2015 Peter Melendy Community Builder Award Recipients

November 15, 2015

Cedar Falls Community Foundation Names Peter Melendy Community Builder Award Recipients
The Cedar Falls Community Foundation has announced the 2015 recipients of the Peter Melendy Community Builder award.  This award is presented to individuals who have made voluntary community contributions that have enhanced, improved, or positively affected the overall quality of life in Cedar Falls. Up to two awards may be presented each year including one posthumous award.  The 2015 awards will be presented on Saturday, December 12th at a 1 p.m. event held at Windridge, Western Home Communities, Cedar Falls.  The award event is free and open to the public.

The award is named for Peter Melendy, who became a resident of Cedar Falls in 1859 at the age of 36. By living fully and energetically he contributed much to the cultural life and economic development of Cedar Falls. The Peter Melendy Award is open to all Cedar Falls residents who reflect the example set by Peter Melendy. For more information on the award see www.cf-communityfoundation.org

The 2015 recipients of the Peter Melendy Community Builder award are Liane Nichols, community leader and volunteer; and, posthumously, Herman C. Hemenway, community leader and philanthropist, who died in 1922.

Liane Nichols exemplifies the community spirit championed by Melendy.  A lifelong educator, Liane is known to many as a teacher.  She is also a founding member of the Cedar Falls Community Theatre, which began its life mounting productions at Holmes Junior High School.  In the 1990s, Liane was actively involved in raising money to restore the Regent Theatre that now provides not only a home for the Cedar Falls Community Theatre, but anchors the downtown district in an architecturally and historically important building. The successful restoration of the theatre provided inspiration for further building restorations on Main Street. These aesthetic improvements to the infrastructure of Main Street helped to fuel the economic rebound of the area after the downturn of the 1980s.

Liane continues to serve the community through the Community Theatre, as well as by volunteering at the Cedar Falls Historical Society, Sartori Hospital Surgical Waiting Room, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where she is an ordained deacon.  Through her church she is involved in the community meals program and Meals on Wheels.  Liane is also a reader for the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service, which broadcasts readings of the local newspaper to vision-impaired listeners.  She is a shining example of the community spirit and commitment to Cedar Falls that Peter Melendy espoused.

Herman Hemenway chose to live in Cedar Falls after serving as a soldier during the Civil War.  He established a legal practice and became active in community activities, serving the local school board, the library association, the Tuesday Club and the Parlor Reading Circle for many decades.  He was elected to serve as city attorney in 1875 and soon after was elected to represent Black Hawk County in the Iowa House. As a Representative in the General Assembly he secured passage of the previously introduced Miller Bill establishing the Normal School in Cedar Falls.  Because of his expertise in moving the bill to a successful adoption, Hemenway was thereafter known as the “Father of the Normal School.”   Hemenway was appointed by Governor Kirkwood to serve on the first board of Trustees of the Normal School.  He later served Cedar Falls as Mayor.

Hemenway and his wife Lanie Schermerhorn had no children, but provided a home for and helped educate fourteen young people at the State Normal School.   When Hemenway died on January 27, 1922 at his home in Cedar Falls at the age of 89 years, a tribute to his character was printed in the newspaper and a memorial service was held in the auditorium of State Teachers College, led by Professors David Sands Wright, William W. Gist, Jennette Carpenter, C.A. Fullerton and W. E. Hays. For over fifty years Herman C. Hemenway sought to serve the community of Cedar Falls through public service, volunteer work, elected office, friendship to the needy, and his profession.

The Cedar Falls Community Foundation is proud to recognize two individuals who through their service to the community make Cedar Falls a better place to live and work for everyone.

The Cedar Falls Community Foundation serves as the leading philanthropic organization in Cedar Falls, Iowa, using the resources entrusted to its stewardship to support projects that enhance the community’s quality of life through cultural, scholarly, recreational, literary, and artistic endeavors.  The Cedar Falls Community Foundation encourages community philanthropy and collaboration.  For more information about the Cedar Falls Community Foundation, please visit www.cf-communityfoundation.org  or contact 319.243.9170 or cfcf@cfu.net.