In celebrating the life of Dr. Jean Medlock, the attendees of the Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon in Alma honored Rick Wilson by bestowing upon him the newly named 2018 Dr. Jean Medlock Volunteer of the Year Award on Aug. 10 at the First Baptist Church in Alma.
Wilson, in his acceptance of the award, acknowledged the other volunteers at the Alma Community Outreach Center, where he is the director. His sharing of the award was echoed by others who were also recognized for their volunteerism from the past year.
“Dr. Medlock was such a symbol of this community and to volunteerism, we couldn’t think of anybody who was more symbolic than her,” said Ed Thicksten.
Others honored included Rosemary Blasingame, Alma Boys ad Girls Club, Alma Police Department, Shop With a Cop, National Night Out, Alma Parks; Jami Balkman, Alma Book Mobile, Alma and Crawford County Public Libraries; John Griffin, Airedale Nation and Alma Public Schools; the late Eldon Mushrush, Volunteer Extraordinary for his work with the Alma Public Schools, the Alma Community Outreach Center, the Alma Chamber of Commerce and First Baptist Church of Alma. Keith Brown, with the Alma Community Outreach Center, also was recognized, but he was at the center unloading a truck, so his wife Felicia Brown accepted the award on his behalf.
Thicksten, the former state representative for the area and Alma resident, handed out the awards. Marilyn Sneed, director of the Alma Chamber of Commerce, assisted in organizing the event. Dr. Mike McSpadden, assistant superintendent for the Alma School District, was the guest speaker.
The Alma Community Outreach Center takes no government funding and is largely supported by individuals and a number of area churches.
Dr. Medlock worked in Alma, her adopted home, for 50 years and volunteered in many areas to help Alma grow as a community.
The Joplin, Mo., native, was the first woman to graduate from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 1966. She opened a practice with Dr. Modena Sullivan in Fort Smith in 1967 and later opened her own practice in Alma in 1968. She practiced with the Eye Group until her retirement.
“She was a personal friend of mine,” said Thicksten. “She came to me asked me to build her an office, I did and she rented from me for 38 years.
“She had a great optometry practice, but her main thing was volunteerism: Stepping Stone, girls softball, eye exams for the school… countless things people didn’t even know about. She was always there when you asked and a great, great person.”
Dr. Medlock was honored professionally throughout her career and received the Lifetime of Excellence Award from the Arkansas Optometry Association in 2010.
However, the biggest impact she had was volunteering her time to the community. Dr. Medlock was involved in coaching softball, she mentored kids, she stepped forward to help lead a local Girl Scout troop, and she served on the founding board and the board of directors for Stepping Stone School beginning in 1970.