Public Safety Appreciation award winners lauded at 57th annual Exchange Club event

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Ruth Shireman was named Citizen of the Year at Friday's Quincy Exchange Club Public Safety Appreciation luncheon at the Elks. Shireman is flanked by Tom Bentley, left, Tri-Township Fire Department chief, and Adam Yates, chief of the Quincy Police Department. | Photo courtesy of Rick Gengenbacher

QUINCY — Ruth Shireman was a bit upset — in a good-natured way, of course — when her age was revealed at Friday’s 57th annual Quincy Exchange Club’s Public Safety Appreciation luncheon.

The 88-year-old Shireman was named the Citizen of the Year, a tribute that has been part of the Exchange Club program for five years. 

After accepting her award, Shireman poked fun at a number of individuals she believed were responsible for making her age known.

“Age is only a number,” she said, pointing her finger toward the turnout at the Elks Club.

In a more serious tone, Shireman later explained why she has given more than 13,500 hours in volunteer assistance to the Quincy Police Department. She enjoyed a 23-year career with the department’s clerical and records division after she retired from teaching.

“After I retired, I felt like I wanted to give back and help out,” said Shireman, who has worked in a variety of efforts and causes that assist the department.

Shireman said she has tried to follow the examples established by others before her. Her contributions have impressed those around her.

“This is the Gem City, and Ruth is a true gem,” emcee Barry Cheyne said.

Tom Bentley, the Tri-Township Fire Department chief, is one of Shireman’s biggest fans.

“Ruth is a great example of work ethic and is a valued member of the QPD team,” he said.

Other Public Safety Appreciation award winners were Tanner Fay, Jerry Mast and Tyler Mays.

Fay, an Illinois State Police trooper, was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. He is an 11-year veteran of the force.

Mast, a captain with the Quincy Fire Department, was lauded as Firefighter of the Year. Mast has been with the department for more than 14 years.

Mays, a paramedic with Adams County EMS, was tabbed EMS Professional of the Year. He is a five-year veteran of EMS service.

The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award dates to 1967, the Firefighter of the Year honor has been awarded since 2009 and the EMS Professional of the Year award since 2019.

A number of department heads spoke not only about their own force(s) but of the collective group being honored.

“These individuals all go above and beyond the call of duty,” said John Simon, chief of Adams County Ambulance and Emergency Service. 

Adams County Sheriff Tony Grootens agreed. “What these people do every day is unbelievable,” he said.

Quincy Chief of Police Adam Yates may have captured the moment best.

“It’s the men and women in (these uniforms) who are the real heroes,” he said.

Cheyne punctuated the ceremony with his own thoughts.

“These individuals are the best of the best, the creme de la creme,” he said.

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