The Port Arthur News
The annual “Mr. Nederland” award is about honoring one man who has made Nederland a better place to live through his efforts and dedication.
This year deviated a bit from the standard. This year was about the cumulative efforts of every man named Mr. Nederland since the award was established in 1982.
“It sure is nice to be recognized,” Police Chief Darrell Bush, the 2003 Mr. Nederland. “We appreciate all that the festival does.”
The idea came to Wanda Hollier, executive director of the Nederland Heritage Festival, while she was looking at a list of past winners.
“I literally started listing all the organizations they’ve been involved with,” Hollier said. “It was very overwhelming, emotionally, for me. I felt like they deserved another round of applause.”
A handful of past recipients were honored at the Nederland Heritage Festival mixer at the Knights of Columbus building, 315 Hardy Ave., on Tuesday. Others have gone, as Hollier said, “to the big windmill in the sky.”
“It leaves a hole,” Hollier said of the departed Mr. Nederland winners. “They were fun guys, and each one was a mentor to someone in this room.”
The list of Mr. Nederland recipients reads as a veritable Who’s Who of the city. M.L.C. Lucke, the 1989 winner, was president of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce that procured an exact replica of a Dutch windmill that now stands on Boston Avenue as the Dutch Windmill Museum. Bill Quick, the 1994 Mr. Nederland, was responsible for La Maision Acadienne, the city’s French House. Billy Doornbos, named Mr. Nederland in 1983, donated land for the city’s parks.
“Nederland’s landscaping would look totally different without these men,” Hollier said. “We’re blessed to have a group of men who stepped up and filled the vacancies.”
The list also includes a state representative (Rep. Allan Ritter, 2001), six councilmen, 22 Chamber of Commerce presidents and members of the Board of Directors, two police chiefs, one fire chief, and two mayors — including current Mayor R.A. “Dick” Nugent, named the 2010 Mr. Nederland.
Nugent likened the list of winners to a fraternity, albeit a secret one.
“We’re around them all the time, and they’re all involved in different phases of the city, but unless you see the list, you don’t know who they are,” Nugent said. “We don’t go around with a sign around our neck that says, ‘Hey, look at me — I’m Mr. Nederland.’”