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Public Information and Communication

November 25, 2002


Mary Jo Ryan

Awards for Promotion of Literature and Community Service Presented

The Grand Island Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer was the site of the 2002 Nebraska Book Festival, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book. The festive occasion featured a banquet dinner with keynote speaker Bob Greene, author of Once Upon A Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, and also provided the occasion for presentation of the Nebraska Center for the Book's Mildred Bennett Award and Community Spirit Award.

The Mildred Bennett Award is given to an individual who provides leadership and service in the promotion of Nebraska literature. This year's recipient was George T. Ayoub II. Mr. Ayoub, who is a senior correspondent with the Grand Island Independent, received his award as a writer who has fostered Nebraska's literary tradition. The Nebraska Book Festival Community Spirit Award was presented to Mr. S. N. "Bud" Wolbach. Mr. Wolbach was president of the Stuhr Museum's Board of Trustees from 1961 until his retirement in 2000. His commitment to community service and to the arts and humanities is well established throughout Nebraska, and was further recognized by the presentation of this award. The annual festival is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, with funding from the Nebraska Humanities Council.

The 2002 Jane Geske Award was presented to the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, Chadron State College, at the 2002 Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting. The heritage center pays tribute to Nebraska Hall of Fame author-historian Mari Sandoz, who was born on a Niobrara River Homestead south of Hay Springs. It perpetuates and preserves the literary works and legacy of Mari Sandoz. The Center also serves as a repository of High Plains archival materials, a site for seminars and workshops, and a new western Nebraska tourist attraction.

The award, established by the Nebraska Center for the Book, is presented annually to an organization, business, library, school, association, or other group that has made an exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or Nebraska literature. The Jane Geske Award commemorates Geske's passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Jane Geske was a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book and a long-time leader in many Nebraska library and literary activities.


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