EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

 for Sun, July 27, 2008

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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 1 July 27, 2008     

Ann Criswell to receive Award
By Barbara A. Schmitz

Photo by Bonnie Kratz

If you look up volunteer in any Oshkosh dictionary, it should say Ann Criswell.

Thatís 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 Dorothy Hilbert.

"Ann 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."

Thatís 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.

Her first 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.

When her 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.

Although 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 to be."

Her 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."

And while 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.

"I 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."

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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