BELOIT - The Stateline Community Foundation (SCF) honored retired Regal-Beloit Executive James Packard and his wife Nancy with the Bridge to the Future Award at its 33rd Annual Celebration at the Beloit Club on Friday evening. The event included dinner, updates on Beloit's Literacy for Life Initiative and a special tribute to the Packards for their devotion to family, community and country.
"You've shown me what it means to be a good citizen in this community. You are a wonderful example," said ABC Supply Company Inc. and Hendricks Holding Company Inc. Chairman Diane Hendricks.
Hendricks said she became close friends with the Packards after she lost her husband Ken Hendricks 12 year ago. After the couple reached out to her, she discovered she had a lot in common with them: being born of humbles means, working hard and becoming successful in the Beloit area. Hendricks and the Packards not only became close friends, but James Packard became her trusted adviser. If not for his encouragement, Hendricks said she didn't know if she would have built the Beloit Club.
Hendricks said the Packards have been silent givers for years, having been supportive of the Stateline Boys and Girls Club, Stateline Family YMCA, Beloit Health System, Beloit College and more.
Former Chairman and CEO of Regal-Beloit Henry Knueppel said he met the Packards in 1973.
"Their values are very clear - family, community and country," Knueppel said.
In addition to giving financially, Knueppel said the Packards demonstrated leadership with Nancy Packard involved in Family Services and James Packard being a founding member of Beloit 200 (then Beloit 2000). He said James Packard also raised the bar at Regal-Beloit (now known as Regal) for community involvement.
In receiving the award, James Packard explained how he became more generous the longer he stayed in the community. When he and his wife first came to Beloit he said he didn't think much about giving away time, energy or money. Over time James Packard said he realized the Stateline Area is uniquely special, with people willing to give of their time and money to make the quality of life better for all those who live in the area. Packard and his wife began giving more to demonstrate to others the value of giving.
"Try to find a way to keep what has made this community so special to continue," James Packard said. "Give every possible way you can think of to help mankind and help this community."
In addition to the Bridge to the Future award, the evening included some updates on Beloit's Literacy for Life Initiative.
University of Wisconsin Madison student and Beloit Memorial High School graduate Gloria Heiss spoke about her involvement in the book giveaway event last April where children and families received free books and bookshelves were raffled off to children.
Heiss, who currently volunteers with the Madison Reading Project, said she is working to see if a bookmobile could come to Beloit.
The evening included thanks to those supporting Beloit's Literacy for Life Initiative. Bill Flanagan thanked Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett and Dr. Roger Kapoor for their involvement. He commended Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther for making the city involved in the initiative via the police, fire and city planning departments. He also thanked Bill Lock and Jim Agate of Culver's for their support.
Tinder commended Todd Elementary School ESL teacher Mary Ellen Fuentes for her efforts to get books on school buses.
"You are an example of what we knew could happen, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," Tinder said of Fuentes.
Susan Stein, executive director of Nutrition and Health Associates, said early literacy is more important than ever in a time of increased screen time. She commended School District of Beloit Director of Early Literacy Rachelle Elliott for developing programming to model and demonstrate what families need to learn.
The premier sponsor of Friday's event was First National Bank, and the keynote sponsor was BMO Wealth Management.
Packard joined then Regal-Beloit in 1979 after leaving Frito-Lay and became president by 1980, chief executive officer by 1985 and chairman by 1986. He officially ended his 27-year career on Dec. 31, 2006.
Under his leadership, Regal-Beloit expanded from $40 million in sales in 1980 to $756.6 million by 2004. In 2005, the company's 50th year in business, sales rose to $1.4 billion, according to Beloit Daily News archives.