Friday, May 30, 2008

A tribute from the MD/DC Credit Union League

The MD/DC Credit Union League is an organization that supports the several hundred credit unions in the MD and DC region. They hold an annual convention each year in Ocean City. I've been to many of them with Chris and her COMSTAR family.

In 2005 Chris was awarded the Judith A. Burgin Professional of the Year Award. A very prestigious award that she was so deserving of and nominated for by her CEO Lisa. At that convention they would also hold a special awards breakfast for just the marketing awards. There are quite a few categories and each category is broken up by credit union size. That way tiny one's aren't competing with the huge ones. Each year Chris would represent COMSTAR and would win anywhere from 4 to 8 individual awards. Of all the jobs that she had she really enjoyed the marketing the most and it showed.

The 2008 convention is coming up but now the marketing awards are done at a separate luncheon in order that more people can attend. Wednesday I attended this year's luncheon with Alex, Lisa (COMSTAR) and Chris's Mom and Dad. At that luncheon the awards were given out as usual but this year the audience was in for a surprise. A new award has been created by the League and they have named the award in Chris's memory. The award is called

The Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show

I was told about this a few weeks back and was very much looking forward to being there to present the award for the 1st time. After arriving MikeBeall (CEO of the League) let me know that he was going to ask me to say a few words. Never a problem for me. After hearing Chris's name and all of her accomplishments, we were introduced. I will have to admit that addressing the audience of Chris's peers was the most difficult thing that I have ever had to do. I was very choked up, but was able to say a few words.

I am so grateful to everyone involved in this award. This is the most thoughtful thing that could have been done to honor Chris. Her name will be on that award for every year from this year on. One day the winner will say "Who is Chris DeWitt"? Once they look it up they'll be just as amazed then as the current winners are now.

Excerpts of the Speech delivered by Michael Beall, CEO, Maryland & District of Columbia Credit Union Association, at the Trailblazer Awards luncheon, Wednesday, June 28, 2008.
“Because this award recognizes significant achievement, it deserves a name
that also represents success and recognizes results. In that spirit, one individual’s name was suggested and it was agreed upon immediately.
The individual whose name will become synonymous with the “Best of Show” special award is … Christine DeWitt.
Many of you had the pleasure of knowing and working with our deceased friend and colleague, Christine DeWitt. Christine was the vice President of Operations of COMSTAR FCU before her untimely passing. I’d like to give you a brief biography of this special person.
Chris settled into her first career job as a credit union teller She progressed to positions of increasing responsibility while raising three children. The last position Chris held was Vice President of Operations of COMSTAR Federal Credit Union. Some of Chris’ accomplishments included: leading her credit union’s operational efforts through two credit union mergers; directing aggressive branch expansion from 2 branches to 7 branches, and more than 10 ATM machines; serving on a number of Board Committees including Asset Liability Management; winning the 2004 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s Diamond Award of Merit for radio advertising, a 2005 award for COMSTAR’s “Rooted in Service” campaign and MDDCCUA’s 2005 Judith A. Burgin Professional of the Year Award.
In July 2004, Chris was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy – while only missing less than 7 days of work. When Chris was too ill to travel to the office, she worked via e-mail and phone – all part of her typical work ethic and commitment to the credit union. Sadly, Chris succumbed to breast cancer and passed away on September 11, 2007.
Chris’ dedication and commitment to excellence exemplifies the qualities of the best. So it is only fitting that the new “Best of Show” award be honored with the name of Christine DeWitt.
The MDDCCUA’s special award will be called the Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show.
And, now, I would like to introduce some of Chris’ family members who have joined the celebration today - Chris’ husband, Charlie DeWitt; her daughter, Alex DeWitt; and her parents, John and Pat Barr. I’d also like to welcome Lisa Whitaker, President/ CEO of COMSTAR FCU. Please join me in a round of applause to celebrate this special recognition of Christine DeWitt.
(It’s at this point that Charlie says a few words…)
And now with great pleasure, I would like to announce that the winner of the first Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show is . . . NIH Federal Credit Union.”

MD/DC Credit Union League

This posting came from the President of the MD/DC Credit Union League. I attended a special function there on Wednesday. Sorry... more to come on that soon!!!!

Mike’s Minute
by Michael V. Beall, CEO (Click hyperlink for Mike's bio)

Life and the Governmental Affairs Conference

Tributes to Don Beall and Chris DeWitt

CUNA held its annual Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) last week, and for the first time in decades it was NOT held at the Washington Hilton. Everything changes, and the conference made the move to the bigger, brighter DC convention center. It was fantastic, yet I found myself a little bit reflective of times past at the Hilton, and was taken back a bit into my own family memories of the old venue.

GAC was time that I got to come to several years’ worth of events with my Dad, Don Beall. Many of you knew my father and his work at NASA FCU until his death on June 4, 1991. 17 years ago – it hardly seems possible. He always made a big deal about the GAC and my reaction to it changed over the years.

As a younger boy, I found the trips to the Capitol and offices of members of Congress to be exciting. It whetted my first appetite for politics and the law. I always wanted to be a lawyer growing up, and these early trips to Congress focused me on this aspiration. As a teenager I rolled my eyes at my Dad’s enthusiasm for the battles of credit unions such as obtaining the ability to offer checking accounts. Later, in 1991, I had lunch with him at the Hilton the February before he died to deliver resumes that he could pass out to friends and colleagues – he wanted to be sure I GOT a job, and that it was in credit unions.

So, this year as I led a delegation of British CU representatives around GAC as part of our partnership, I listened as they talked about fighting the same CU fight to be able to offer checking accounts. The more things change the more they stay the same. And I couldn’t help but think about what it would be like to have had my Dad meet me for lunch at the GAC as a retiree and provide advice on all the latest legislative maneuvers to be contemplated for our CURIA bill.

On my return back to the office I received an e-mail from Charlie DeWitt, the husband of Chris DeWitt, formerly VP of Operations for COMSTAR FCU. Christine passed away after a fight against breast cancer on September 11, 2007. Charlie was providing me a link to the blog about Christine’s battle with cancer that has also turned into a blog on life after her passing.

I didn’t know Chris well. I actually came to know her when she was nominated for and won MDDCCUA’s Professional of the Year in 2005. She was a very determined lady in her fight, and well loved by her family and credit union friends. And, as often happens, I made the connection between what Charlie and his family are going through in their first year of loss. For me, its been lots of years since losing my Dad, but I still miss him, and still wish that he could be here to see where credit unions are fighting the good fight on lots of issues.

Seeing her pictures on the blogspot reminded me of the moment we were together onstage as she received her award. She was so very proud that day.

Each one of us has loved ones and friends in this credit union movement that have passed away. Today, take a minute and remember someone at your credit union that is no longer with us, and help the next member with the enthusiasm of the person you miss. I will be using that passion for our next MDDCCUA meetings with Senators Cardin and Mikulski to get them on the new Senate version of CURIA. I know my Dad would have been fighting away for the legislation if he were here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Visit from a friend

This past weekend my good friend Rich from Rochester, NY came down for the long weekend to spend with me. He gave up time with his own family to spend it with me and my family.

He came down on Friday and we went to a Frederick Keys game. Saturday was a trip into Frederick and since he is somewhat of a civil war buff we visited the Monocacy Battlefield in Frederick. Good history there. That's the battle that prevenented the Confederates from attacking Washington, DC. Later Saturday our friends Danny and Brenda came out and we all went out to dinner at La Paz. This was one of Chris's favorite restaurants.

Sunday I took Rich and the kids out to historic Harper's Ferry, WV. Another very important place during the civil war. The aerial view above is from a very high cliff over looking the area. We are going up there next time!!! Here's some pictures of the day there. The weather was spectacular and we had a relaxing lunch overlooking the town.

Later that night Tyler made a bonfire in the backyard in his firepit under the trees. Rich and I just sat and chatted until late in the evening.

Monday, we took Rich to the airport and then went over to D&B's to sit around the pool and enjoy the rest of the beautiful weather.

This was probably one of the better weekends that I've personally had in awhile. Friends and relaxation were a big part of it.

Thanks Rich!

Today I'm off to a special event that I'll update tomorrow. Hint... It has to do with Chris.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Alex makes the conference honor roll.

Alex received notification today that she was placed on the MAC Conference's Academic Honor Roll! She was very excited! This is obviously in addition to making the honor roll at her college as well.

ANNVILLE, Pa. – The Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Corporation spring Academic Honor Roll, which notes academic excellence by student-athletes, contains 270 honorees as announced by Executive Director Ken Andrews.

The Honor Roll comprises those student-athletes of sophomore class standing or higher who participated in a varsity-level sport and registered a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 (4.00 scale) or higher and completed the playing
season in good standing...

Click HERE to read the whole story. Alex's name is down on page 3 with Women's Lacrosse.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Confirmation and Camp Jamie

The above picture was taken at the Chocolate Gala for the Wig Closet that we attended a couple weeks ago. It was taken by a profession photographer and it came out very well.

This was a very busy weekend. It started with Michael leaving for a special bereavement camp on Friday night. It’s offered through the Hospice and he was one of only about 25 or so children are selected. It is called Camp Jamie and has been in place for quite a few years. He was gone all weekend and I picked him up around 1 pm on Sunday. He was paired up with a "big buddy" who essentially was with him the whole weekend. I'll be having a followup conversation with his buddy some time this week. Michael came home with a lot of nice things, blanket, flower pot etc. and he indicated that he had a good time.

Friday night was Tyler's confirmation at St. John's. He started confirmation late last summer and Chris helped get him started. Our good friend Marianne had her baby on Monday so she could not continue to be his sponsor. Alex stood in for her and all was good. A bishop from Baltimore was there. Tyler was actually chosen to do one of the readings as well. It was nice.

Saturday was the annual community yard sale. Chris always took care of this. We had some things to get rid of and Tyler and I took care of it all as Mike was away and Alex was at work. We did sell our old furniture from the basement so that was a relief.

Sometimes I actually look forward to Mondays after such a busy weekend. Today was one of them!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lycoming Memorial Brick

The memorial brick that was purchased by the Lycoming Women's Lacrosse team is now installed on the steps of of the entrance to the quad. Since 1939 when the gate was installed, it is unlocked only 1 time a year and that is for graduation.

Chris's brick is installed on the 2nd step and will be there forever.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New arrival to the world...

It is with great pleasure that I would like the announce the wonderful arrival of Nicholas Cameron Kreiner. He arrived in this world on Monday May 12'th at 4:30 AM. He weighs just under 7 lbs and is 20.5 inches long. Full head of hair too!

Proud parents are Andrew and Marianne Kreiner. Marianne worked for Chris at COMSTAR and has become a close frieind of mine.

Marianne told me that she was pregnant back in September when Chris was in the hospital, right before she passed away. I told Chris about her in the hospital and she was so very excited, even with all the drugs you could tell she was so pleased.

After Chris came home on September 10, Marianne came to our house that evening and when Chris saw her for the 1st time in a few weeks she called out "I know, I know... " I will forever remember that moment.

Welcome to the world Nick! Uncle Charlie can't wait to hold you!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

For the last several weeks every day we would open the newspaper, hear on the radio, or see on TV something about Mother's Day. We all knew that it was coming and we all knew that it was going to be a very, very difficult day.

Well our expectations were spot on. I woke up early, of course, and got up. Every year we would always make breakfast in bed for Chris and sit around with her while she ate. The kids would run upstairs with presents in hand and give them to her. Always, she would be thrilled with the present no matter what it was. Not just to make the kids happy, but because she truly loved an appreciated each and every thing that she ever received.

We all got ourselves together and went to the 11am mass. Sitting in front of us was a woman and her husband and 3 very fidgety kids around the ages of 1,2 and maybe 3. They we very cute and really made the mass go by quickly even though it ran over. The mother apologized several times for the distractions, which all of us immediately assured her that it was perfectly fine! We didn't mind at all. During church the priest said a special blessing for all the mothers in attendance and they were all asked to stand up. It really sheds a different perspective on your life when something you truly love and cherish is no longer there for you.

After mass we walked over and had brunch at Beans and Bagels. Rich was there and we chatted for awhile. We then finished our food and headed to the car. In the car were all the supplies that we had gathered the day before for our Mother's Day present for Chrissy this year.

We drove to the cemetery and began to unload the car. We had mulch, topsoil, tools, and lots of flowers! We are allowed to have a 1 foot perimeter around the base of the headstone in which to plant flowers, which is what we did for Chris today.

Alex had not been to the cemetery in awhile and when she saw the marker she began to cry. The boys had been there before and were doing okay, but just being there on a day that is meant to be joyous and wonderful was a bit overwhelming.

We were there for about an hour and of course while we were there digging and planting it began to rain. Tears from above as I saw it. As you can see from the photos the area looks very nice and I'm sure that Chrissy would really have liked it.

We got home around 3 or so and each of us spent the next 5 hours in somewhat seclusion. Michael in the basement, Alex and Ty upstairs in their rooms and I in the family room. It rained the rest of the day and continues to do so now as I type. This day really took it's toll on my family. We've been busy with sports, work and school recently and it took a day like this to really remind us of what has happened to us.

I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to see my children at the grave site of their mother on mother's day. That's not something that ANY child should EVER have to endure. BUT we all know that my family is not alone and that being there to honor their mother on this day shows how strong my children have become in the past few years. They have endured a lifetime of pain and suffering in so little time.

Tomorrow is another day and Mother's Day will be behind us. We will begin to prepare for the next day and continue on from there.

To all those mothers and soon-to-be mothers (M!) we wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ty's Injury

Last Saturday Tyler injured his thumb in his lacrosse game. After 5 days of complaining about it and playing in 1 other game during the week I finally made an appointment for him to see the Dr. Turns out his thumb was broken. We spent the better part of the day getting x-rays, consults, and finally a visit to the orthapedic. He ended up getting a cast put on it for 4 weeks. Poor little guy! He missed his lacrosse game on Friday night and will miss the final game, yes final, on Monday. The seasons are pretty much over now. Only Michael has games until early June then he is done too.

Today is Sunday and this year the annual Frederick Marathon changed their route and the course takes all the runners through our community. In fact they run right by the entrance to our street! We all got up early this morning and went down to the end of the street and set up camp to watch the runners go by. It was really great seeing how determined everyone was.

A guy in a van came up and gave us a box of orange slices, poptarts, and pretzel sticks to hand out. That was fun to be able to stand there and help out. Next year we may do the same thing ourselves. Not run, hand out things!

This weekend is the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. It is the 1st time in 4 years that I have not attended. It's rather bitter sweet as you may imagine but I know several people that are walking this year, my neighbor being one of them. Chris will be remembered for sure, but I couldn't get myself to go down there. It was always hard just being there with Chris, I can't imagine being there w/o her.

Instead, all the kids and I are attending a Tea and Desert fund raiser this afternoon. We bought tickets in which all the monies are going to the Wig Closet at the FMH Cancer Center in Frederick. This is where cancer patients can go and get loaner wigs and hats during chemo treatments. Chris was a recipient of several hats and the group is just wonderful. She never wore a wig or even considered it for that matter. She was a baseball cap wearer. Every day she wore a different one. And had many that matched outfits she wore for work. I still have them all.

That's it for now. Alex is home and we're together once again...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Alex coming home!

Yesterday Alex's lacrosse team lost in the semi-finals (again) to FDU-Florham. It was the 3rd year in a row they lost by a very close score in the semi-finals.

She is coming home now as I type. It will certainly be a relief to have her home for awhile. The boys are excited to have her home as well.

Here's the writeup from the FDU site:

MADISON, NJ – The top-seeded College at Florham Devils used four goals apiece from senior midfielder Lindsey Specht (Jackson, NJ/Jackson) and junior midfielder Erin Reilly (Cinnaminson, NJ/Cinnaminson) to knock off fourth-seeded Lycoming, 15-13, in the MAC Tournament Semifinals.

With the win, the Devils improved to 15-2 while the Warriors dropped to 9-8. The Devils will advance to the MAC Tournament finals on Saturday afternoon against second-seeded Elizabethtown, a 15-9 winner over third-seeded Messiah.

The Devils scored five of the first seven goals of the game to grab a 5-2 lead with 16:34 left in the first half. Specht scored three goals for FDU. With the score 6-3 in favor of FDU, Lycoming scored four of the last five goals of the half to tie the game up at 7-7 heading into the intermission.

FDU started strong in the second half, ripping off three straight goals to grab a 10-7 lead. The teams then traded two goals apiece with the Devils holding a 12-9 lead with 15:25 left in the game. The Warriors then scored three of the next four goals to cut it to 13-12 with 8:13 to go. That’s when Reilly stepped up for FDU, scoring to put the Devils ahead by a score of 14-12 and assisting on a goal by junior attack Amanda Wayne (Bellport, NY/Bellport) that gave the Devils a 15-13 lead with 1:02 remaining. The Warriors had the ball with under a minute and a chance to cut the FDU lead to a goal but great defense by the Devils allowed them to secure the win.

Wayne finished with three goals while sophomore attack Linda Bohn (Vernon, NJ/Vernon Twp.) had two goals and an assist.

The Devils return to action on Saturday, May 3, 2008, at home against Elizabethtown in the MAC Tournament Finals beginning at 1 pm.