Four Perry notables honored in annual ceremony

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Accepting 2015 awards from the Perry Historic Preservation Commission were, front row from left, honoree Jim Haas; Haas' son, Marty Haas; Mary Soumas, accepting the award on behalf of her father, George P. Soumas; and Sherry Hawn, accepting the award on behalf of her father, Clarence "Jack" Hawn; back row from left, Nancy Gilman, daughter of Jim Haas; John Marckres and Jerry Marckres, accepting the award on behalf of their father, Jim Marckres, as well as their uncles, grandfather and great-uncles; and Lyle Hawn, accepting the award on behalf of his father, Clarence "Jack" Hawn. The ceremony was held Saturday at Spring Valley Assisted Living in Perry.

About 100 people attended the Perry Historic Preservation Commission’s annual awards ceremony Saturday at Spring Valley Assisted Living in Perry, where memories were shared of four noteworthy Perry families.

Commission member Larry Vodenik presented a plaque to Mary Soumas of Altoona on behalf of her father, George P. Soumas, one of Perry’s great benefactor.

George P. Soumas
George P. Soumas

Vodenik described highlights of Soumas’ life, from the heroics that earned him a Distinguished Service Award in World War II to his multiple terms as Perry mayor, his contributions to Perry Underwater Rescue modernization, his work to establish Iowa Highway 141 as a four-lane highway between Granger and Perry and his many years as an attorney and judge.

James R. Haas was presented a plaque by Perry Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson Gary Martin. Haas, a 1940 graduate of Perry High School, distinguished himself during World War II as a bombardier in the 398th Bomb Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

He has participated in the “Timeless Voices of Aviation” project as well as many Perry High School Veterans Day programs. Hass retired after 40 years as the senior vice president and trust officer at Perry State Bank and was a longtime supporter of Perry High School athletic and cultural programs.

James R. Haas with his wife, Diane, son,  Marty, and daughter, Nancy.
James R. Haas with his wife, Diane, daughter, Nancy, and son, Marty.

Haas was joined at the ceremony by his son, Marty Haas, his daughter, Nancy Gilman, his grandson, Tim Gilman, and his daughter-in-law, Ronda Roberts. Roberts described Haas’ wartime heroism.

“We were once looking through some old photos, and I asked, ‘Weren’t you ever scared?’ and he answered, ‘Every minute of every day. I used to wake up in the morning and wonder whether I would be alive to go to bed that night.'”

From his seat in the front row, Haas, 93, the ceremony’s only non-posthumous honoree, said, “I was 22, and I didn’t want to die. There were all those pretty girls out there I still wanted to meet.” The Spring Valley crowd laughed heartily at the quip.

Clarence L. “Jack” Hawn was honored with a Perry Historic Preservation Commission plaque for his contributions to civic life as a second-generation filling station owner well known as a businessman of honesty and integrity. Commission member John Palmer presented the plaque to Hawn’s son Lyle and daughter, Sherry Hawn.

Clarence "Jack" Hawn
Clarence “Jack” Hawn

Hawn served the Perry community with service on the Perry City Council for several years and through promotion of the construction of the McCreary Community Building in 1983. He also had a passionate interest is supporting the athletic and cultural programs of Perry High School.

The last posthumous plaque honored the Marckres family, active figures in Perry’s civic and commercial life for five generations. John Marckres of Perry and Jerry Marckres of West Des Moines accepted the plaque from Perry Historicmarckres Preservation Commission member Dave Berkemann on behalf of their father Jim Marckres, grandfather John Marckres, great-grandfather Harry Marckres, great-uncle Charles Marckres and great-great-grandfather Sam Marckres.

The Marckres brothers still own and operate Spring Valley Radio in Perry, a business founded by their father.

This was the second year the preservation commission’s awards ceremony was held at Spring Valley Assisted Living. Maureen Haglund, marketing coordinator for Spring Valley Assisted Living, welcomed the audience and commended the work of the Perry Historic Preservation Commission.

Commission members include Vodenik, Martin, Palmer, Berkemann, Ronda Onken, Judy Marckres, Jeanette Peddicord, Eugene Peel and Jim Von Behren.

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