Tim McKearn Headliner Award

Tim McKearn holds his Laurence Raymer Headliner Award. McKearn was one of two recipients of this year’s Headliner Award.

BELOIT — Tim McKearn has always brought a positive attitude and a team-building approach to the many roles he’s played as one of Beloit’s biggest boosters.

In an unusual decision during this most unusual year, the Beloit Daily News declared a tie and is recognizing two individuals with the 2020 Laurence A. Raymer Headliner Award. That only happened once before, in 2013, when Dr. David Criswell and First National Bank Chairman Steve Eldred were recognized.

Joining Tim McKearn in recognition this year is Beloit City Council President Regina Dunkin (see accompanying story).

McKearn has been an educator in many senses of the word, serving for 13 years at Beloit Catholic High School as a teacher and a coach, and eventually as the institution’s principal.

He went on to work for 13 years in a variety of roles at Beloit College. Most recently, McKearn served as the director of the Blackhawk Technical College Foundation until serious illness required that he retire in the fall of 2019. Over the years he also worked with numerous for-profit and nonprofit organizations in business and consulting roles.

He has been deeply involved in community affairs, serving on the board of directors for more than a dozen nonprofit organizations. Among those agencies are Beloit Catholic High School, Visit Beloit, Downtown Beloit Association, St. Vincent de Paul and Hands of Faith (now, Family Promise).

In presenting the recognition, Beloit Daily News Editor Bill Barth said McKearn has always demonstrated the “unique abilities to listen to all people and all views, to be a moderating influence, to seek common ground and common sense solutions.”

In facing the challenges of serious illness, Barth said McKearn “has done so with courage, grace, goodwill and characteristic optimism.”

“Sometimes people feel as though they can’t make a difference if they aren’t rich or powerful, but my experience has taught me that no matter who you are or what your standing in life, enormous opportunities abound if you are willing to give of your time and talents,” McKearn said in accepting the Headliner.

About a year ago, he “was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer in my liver,” with a life expectancy of 6-12 months. While thanking his team of medical professionals, McKearn said faith and support from the people of Beloit has sustained him and his family.

“My diagnosis hasn’t changed,” he said, “but we have already defied the odds. Each and every day feels like a victory and presents a new opportunity to return the love and kindness we have received.”