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Madison Chamber Awards

Marriage, Grote honored
by Madison Chamber

Cancer survivor collects
Community Service Award

Don Ward
Editor

(February 2005) – Ron Marriage of Commiskey, Ind., and Grote Industries were honored for their contributions to the community at the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner, held Jan. 26 at Hanover College.

Ron Marriage

Photo by Don Ward

Ron Marriage celebrates with (from left) his daugher, Jennifer Goodwin, son David Marriage and daughter-in-law Casie Marriage.

The sellout event, sponsored by National City Bank, drew 315 people to the college’s campus center and is largely known as the biggest networking night of the year in Madison. Chamber president Jeff Garrett presided over the night’s events, which included the handoff from last year’s chamber board president Tim Breeding of Teton Corp. to this year’s president, Scott Hubbard of Arvin Sango Inc.
Marriage, 55, who operates several community websites promoting the area, received the chamber’s Community Service Award, while Bill Grote accepted the chamber’s Business Service Award on behalf of his family’s company, a leading manufacturer of vehicle lighting and safety systems.
“I was really surprised; I didn’t expect it. But it is really a big honor,” said Marriage, who moved his family to Jefferson County in 1985 from Terre Haute when he accepted a computer science teaching position at Ivy Tech State College.
Marriage learned he had contracted lymphoma cancer that same year and eventually had to cut back his work hours. He retired in 1988 but continued to maintain several Internet websites for various nonprofit groups, including veterans organizations. He is a U.S. Army veteran after having spent two years in the service in the 1960s.
To battle his cancer, Marriage underwent a bone marrow transplant in 1989. Today, his illness is in remission, but he continues to suffer from the side effects of the transplant, which included blindness. He also lost the ability to detect colors. He underwent cataract surgery last March and miraculously regained the ability to detect colors.
His wife, Cheryl, works at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library and attended the chamber dinner, along with their daughter, Jennifer Goodwin, 29, of Greenwood, Ind., their son, David Marriage, 24, of Bedford, Ind., and his wife, Casie, who is expecting the Marriage’s first grandchild in May.

2005 Chamber Events

Feb. 26: Texas Hold’em Tournament
March 6: Tele-Auction
April 28: Job Fair
May 15: Golf Outing
Oct. 8: Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew
Nov. 5: Business Expo

Grote, meanwhile, praised his company’s 700 employees, saying he was accepting the award on behalf of their hard work and service to the community. The company employs another 300 people at its facilities in Canada and Mexico.
The company was recognized for having contributed money to several community projects, including Lamplighter Park along the Madison riverfront. They also have contributed to numerous nonprofit organizations and events in the county.
The Grote family has operated its company for 103 years and moved their operation to Madison in 1960. It was founded by William Grote, and several Grote family members hold key positions in the company.
Outgoing president Breeding recapped the chamber’s accomplishments of the past year, including meeting his personal goal of increasing chamber membership to 375 on his watch. He hands the reigns to Hubbard, who inherits a 20-member board, a staff of five and an operating budget that exceeds $480,000 for 2005.
The Chamber Ambassador of the Year was awarded to Linda Ralston of River Valley Financial Bank. Wattenbarger was last year’s winner.
Bill Stewart, who was absent, won the $2,500 cash prize in the reverse draw, a new event instituted last year as a chamber fund raiser.

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