorge Room at the Hood River Inn. Shirley Ekker, Leila Crapper and Aileen Gaddy were honored for their service to the community in one of several categories.

Ekker was chosen for the award for her work in economic and social development. Nancy Moller, who introduced Ekker, spoke of her "long list of accomplishments" ranging from politics to agriculture.

Ekker, who was the first woman to serve as a Hood River County commissioner, was praised in an impromptu speech by Rodger Schock for her vision in the development of the Hood River Valley.

Crapper was honored with the award for a lifetime of work in economic and social development. She was introduced by Jean Harmon, who described her as "up to the elbows in work this lady always is." Harmon described a litany of work Crapper has accomplished with the American Legion, Special Olympics and Soroptimists -- itself a service organization.

Upon accepting the award, Crapper said, "Volunteering is a way of life. You can make it a burden or you can make it fun."

The third award was given to Gaddy for her work in the field of health. Gaddy, who was librarian at the Hood River County Library from the late 1960s until the 1980s, was appropriately introduced by current librarian June Knudson (although she was standing in for Barbara Young who was unable to be there). Knudson read remarks Young had prepared which described Gaddy's many years as a volunteer at the hospital as well as with Hospice of the Gorge.

"She is a consumate mother," Knudson said. "This mother never quits."

The Soroptimist Women of Distinction awards have been given annually since 1988. Prior to that, a similar award honoring local women for their service to community -- the Women Helping Women awards -- were given beginning in 1974.

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