A man of many words when he discusses his religion or his political party, Hugh Geeslin was almost speechless Saturday morning.
The lifelong Republican was recognized shortly after 10 a.m. with the Joseph C. Conowal Award by the Dawson County Republican Party, which joined Republicans across the state to elect local party officers and county delegates to attend the district and state conventions in April and May.
The award, which honors the late local leader, is presented “only when someone demonstrates they are truly dedicated to the party by showing outstanding character and outreach to others,” said Dawson County Republican Party Chairman Clint Smith.
Conowal’s youngest son Chris, who was on hand to speak of his father, said it was Geeslin’s character and spirit that earned him the award.
“In my estimation of what this award does, is it honors the spirit to persevere, whether or not things are at the forefront, or whether they are rebuilding, like we are,” Chris Conowal said. “This award honors the spirit of Joe Conowal, and those who exemplify his spirit.”
Speaking in a quiet tone, Geeslin claimed he was unworthy of such a prestigious honor.
“I know the people who came ahead of me, George David, Clint Smith, the real champions for this party, they were here with Joe,” Geeslin said. “I never knew Joe, but when I saw the plaque hanging in the old courthouse and several times I was honored to get the plaque and pass it on to these people.”
The party also elected local officers and delegates to represent Dawson County Republicans at the district and state conventions.
Smith again was elected to lead the party in 2009. Clint Bearden is vice chair of membership. Tim Alexander is vice chair of fundraising. Dan Pichon continues as treasurer and Mary Jane Childs was elected as secretary.
Bearden said while the local party has seen success, there are problems with the party at the national level that can be addressed by rebuilding locally.
“The key is to increase membership. It’s almost like we’ve had too much success locally. We’ve got to keep the local party going and the local people involved to keep the party from going off course. That way we can have a better hold on making sure the state officials are held more accountable,” he said.