2020 Citizen of the Year

Chris Fiely (right) awarded a plaque honoring Betty (middle) and Carl Meinstrifil as 2020 Citizens of the Year during a celebration held on Thursday night. Both are former teachers who have dedicated their lives to educating Titusville residents and making it a better place.

CHERRYTREE TOWNSHIP, Venango County—Those who ask for and expect nothing are often the people who deserve recognition.

At the 2020 Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce 132 Annual Banquet, that statement rang true.

The highlight of the evening, which celebrated what makes Titusville so special — the people — was the awarding of the 2020 Titusville Citizen of the year.

This year there were two recipients, Betty and Carl Meinstereifel, who were reluctant to accept the honor.

“I never even dreamed of winning an award like this,” said Carl, showcasing how the two were very deserving winners.

The Meinstereifels have been educating in Titusville for decades, starting in the early 1960s. Both are former teachers, who were honored Thursday night in front of many former students.

After retiring from the Titusville Area School District, they became even more active in the community. Carl was a member of city council, a member of the Over the Hill Gang working on the Girard Trail, and spent time in the Titusville Kiwanis and Take Pride in Titusville.

Betty has blessed Titusville with her years of gardening, some for the Drake Well Museum. She is an avid gardener and knitter.

The couple is also well known for their time given to the Benson Memorial Library, where they continued their legacy of helping to educate Titusville.

After so many years of giving so much to the community, it was the Meinstereifel’s night to be recognized for all they have done.

For the past 63 years the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce has honored a member of the community with its “highest honor.” President of the Chamber Board of Directors Chris Fiely said that over the years, “We have recognized the accomplishment of special individuals.”

The Citizen of the Year award is one of lifetime achievement for educators, business people and those who preserve and promote Titusville in all they do.

The two decided not to give speeches while accepting the award. Betty said one sentence, saying that she “had a wonderful career.”

After receiving the awards, the two spoke with The Herald about the honor of being citizens of the year.

“To me, the previous winners helped me in my career,” said Betty. “To be in such an elite group is an honor.”

Carl said that one of his mentors when he first came to Titusville was Mabel Clark, who won the award herself in 1976.

Carl said since then he has “just followed in her footsteps” and that led him to where he is today, where he can now join her as a fellow Citizen of the Year.

The pair wanted to thank the people who helped them achieve their goals to make Titusville a better place, including fellow volunteers over the years. To them, volunteering is what makes Titusville.

“To be a successful community you need volunteerism,” said Carl, “It is what makes Titusville what it is today.”

Fiely said that the Meinstereifels throughout their time in Titusville have been caring people who have educated the citizens of Titusville trying to make both the city and the world a better place.

Based on the reception the two received, the mark they have left on Titusville has been profound.

To further honor the dedication of the Meinstereifels, Mayor Jon Crouch read a proclamation from the City of Titusville.

The Mayor commended the couple on their passion and commitment to education, both through their time as teachers and volunteers at the library.

The proclamation also stated that Sept. 10, 2021, is to be known as Betty and Carl Meinstereifel Day. Crouch later said that the two have given a lifetime of serivce, and that he was happy that the community was able to come together and give them the recognition they deserve.

The couple also received recognition from elected officials. Both State Representative Kathy Rapp and State Senator Michele Brooks gave citations to the couple, although they were both unable to attend.

Also recongized at the function was the 2019 Citizen of the Year Greg Tress, among a litany of other businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the community.

The evening was one where those who give to Titusville, according to Fiely, can “sit back” and appreciate the hard work they put into their communities.

After a year where the community had to stay apart, not even being able to hold the annual banquet, the Chamber of Commerce came back with a bang, honoring two very deserving individuals.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.

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