GREAT FALLS – Husband and wife, Gerry and Chuck Jennings, are this year’s Paris Gibson Award winners.
They were selected by members of the Paris Gibson Month Celebration Committee for their contributions to the Great Falls community.
The Paris Gibson Award is named after the founder of Great Falls and honors volunteerism, leadership and selfless-actions.
There is a long list of accomplishments the Jennings have done since moving to Great Falls 40 years ago with their four young children.
Moving into the Fox Farm neighborhood, they went door-to-door and raised $10,000 to spend on trees, playground equipment and fitness trails at Grande Vista, Meadowlark and Montana parks.
With four children, Gerry has always been really involved with the public schools.
In 1985, working with the superintendent at the time, Jerry Weast, Gerry assembled a group of 40 people to put together a “College Bound” booklet, started the “Visions” newsletter for parents and organized college workshops.
She also convinced the district to start offering Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Eight years ago, Gerry was among the original trustees of the newly founded Great Falls Public Schools Foundation. She is also on the Great Falls-MSU Development Board.
Both Chuck and Gerry are very involved with the nonprofit United Way.
They both were also on the initial committee that started the River’s Edge Trail in the early 1990s. They continue to find ways to improve it and enjoy frequently biking the trail together.
They are also founding members and donors of Friends of the Little Belts, a group devoted to promoting the mountain range and are also active members of the Silver Crest Trails Association.
Through the years, Chuck and Gerry have made several trips to areas in dire need of medical relief. Chuck is a retired surgeon and Gerry puts her nursing skills to work in assisting him.
This is just a small list and they are involved in much more in Great Falls and the surrounding communities.
“It feels terrific,” Gerry said. “You know I mean what we do is not for awards, but to help the community become a better place to live, encourage others to come live here and for people to recognize that is pretty special.”
Chuck said, “There are a lot of good people here, first of all, who support this community, much as we have tried to do and in many ways we’re humbled by this award because we know there are many others who qualify equally well for this award.”
As winners of the 10th annual Paris Gibson Award, they will receive a $500 check to donate to their charity of choice, a plaque and tree to put in West Bank Park. They will also ride in this year’s 4th of July parade.
Gerry added, “I think Great Falls as a community has an amazing history in Montana.”
Previous Paris Gibson Award winners include: Doug Wicks, 2010; Norma Ashby, 2011; Greg Hall, 2012; Ian & Nancy Davidson, 2013; Gene Thayer, 2014; Bill & Joan-Nell Macfadden, 2015; Arlyne Reichert, 2016; Sheila Rice, 2017; and Brad Talcott & Linda Caricaburu, 2018.
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News