Volume No. 15 Issue No. 9 September 2018  

  Keeper of the Keys

     The Black Forest Keeper of the Keys project started in 1960, in conjunction with the Black Forest Festival, to recognize and honor couples and/or individuals for their service to Black Forest.
   According to the Black Forest Community Club, Jim and Ana Mae Hawkins created seven keys, which were cut from wood and covered with embossed copper; tiny copper nails fastened the copper to the wooden keys. Each key depicts a different theme, such as storms and blue skies, the changing beauty of trees and meadows, bird songs, music of the waters and the spirit of neighborliness, to name a few.
   Gwen Burk, who is the daughter of the Hawkins, said originally they called the key program “Keeper of the Forest,” with a goal to recognize the “old timers” and what they had done for the community. Seven people from the community were nominated as counselors and one was named the Keeper of the Keys. In 1960, Wayne Rusk was named the first Keeper.
   Each Keeper has his or her own legacy and story to tell.
   The Keeper of the Keys award was discontinued from 1968 to 1985 because of a lack of interest, said Lavonne Hidy, Black Forest resident and 2007 Keeper of the Keys. The Black Forest Community Club brought it back again in 1986, and Anna Mae Hawkins was awarded the Keeper that year.
   The 2018 Keeper of the Keys ceremony, along with a potluck was held Aug. 5 at the community center. Past Keeper of the Keys recipients participated in the event. Ruth Ann Steele (KOK 1994) played the piano as people arrived; Leif Garrison (KOK 2016) served as the master of ceremonies; and Judy von Ahlefeldt (KOK 1998) read a poem. The Forest Chorus entertained the crowd with a medley of songs.
   A garland of keys hanging above the main table were made by Burk, and Hidy created the table arrangements, which were given to attendees.
   Don Root was awarded the Keeper of the Keys for 2018-2019; Mike and Janet Fortner were named as the counselors. Root received seven keys on a ring, a staff and a certificate. The keys are in the custody of the Keeper for one year and stored in a wood box lined with velvet. Leif Garrison said, “We honor all who are nominated, but we can only give one person or couple the keys.”
Don Root was named the 2018-2019 Black Forest Keeper of the Keys.
Mike and Janet Fortner were named the 2018-2019 counselors to the Keeper of the Keys.
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