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Chamber of Commerce Awards Community Mainstays at Annual Banquet

Affton honors its Citizen of the Year and Business Person of the Year.

More than 250 guests filled the Two Hearts Banquet Center on Saturday night for the 19th annual Auction and Awards Banquet. The event featured a "Seven Wonders of the World" theme, and guests enjoyed bidding, dinner, and a chance to honor a few of Affton’s upstanding citizens.

The Citizen of the Year award, presented by Affton Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Kinealy, went to Shirley Eckert, an outstanding volunteer in the Affton community.

Kinealy spoke of Eckert’s volunteerism at —cleaning the church, making bereavement lunches, and serving as a Eucharistic minister. Eckert serves as a member of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ladies Sodality, as a member of the Peregrine Society she makes dressings for cancer patients, and she serves as a member of the Secular Order with the Servites. Eckert also serves as the chairperson of the kitchen at the , is a member of the Affton Historical Society, and a member of the Retired Senior Resident Affton Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s quite an honor, and it was a surprise,” Eckert said of the award. “I’ve lived in Affton since 1962, and I still like it,” she added, drawing much laughter from the room.

The Business Person of the Year award, presented by Affton Chamber of Commerce member Kathryn Jadlot, went to Michael R. Bamvakais. Bamvakais is a principal of the law firm and has practiced law in Affton for more than 32 years.

Jadlot spoke of Bamvakais’s great service in both volunteer and elected positions in the Affton community. Bamvakais has served several terms on the Affton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and also served as its 2004-2005 president. He is a community director for Citizen’s National Bank in South County; he serves on the Affton School District’s A+ Advisory Committee, and is currently serving as president of the Affton Historical Society Endowment Trust’s board of trustees. Bamvakais is also a member, and past president, of the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Rotary Club.

“It’s an honor. It’s humbling, especially when you look back at the past recipients of this award,” Bamvakais said.

The Harold O. Kessler Beautification Awards for Commercial Renovation were presented to , and .

Also honored at the ceremony was retiring Affton Chamber of Commerce President, Maureen Clancy-May, superintendent of the Bayless School District. Clancy-May was unable to attend the ceremony.

“She was very devoted to the Affton Chamber,” current President Timothy Kinealy, told Patch. “We really do appreciate the effort that she gave, and the service.”

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