This piece originally ran in the October 2021 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.
For the past 18 years, Sue Gerencser, EAA 1049125, has been helping out with a variety of maintenance-related projects around the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh grounds prior to convention. For her dedicated service for nearly the past two decades, Sue was named the 2021 Dorothy Hilbert Award winner at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 in July.
The Dorothy Hilbert Award is given to a female volunteer who exhibits the passion, dedication, and devotion for volunteerism that Dorothy presented throughout her life and time spent at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
Sue’s favorite duty prior to convention is setting up the numerous flags around the grounds, but she’s involved with a number of other projects as well, including cleaning buildings, setting up picnic tables, cleaning showers, assisting with gardening and the thousands of flowers at AirVenture, and crafting.
When Sue received the initial email that she’d been named the Dorothy Hilbert winner for 2021, she thought it was a joke.
“I went to delete the email because I thought it was a joke,” Sue said with a laugh. “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything extraordinary to win anything, and I didn’t say anything to anybody for about three days, and finally, I told my husband. I said, ‘Read this because I think it’s a joke, and I’m going to delete it.’ Well, he already knew about it, but he didn’t tell me. That was my first thing was ‘This is a joke, I’m going to delete the email.’”
As someone who admitted that she doesn’t necessarily attend AirVenture for the airplanes, Sue pointed out that her experience with other volunteers and the enjoyment they as a group get out of volunteering, particularly crafting, makes it all worth it.
“The other volunteers and I started doing crafts in the ladies tent,” Sue said. “Several of the little girls that I worked with, their mothers would come back the next year and tell me, ‘The girls could hardly wait till they could get back to Oshkosh and work with Miss Sue.’ I heard that a dozen times at least, because I enjoyed working with the girls, with the kids. The ladies tent is so enjoyable. So many women, they wouldn’t come and I don’t think their husbands would come if they couldn’t go to that tent.”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit EAA.org/Submissions.