The City of Johnsonville presented the 2019 Christmas Star Award to Robert “Bobbie” Hirst for his outstanding service to the community since moving here in 1977. City Councilman Gary Arthurs recognized Hirst at the City Council meeting on December 3.
Hirst moved to the United States in the early 1970s from Guatemala. He met and married Nancy Helbig when they both lived in Boston, Massachusetts and they moved to Johnsonville in December of 1977 to be closer to her parents (Phillip and Nan Helbig) who resided here.
In making the presentation, Arthurs noted that Bobbie Hirst began working at the Wellman Club in 1985 and stayed until the course closed in November of 2011. “Bobbie maintained the course after it closed without being paid until 2016 when it was bought by a local businessman,” Arthurs noted. “He was able to maintain it because a few local townsfolk generously made contributions for fuel and parts, but many times he paid for those items with his own money,” added Arthurs.
Arthurs also commented that Hirst volunteered to interpret for the Johnsonville Police Department when they had a Hispanic prisoner if needed. “Bobbie also would repair the elderly folks golf carts and would not take a penny of compensation,” Arthurs added.
When Hirst first came to Johnsonville, he and Victor Papitto moved a small building from Marion Street to its present location off of Railroad Avenue to be used as a Catholic church. Again, he did it without compensation.
Arthurs concluded, “Bobbie is a very kind hearted person, always willing to do anything folks ask him to do. He has, without a doubt, the strongest work ethic of anyone I’ve ever known or worked with.”
The City of Johnsonville presents the Christmas Star Award annually to recognize a local citizen or organization for outstanding service to the community. Previous recipients are: Randolph Willis (2008), Mildred Hughes (2009), Eugenia Cossaboom (2010), Fearless Dunahoe (2011), Carl Skinner (2012), Dale Strickland (2013), Jackie Stasney (2014), Johnsonville First Baptist Church (2015), Edie Cain (2016), Peter Knoller (2017), and the Johnsonville Festival Committee (2018).