Marshall Browning Hospital CEO Dan Eaves was honored as Du Quoin's Citizen of the Year as the city hosted its annual gala Wednesday night at the American Legion.
Dan Eaves may have "retired" from a long career in banking, but life is full of second acts.
It was just that sort of career reawakening that awaited Eaves, who nearly 20 years after retiring as CEO at Du Quoin National Bank returned to the fold in a far different role: as CEO of the struggling Marshall Browning Hospital.
But that change, announced in 2015, has paid big dividends for the hospital and Eaves, who has been widely credited with a dramatic turnaround of the once-troubled institution. On Wednesday, the Du Quoin Chamber of Commerce honored Eaves as its Citizen of the Year for 2016 in recognition of his efforts.
"I was just in between jobs," said Eaves, echoing the joke made by Richard Haines, president of the Marshall Browning Board of Directors, during his introduction.
Eaves said his decision to take on the new role grew out of his lifelong philosophy to "never be satisfied."
"There's just too much to do," Eaves told the crowd. "It's something different every day. Don't be satisfied. Never be satisfied."
During Eaves' time as CEO - he was elevated to the post from the hospital's board of directors - the hospital has seen several notable improvements. In early 2016, Marshall Browning opened urgent care seven days a week and also added new emergency room physicians. In addition, the hospital brought in Morthland College Health Services as the new provider of hospitalist services last year.
"What has happened is simply amazing," Haines said.
The recognition of Eaves was the highlight of the chamber's annual banquet, which was held at the Du Quoin American Legion and included a meal of meatloaf, green beans and mashed potatoes catered by St. Nicholas Brewing Company. About 180 people were in attendance at the event, which bore the theme "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" and also included an extensive silent auction.
Du Quoin Unit 300 Superintendent Gary Kelly presented this year's Emerging Business of the Year Award to Du Quoin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, citing both the organization's rapid growth and its enduring focus on its patients and quality care. The center's administrator, Merle Taylor, accepted the award.
"This really does mean a lot to us," Taylor told the crowd. "The care of the residents is our top priority. If you haven't gone to visit a nursing home, come see us. We'd love to have you."
The Business of the Year Award went to Chip Banks Chevrolet. Presenter Tracy Fenton joked about how owner Chip Banks regularly receives fan mail meant for the former National Football League linebacker of the same name. Fenton noted, however, that in Du Quoin and southern Illinois, the local Chip Banks has built a respected reputation all his own.
Banks said that in turn, he has great respect and love for the city that has given him so much.
"It's been a great 20 years in Du Quoin," Banks said. "It's been a great experience and a great life, and part of that is living in a great place like Du Quoin."
Chamber President Robyn Laur Russell presented this year's President's Award to Denise Woodsides, who serves as the Future Business Leaders of America adviser at Du Quoin High School. Woodsides, who attended the dinner with a table full of students, said she never fails to be amazed by the things of which they are capable.
"The ability to see these students step outside the classroom and learn is amazing," Woodsides said.