By David Denson, Gary Crusader
One of the most revered breakfast events in the Midwest will take place Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. in Gary, Indiana. It’s the 39th Annual Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Memorial Breakfast hosted by the Gary Frontiers Service Club in the Gary Genesis Center.
The theme of the breakfast is centered on Dr. King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon given on February 4, 1968 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. In the sermon Dr. King encouraged his congregation to seek greatness through service and love. In remembrance of Dr. King’s service, the Gary Frontiers Service Club annually recognizes individuals who have shown a personal commitment and dedication to serving others. This year, seven individuals have been nominated as Dr. Martin Luther King Marchers, who will now also be considered for recipients of the distinguished Drum Major Award.
Although the significance of the number seven denoting completeness or perfection is often debated, there was no long drawn out debate or discussion about these outstanding individuals. Their lifetime of dedication to service has been to make others whole and fulfilled.
In the tradition of the Gary Frontiers Service Club Dr. Martin Luther L. King Jr. breakfast, guests will have the privilege of hearing brief remarks from representatives of municipal, state, and federal governments. Yokefellow Oliver Gilliam, president of the Gary Frontiers Service Club, Inc., along with fellow Marchers will then recognize these seven individuals in a formal program that has grown into a magnificent ceremony steeped in solemn reverence for service.
The honorees are Earmon J. Irons, Jr., Roma Ivey, Henry L. Jones, Dharathula “Dolly” T. Harris, Dr. Janet Seabrook, Mark Spencer and Chareice White.
The 2018 Drum Major Award Recipients are:
Earmon J. Irons, Jr. is a graduate of Roosevelt High School. He earned a degree in Applied Electrical Technology from Purdue University Calumet, served in the U.S. Army, spending most of his service time stationed in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as a graduate degree in Finance and International Economics from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. His professional career included Inland Steel Company, where after nearly 25 years, he became the first Black officer, with the title of Vice President of Business Development. Mr. Irons has earned the respect of his community for a variety of service contributions he has made while holding positions of responsibility. Although Earmon is “retired,” he continues to contribute his time, wisdom, experience and service to his church, his community and his family.
Roma Ivey was born and raised in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, graduated from Rankin High School and attended Carnegie Mellon University in Schenely Park. Upon moving to Gary, Indiana, she attended the Gary Business College. In 1957, she began her career at the Gary Public Library Main Branch, which led to her becoming the first Black person to work at the Circulation desk. From there she eventually became the Interim Director. Along the way she galvanized relationships in the library community for which she is still respected and held in high esteem. She is also the recipient of the Gary History Maker Award, a member of Christ Baptist Church and the Gary Historical Society.
When Henry L. Jones’ parents moved to Gary before he finished high school, he returned to Memphis each year until he graduated at age 16. His career includes working at US Steel, being a Corporal in the U.S. Army, and a degree in Education from Indiana University in 1960. For 32 years he taught at Beckman Middle School, during those years, he earned a Masters Degree in Biology and a Masters Degree in Earth Science. The last 11 years of his teaching experience were at the Deep River Outdoor Education Center. After retirement, Henry engaged in a long-held desire to write short stories for children, gardening and helping with youth activities at First A.M.E. Church.
Dharathula “Dolly” T. Harris is the Administrative Assistant to the Parks Superintendent for the City of Gary Parks Department. Harris holds degrees from Purdue University in Management/Marketing and also Management-Account. She has served as the Central Region’s Treasurer, International Treasurer and Financial Secretary for the Sigma Gammo Rho Sorority. Her social affiliations include the Friends of Emerson, the Gary National Council of Negro Women, St. Augustine Episcopal Church, and the Urban League of NWI. She volunteers at a tax assistance program, the March of Dimes and reads to students at the Gary Literacy Coalition.
Dr. Janet Seabrook earned her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1994 from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Seabrook also has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Purdue University Calumet and a Bachelor of Science degree from Tuskegee University. She spent the next 10 years working as a staff physician and also in Urgent Care. Dr. Seabrook founded Community HealthNet, which was at first known as the Gary Community Health Center, which she helped start in 1996. In the years since, Community HealthNet has grown to several facilities that provide a wide variety of important medical care.
Mark Spencer, a Gary native, began his career as a teacher of speech and drama, spending over 25 years in the classroom and as an administrator of arts and theater. In 2004, Spencer put his love of films to good use by directing and producing his first feature, “Posin’.” Over the next four years, he directed and produced a number of other films. Mark has been awarded numerous awards and recognitions for his service and his work in the arts from professional, educational and civic organizations. Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater from Indiana University Northwest, a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Calumet College of St. Joseph, a Master of Education degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and has an Honorary Doctorate degree bestowed upon him from GMOR Theological Institute.
Chareice White is the owner of Reice Communications. She served as director of Government, Community and Public Relations and a lobbyist for Majestic Star Casino and Hotel in Gary and Fitzgeralds Casino Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi. White is Founder and Chairman of the Board of ECIER Foundation, which provides structured education program encouraging and teaching youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. Under the direction of White, the Foundation has provided scholarships to high school seniors. She is very active in the community and severes on several boards.