Honorees

Jim Ryan, 2019 Citizen of the Year, and Shirley Rohrig, 2019 Long-time Resident, are honored at Friend’s Fourth of July celebration. 

The 2019 Friend Long-time Resident and Citizen of the Year were honored July 4 in the annual parade. 

This year, the recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award was Jim Ryan. 

“It was nice to receive the award and be able to wave to your friends and neighbors,” Ryan said. 

Although not originally from Friend, he has lived in town for the past 40 years. He started Brother Equipment in Friend with his brother Jerry around that time. 

Ryan is married to Sharon and they have five sons, including one who died from cancer. 

“I also have grandchildren and many great-grandchildren,” Ryan said. 

Ryan, who is 81, has been retired since he was 62 but keeps busy with many activities. He enjoys golfing, fishing and working with old tractors and machinery. 

He has been involved with the Friend Community Group since its inception in 1992 and the Community Redevelopment Authority since 2008 and is recently retired from both. 

Ryan attends St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Friend and is currently on the church board. 

The 2019 Long-time Resident award recipient is Shirley Rohrig. 

Although she was born in Lincoln in 1932, Rohrig lived eight miles outside of Friend and is an only child. 

She attended the District 47 Woodpecker School in the area and graduated from Friend High School in 1950. 

In 1951, she married her husband Gene and they moved to a farm three miles outside of Friend, where they lived until he died from bone cancer in 1987. 

They have three children. Rohrig has five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. 

“When I called and shared the news, they said ‘Oh, Mom, we’re so proud,’” Rohrig said. “I’ve got a good group of kids.”

She taught at Friend Public School as a para for 32 years and retired in 2002. 

Rohrig recounted her days growing up in Friend, including listening to the high school band play Wednesday evenings in the center of Maple Street and visiting the Green Top cafe, which was open 24 hours a day. 

Rohrig is active at the Friend United Methodist Church. She is a member of the Friend Country Club, Warren Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and has been president of the Friend Legion Auxiliary Post 183 in the past. 

“The hospital has close memories to me,” Rohrig said. “My three children were born there, my parents passed there and my husband.”

Rohrig enjoys spending time with her girlfriends having coffee and is looking forward to a golf outing in Friend with her entire family the weekend before Labor Day. 

“I was surprised with this award but was very happy,” Rohrig said. 

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