Longtime Record-Courier sports editor wins Streetsboro Chamber's Citizen of the Year Award

Former Record-Courier Associate Sports Editor planned 'Take a Kid Fishing Day'

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor  Published:

Streetsboro -- Area kids who've enjoyed fishing or have played in the Portage County Amateur Tennis Tournament may owe a debt of gratitude to this year's winner of the Streetsboro Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year Award winner, Harry Devault.

Longtime fans of Kent State University sports may, as well. Devault, 78, was a writer and associate sports editor at the Record-Courier's sports desk for 44 years. 

Devault accepted the award at a Dec. 12 Chamber luncheon, where he and winners of several other awards were recognized.

The five-year Streetsboro resident was nominated for the award by resident Tom Szemon, who worked with him at Walmart. 

"What I see, is that man's dedication," said Szemon. "Anything that has to do with the kids, he is right there for."

Szemon said Devault has been organizing and spearheading "Take a Kid Fishing Day" each June at Lake Hodgson for the past 11 years.

Devault said the event, which he's credited with organizing each year, is cosponsored by Walmart and Rockne's and supported by many others. 

"'Take a Kid Fishing Day' is not just me," he said. "It's a lot of people working together to do something."

About 20 to 30 volunteers helped out with the 2012 "Take a Kid Fishing Day," which takes place in June each year, he said.

Every year, Walmart has donated 300 fishing poles and Rockne's has donated hot dogs, chips and soft drinks to the event, said Devault.

Even the weather has cooperated; in 11 years, Devault said there hasn't been rain once.

"We've gotten a lot of help," he said.

The idea for "Take a Kid Fishing Day" came to Devault while he was working at Walmart and literature about fishing equipment was being distributed to kids at the store, he said. 

"The kids walked over and put it in the waste basket," he said, realizing then that only by experiencing fishing would kids develop an interest in it. 

Since then, the event has become a time for families to come together to learn about fishing and enjoy nature together, said Szemon.

Six or seven years ago, Devault said a boy came up to him at "Take a Kid Fishing Day" and asked to shake his hand. 

"I said, 'Why do you want to shake my hand?' He said, 'I had a wonderful day today.' That makes it all worthwhile."

Stephen Laird, the outgoing president of the Streetsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, said,"This event, under the direction of Harry has grown every year."

Devault also said he was quite surprised and even somewhat skeptical when he was first told he won the Citizen of the Year Award. 

"When I first heard about this award, I thought it was one of my friends pulling my leg," he said.

Laird said Devault has been a positive force around the Streetsboro and Portage County for many years.

"You could open a Webster's Dictionary and under the words 'inspiration,' 'heart,' 'knowledge' and even 'Portage County' you would see a picture of Harry Devault and his heartfelt smile."

In addition to the Citizen of the Year Award, the Business of the Year Award, Chamber Member of the Year Award, Outstanding Recognition Award and Image Award winners were recognized at the Dec. 12 Chamber luncheon.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9440SNbS

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