He’s following in his father’s footsteps
A?local man takes pride in the community he grew up in, a trait which earned him the recognition of being the community service person of the year.
Bruce Ankeny will be recognized at the annual Chamber Banquet, which will be held in Hamilton Hall on Jan. 23, with this year’s Community Service Award.
“Blue Earth is the only place I?have ever lived and I want to see it prosper,”?Ankeny says.
The owner of Ankeny Furniture, in downtown Blue Earth, credits that desire to improve his community as the reason he became so involved with various clubs, groups and committees in Blue Earth.
Ankeny’s involvement includes being the current president of the Blue Earth Royal Chiselers Wood Carvers Club, past and first president of the Blue Earth Town and Country Players, a Convention and Visitors Bureau?member, was on the committee for building the new fire hall, on the Parks and Rec. board, helped with the Steinberg Park shelter and Putnam Park shelter, was co-chair on the committee to build the new Hope United Methodist Church building, and much more.
Ankeny adds that he is pretty involved in Hope UMC by participating in the choir and various church committees.
“I?get involved because you need to make this a more appealing place to want to live,”?Ankeny says. “There has got to be a reason for people to want to be here.”
This was a way of thinking which seemed to be passed down from his family more specifically, Ankeny’s father.
“I think I?have the same way of thinking as my father (Wayne Ankeny) did for the community as a whole and being a business man in Blue Earth,” Ankeny says. “You want to see it prosper.”
His family has operated a business out of the same location on Main Street in Blue Earth since 1946.
Wayne Ankeny worked with his own father at the family business until starting Ankeny Furniture in 1969.
“And, I’ve been working here since 1974,” Bruce adds.
Ankeny remembers he had planned to work at his father’s business for just a couple of years.
“Just until I?figured out what I?wanted to do,” he says.
He figured out his love for the community and wanting to keep a family business and community staple going, was what he wanted to continue doing.
Ankeny married his classmate, Bonnie, and the two have been married for 38 years.
They have three sons; Bryan, Brandon and Brent. His sons are married and all have children.
Bryan and his wife, Tiffany, have three daughters and a son and live in Eau Claire. Brandon and his wife, Ana, have three children and live here in Blue Earth. Brent and his wife, Christine, have two children and live in Eau Claire.
“All of my sons will be at the banquet,”?Ankeny says.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Ankeny has received a little recognition for his work in the community. He also earned the Sertoma Service to Mankind award a few years ago.
“It is humbling of course,”?Ankeny says.
He also enjoyed the way he was informed he was this year’s Community Service Person of the year.
Ankeny says Tom Juba, Mike Ellingsen and Cindy Lyon walked into Ankeny Furniture one day.
“Tom told me he had a strange request,”?Ankeny says.
Ankeny said Juba explained how Ellingsen wanted him to be in the Town and Country Players production this summer but Juba told Ankeny he would only do it on one condition.
“Tom said he would only be in the play if I was,” Ankeny says. “I thought it would be worth it.”
But with all kidding aside, the three told Ankeny why they had really paid him a visit that day.
“Then they told me I?had been selected for the award,” Ankeny says.
He is grateful for the award but acts modest when it comes to accepting the praise that accompanies the recognition.
However, as Ankeny takes after his father in the way he has been involved in groups and committees in Blue Earth, the similarities do not stop there.
“My father also received this award,”?Ankeny says. “He was the Sertoma Service to Mankind recipient, as well.”
But, when Ankeny is helping out in the community he enjoys a few artistic hobbies.
One of the pastimes he enjoys is woodcarving. He has been woodcarving since about 1981 when he attended a woodcarving club show in Blue Earth.
“Someone there had carved a hillbilly chess set,”?Ankeny recalls. “That really interested me.”
The rest was history, and Ankeny became very involved in the club and in the pastime of carving wood.
He also expresses his artistic side in the form of community theater.
“I do enjoy community theater and still get involved in the Town and Country Player productions from time to time,”?Ankeny says.
All of the activities he has invested his time in have gotten the attention of the members of the community, earning him the title of Community Service Person of the Year.