Chamber event honors fallen, welcomes new leaders

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The theme of this year’s Sealy Chamber of Commerce banquet was “Superheroes” and there was no shortage of Wonder Women and Super Men in the audience Friday night.

In a contest hosted by The Sealy News, Superman ousted Spiderman as the favorite superhero, 37-33.

The late Sealy Fire Chief Eric Zapalac, who died suddenly in November, was honored, as was banker and local humanitarian Wayne Schomburg.

Incoming Chamber president Jon Snell was officially inducted, and outgoing president Lisa Caton also was recognized.

“Our theme Superheroes is really a validation of our core mission as a Chamber – to continuously improve the economic prosperity, business environment and quality of life in the Sealy area for everyone,” Snell said.

Caton said she was privileged to be part of the Chamber board.

“Sealy is a great community that comes together in times of sorrow and joy, and that embraces challenges and creates opportunities to lift one another up,” she said. “I am fortunate to be part of such a great community and to have been given the opportunity to serve through the Chamber of Commerce.”

The community continued its healing process as the Zapalac family was honored with a proclamation from Texas Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, read by Sealy Mayor Janice Whitehead in honor of the late Chief Zapalac. The family was seated at the front of the room with a large red Z as the table’s centerpiece. Zapalac’s widow Kelly Zapalac fought back tears as she accepted the proclamation from Whitehead, who recalled teaching piano lessons to the former fire chief when he was a child.

“He served the citizens of Sealy and Austin County with distinction,” Whitehead read from the proclamation. “He was a warm and giving man who loved his family … He generously shared his skills and his expertise with his colleagues, friends and family, and he will be long remembered … He was a devoted husband and father, and he leaves behind memories that will be treasured forever by his family and his countless friends.”

Schomburg’s widow Marcella accepted recognition on her late husband’s behalf.

“Throughout his life, Wayne gave generously to organizations in Austin County where he helped to build a healthy, strong community – not for ay accolades, but because he believed that it was the right thing to do,” stated a brief biography in the event program. “He had a servant’s heart.”

The following awards also were presented:

•Walmart Supercenter No. 437 was awarded the 2017 Pinnacle Award.

•Austin County News Online.com was awarded the 2017 Business of the Year.

•Christian City Fellowship was awarded the 2017 Shining Star Award.

•Woodmen Life Chapter 105 was awarded the 2017 Shining Star Award.

•Nancy James was awarded the 2017 Volunteer of the Year.

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