By Jeff Brady

The volunteer team of John and Jan Tronrud are the recipients of the 34th annual Helen B. Clark Award for Skagway Community Service.

In this unusual COVID year, the award was announced today via Facebook Live by Jeff Brady at Skaguay News Depot & Books with the Tronruds present via Zoom from their home, where they have been quarantining after a doctor trip to Juneau.

Jaime Tronrud Bricker, who set up the Zoom surprise, had nominated her dad and step-mom a year ago. In her nominating statement, she said, “John and Jan Tronrud have been instrumental in the health and happiness of Skagway for many years and in many ways.”

With the help of others, she noted their individual and collective volunteer work:

• John has been a member of the Elks for 41 years, serving as exalted ruler and district deputy and helping with scholarships, burger feed fundraisers, hoop shoots, summer camps and more. He served on the Skagway City Council from 1987-1996, was Economic Development Commission chair, and a member of the Port Commission, Port Governance Committee, Tidelands Lease Negotiating Team and Upper Lynn Canal Advisory Board. He also is a past president of the Southeast Conference.

• Jan served on the Skagway Chamber of Commerce Board for four terms and was instrumental in organizing Fourth of July activities and Ducky Derby, as well as the Skagway Business Directory. She still volunteers for the Chamber. Jan also served on the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau Board and Planning and Zoning Commission.

• Together, John and Jan have worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the First Presbyterian Church and their patrons. Both have held positions as elder, deacon, and clerk of sessions, represented the church at state meetings and hosted visiting presbytery guests at their White House B&B, which they recently sold. Jan has also prepared sermons and communion when Pastor Mandeville is absent, and John has handled repairs for the church, manse and rental. Jan is in the weekly women’s prayer group and led the push to continue the Malawi Crisis Nursery Fundraiser. More recently, she led prayer services for little Danica Taylor and organized the ringing of 100 church bells for Veterans Day. They both help with Vacation Bible School, cleaning, decorating and sorting food and clothing for the exchange.

“Outside of their affiliation with all these organizations, Jan and John have been known to help anyone in need — family, friends, associates and strangers,” Bricker wrote. “Those who are sick, injured or dying. People celebrating weddings, new babies, graduations and more. They’ve cooked meals, repaired homes, facilitated transportation, read scripture, sang songs and played games. Five hundred words are not enough to detail all the ways they have added life, love and value to our village.”

After the announcement, Bricker delivered the award, an antique wood “T” typeface letter from bookstore owner Brady’s collection.

Also recognized this year were new nominees Betsy Albecker, Eric Moseley, Jim Sager and Pam Joy. They will receive certificates and have been added to the pool of nominees to be considered.

The late Helen Clark was the first recipient of Skagway’s Community Service Award in 1987 and agreed to have future awards named for her so generations would remember her volunteer spirit.  The award recognizes outstanding volunteer deeds or service to the community.

The award is jointly sponsored by the Skagway Book Co. and The Skagway News, which hosted the Facebook Live event. Every fall, nomination letters are accepted from the public. A committee of past winners then reviews nominations from the previous five years and selects a winner.