Al Shauf – This Is Your Life

Published 1:16 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

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Elton R. (Al) Shauf was born in 1939 in Milbank, South Dakota, a small town in the Northeast corner of a rural state. Like most of his ancestors, his parents were farmers, and he learned the value of discipline and hard work at an early age. Al ad his siblings were the first members of their family to graduate from college. Al graduated the University of South Dakota with a Bachelor of Arts in Government in 1960.

Al took ROTC in college, and in 1961 entered the Army to meet is two-year commitment. Much to his surprise, he discovered he was good at it and liked it. He served 32 years, retiring in 1993 in the rank of colonel.

During his 83 years on this earth, Al had lived in 19 communities in nine states and three foreign countries. He spent eight years overseas, in Korea, Vietnam and Germany.

April 18, 1965 was the most important day of Al’s life. On that day, he married Becky Thornton in First Baptist Church, Cordele. They love and are very proud of their two sons – Steve, who lives in Ohio and Scott, who lives in North Carolina. And, they have two wonderful daughter-in-law and six perfect grandchildren!

Upon retirement from the Army in 1993, Becky and Al moved from Germany to Cordele, Becky’s hometown and the home of Becky’s father, B.I. Thornton Jr, who was a ‘second father’ to Al. As they did throughout Al’s military career, Becky and Al have continued to serve God, Church and community.

Since 1993, Al has been active in First Baptist Church, Cordele, and First United Methodist Church, Cordele. He now has the honor of serving First Methodist as Lay Leader and as a Sunday School teacher, an activity he had enjoyed in churches and military chapels for over 50 years.

Becky’s father introduced Al to Cordele Lions Club. Al became a Lion while living in Virginia in 1986, and transferred to the Cordele Lions Club when Becky and he moved to Cordele. Al served as club president. His activities include administering the glasses for the needy program for the past 18 years. Lions International approved the local club’s recommendation that Al be named a Melvin Jones Fellow, the highest awards in Lionism.

On 1994, others in the community asked Al to take the lead in forming Crisp Area Habitat for Humanity, a Christian housing organization that built homes for God’s people in need. Al agreed. With strong community support, in just 12 years Crisp Area Habitat built 24 modest homes and sold them to needy families. The Habitat homeowners helped build and then bought their homes, paying for then with low down payments and small monthly mortgage payments on interest-free loans.

From 1995-1998, Al was Executive Director of the Crisp-Dooly Enterprise Community, a non-profit organization established to implement a bottom-up, grass roots, community-based plan for making Crisp and Dooly counties a better place to live. The key feature was a direct Federal grant of $3,000,000. Near the end of his tenure, he led successful efforts to become a Rural Empowerment Zone, which included a direct Federal grant of $20,000,000.

In 1999, Al joined Friends of the Park, a group of community volunteers who designed, raised funds for and built a monument to veterans in Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. Since dedication of the monument in 2005, the Friends have supported the park in other ways.

Al Served as board president, and helps each year with organization and conduct of Veterans’ Day observances. He’s also served State Friends as a board member and treasurer.

From 2000-2009. Al served the Cordele Judicial Circuit as a civil and juvenile mediator, helping people resolve disputes without going to court. During this period, he occasionally acted as director of the Superior Court’s medication program.

Since 2007, Al served on the Board of Equalization, which hears appeals rom Crisp County property owners who disagree with the assessed value of their property and related matters. He currently chairs this board.

Although he has not run for office, Al has supported politics by serving as campaign treasurer for Representative Buddy Harden and his successor, Representative Noel Williams Jr.

For Al, it has been an honor and privilege to serve our nation for over 30 years and our community for the past 30 years.

This is your life was held at the Lake Blackshear Resort conference rooms, on June 15, 2023. It was a great turn out of friends, family and community members, honoring Al for all he has done for the community. The event was MC’d by Doug Dean, a Lions Club member and local attorney. The invocation was done by Rev. Larry Rollins followed with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Chip Wells and national anthem sang by Cindy Rollins. There were many friends and communities members that spoke and gave toasts to Al. These people included; Don Barnes who spoke about their friendship. Susan Leger-Boike who spoke on their history with Habitat for Humanity projects in the community that built 24 homes for needy people I the community, Lee Guerry made jokes saying, “ I am not good at saying stuff to people who aren’t stretch out in front of me.” Buddy Hardem spoke about Al’s allegiance and service to the lord, his family and country cause Al has been doing this his whole life. Lee Buchele, Al’s brother spoke about everything that Al has done in his life and how that is a lot for someone to do in one segment of one lifetime. As well as making jokes that Al is his much much much older brother and his favorite brother which doesn’t say much cause he is his only brother. The toasts ended with Steve, Al’s Son, who spoke about how Al grew up on a farm and learned hard work at an early age. Steve mentioned being military kids they weren’t raised that way, but even though Al was strict due to his military background he still liked to play jokes on the kids at Christmas. These jokes consisted of the last big present they would receive being a wrapped up lawnmower engine one year or 12-13 wrapped bricks, making the kids think they were getting a big exciting gift. He mentioned that his dad (Al) is loving, fun and knows how to have a good time. Steve is proud of his dad for is 30 year military career, and his service to the people or the church.

Following the toasts, Michael Fraser did a special presentation from the Cordele Lions Club. Al was recognized and awarded the Tom Bingham Award. Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation grants the Tom Bingham Award to individuals who embody the mission and ideals of the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation through significant dedication to improving visions for Georgians in need.

We then heard from Al, he mentioned how he found out that he was receiving this recognition. Monica from the chamber has called his wide Becky and told her, he mentioned that the first word Becky said when she found out was, “Why?” He had the same question, although he is humbled and thankful for such recognition. He gives his thanks to Monica and the chamber for selecting him, the Lake Blackshear Resort for putting together and hosting the event, along with the sponsors of the event which in some way or another he has been associated with each one over the years, as well as everyone who participated in the event. He also sends a big thanks to his family for all their love and support. He spoke about the most significant day he remembers as a volunteer, which he says was Sunday October 21, 2007. This say was Faith in Action Day where the members of the First Baptist Church in Cordele and other community members gathered at the church for a quick service before they scattered around 20+ locations around the community where they did a wide variety of things. These things included; helping remove graffiti from buildings, working on homes for the needy, prepping food for all the works, and more. He was not concerned about any of the programs but one, it was the program described as: In partnership with local residents to mow, trim, clean up and beautify Westside Cemetery on 24th Ave. His concern that morning was it was in bad shape and they had only four people who signed up for the project. His job that day was to monitor what was going on and ensure people had water, as he headed west on 24th ave toward the cemetery he got a call from the project manger for he cemetery who said, “We’re in trouble, I only order meals for 10 people and there are at least 50 people out here.” When he got closer to the cemetery, what he saw looked like ants. He realized, as he got closer that at least two lawn services stopped worked that day and devoted their time to the project. People were out there with push mowers, racks, hoes and some with just gloves. He has never forgotten that event in part because he frequently drives by that area and the cemetery is in the same shape in how they left it that day. That is the pledge that residence in the community took that day , if they cleaned it for them they would maintain it. Most important thing about that single event was that it reminds him that if people work together without regard to differences like skin color, economic or social status. We can work together to make things happen. He continued to mention his work with the Habitat for Humanity, Cordele Lions Club and friends with the park. He finished by speaking about a failure of his 46 years ago, it was a mistake he has never forgotten. The year was 1977, in Colorado on a parade field. He was the outgoing Commander of a unit which was gong through the kinds of parade and speeches that you go through when there is a successful chain of command. He memorized his speech, and gave what he thought was a magnificent speech, which he gave recognition to all of his people, entre team and everyone in the world that he remembered in that moment. When the ceremony ended the first person he spoke to was his bosses wife, who mentioned how great of as speech it was but that he forgot to mention one person. The person he forgot to mention was his wife Becky. He mentions that at this moment he turned a certain shade of white and could not believe that he had failed to recognize the most important member of his team. He ends with giving his wife Becky, the recognition he should have given her all those years ago. Saying that she is the most valuable member of his team.

A huge congratulation’s to Al for this recognition as well as, being awarded the Tom Bingham Award. Thank you for your service not only to this community but also to this country.