BEAVERCREEK — The prestigious Ervin J. Nutter award was presented to two deserving recipients during the 25th annual Greene County Report to the Community held Friday at the Beavercreek Golf Club.
The award was created in honor of Ervin J. Nutter and his philanthropic work throughout Greene County. Since 1984 it has been presented annually to people in Greene County who continue to bring pride to the community. Nutter passed away on Jan. 5, 2000.
The first recipient of the 2014 E.J. Nutter Award is Burma Fernandez, who passed away April 4 at the age of 88. Nutter Award Committee Member Diane Phillips presented the first award to Fernandez’s daughter Kathy Hillibish.
“Burma was a true community treasure,” Phillips said. “She knew she was receiving this award so she got to experience the joy and anticipation of the honor.”
Yenema Bermingham received her nickname, “Burma,” while working as a teletype operator for Hercules Powder Company. She came to the Dayton area from Arkansas after WWII and met and married Norbert (Poncho) Fernandez. Together they opened the Fernandez Art-Craft store at Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering. Along with Vic Cassano, Sr., Burma helped to found the Kettering Chamber of Commerce.
The Fernandez family businesses in time were moved to Bellbrook and located in what is now Bellbrook Shopping Plaza. While owning the plaza and raising their family, Burma and Poncho contributed to the Bellbrook Community’s growth. In 1973, following her husband’s death, Fernandez helped form the Bellbrook Business and Professional Association, which is now the Bellbrook Area Chamber of Commerce. She served as Executive Director for many years, during which she also was a founding member of the Bellbrook Community Bank. In the 1980s, she helped organize what for years was known as Bellbrook’s Christmas in the Park.
During her many years as a resident of Greene County and the City of Bellbrook, Fernandez has organized and developed businesses, participated in chamber events, the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greene County Small Business Administration, Greene County Economic Development Committee and more. In 2005, she was inducted into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame for her leadership in business and community affairs. Along with all her business accomplishments, Burma was a proud member of the Gem City Sweet Adelines. Her group has won many international awards.
“When she found out she was receiving this award she was so excited. My mother believed in giving back,” said Hillibish. “She wrote to-do lists, which is one of the ways she became successful. After she died on April 4 I found this written on a notepad: ‘Thanks, what a great honor…it’s been a great journey.’ Somehow it’s best that her journey ended with this award.”
Fernandez’s family includes her daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Jim Hillibish, her step-daughter Connie Jenkins and step-grandson B.J.
Bob Nutter, son of Ervin J. Nutter, presented the second 2014 award to the Hon. Robert A. Hagler, who served as the Greene County Probate Court Judge for more than 40 years. He retired on Feb. 28, 2013. In addition, he served as Greene County Juvenile Court Judge from 1973 to 1995.
“Robert Hagler has never forgotten to serve the people who elected him,” said Nutter. “He definitely honors the spirit of service in Greene County.”
During his time in office, Judge Hagler was active in the Ohio Probate Judges Association and served on the Board of Directors of the National College of Probate Judges, The American Judicature Society, and The National Violent Offenders Council. He lectured regularly to The Ohio Correctional and Court Services Association and the Greene County Bar Association.
Hagler was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award presented by The Ohio Youth Commission, and he received several Superior Judicial Service Awards from The Supreme Court of Ohio. He was honored by the Ohio Senate in 2011, the Ohio House of Representatives in 2013 for outstanding judicial service to Greene County, and he was elected to membership in the Xenia Educational Endowment Hall of Honor for leadership, high achievement and services.
“I’m very honored to receive this award but more so honored because of the name above mine, Ervin J. Nutter. What a wonderful, wonderful man he was,” Hagler said.