by Bonnie Kratz
look up volunteer in any Oshkosh dictionary, it should say Ann Criswell.
because the Bettendorf, Iowa, woman has volunteered for 37 years in
countless places both before and during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. For her
decades of dedication, she will receive the Dorothy Hilbert Volunteer
Award on Sunday, August 3, fittingly at the annual volunteer wind-down
party. The award honors a female EAA volunteer who exhibits the same
passion, dedication, and devotion for volunteerism as did the late
Criswell has been an outstanding EAA volunteer and supporter for decades
and is well deserving of this honor," EAA President Tom Poberezny
said. "Her commitment to EAA and members is evident by the number
of areas she has volunteered at."
an understatement. Criswell has volunteered at the Friendship Tent,
Airplane Greeters, Operation Thirst, South Maintenance, and
Pre-Convention Thirst, to name a few. And she has given not only of her
time, but also of her leadership abilities, serving as co-chairwoman or
chairwoman at Womenís Activities for more than 25 years.
volunteer job was holding a microphone and taking it around to the
audience to ask questions during forums. Then, in the mid-1970s, EAA
Founder Paul Poberezny came to Criswell and others, hauling a big slab
of salami, a chunk of cheese, and loaves of bread. "He asked us if
we would make sandwiches for those volunteers who work on the field and
canít leave their positions," Criswell said. Out of that request,
Operation Thirst was born.
husband, Fred, suffered from a heart attack in 1978, Criswell retired
from Operation Thirst so she could help Fred out more. But she didnít
stop volunteering. She filled in and did jobs here and there, and then
started Pre-Convention Thirst, providing food and beverages for the
volunteers who come early to help set up for the fly-in convention. The
Criswells always arrive in Oshkosh in early July.
Criswell has done many jobs, she says she has no favorite. "I just
enjoy knowing that Iím part of making AirVenture a success. But Iím
proudest of the cleanliness of the grounds. If you go to a ballgame, the
grounds are littered. But not here; itís a bright and cheerful place
favorite part of AirVenture, however, is that every single day is a new
day of reunions. "Someone comes that you havenít seen for a whole
year. The camaraderie is just wonderful."
she has volunteered in many places, there are still places sheíd like
to help out with at AirVenture. This year for the first time sheíll be
working in Carts during the convention, picking up people who are having
difficulty and taking them wherever they need to be.
canít just sit around and read," she explained. "I need
something to do. And thereís so many different jobs here; itís what
makes AirVenture so interesting."
Criswell said she was
honored and surprised to receive the award. "I donít volunteer
for the awards, but it is nice to be honored."