Model of service: Ed McKenney receives chamber President’s Award

February 2016 Posted in People
Mount Angel President’s  Award recipient Ed McKenney

Mount Angel President’s
Award recipient Ed McKenney

By Tanner Russ

Ed McKenney is the Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce President’s Award recipient for 2015.

It is easy to see why he was chosen. McKenney’s resume speaks for itself.

McKenney, 84, is the cofounder of GEM Equipment of Oregon along with George Everts. The company was established in 1969 and provides services to the French fry potato industry such as engineering, and installation of new equipment along with rebuilding food processing equipment.

Throughout the growth of the company, McKenney has held a strong belief in community support and volunteerism. He has encouraged his employees to be involved in their communities.

And he leads by example.

McKenney has served on the Woodburn and Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce boards of directors and Mount Angel Chamber’s Legislative Committee. These experiences led to many friendships that he holds in high regard.

“Being involved in a company like this and community like Mount Angel, you get to know, deal with, and be friends with an awful lot of very fine people,” McKenney said.

He served on the Silverton Health Foundation Board from 2007 to 2012. He served two one-year terms as president of the board at the end of that tenure. He also received the Foundation’s Silver Spirit Award in 2013, which is given to someone who has served both Silverton Health and its communities in outstanding ways.

“I was on the hospital foundation board for five years, and that was a matter of a having a chance to help a tremendous organization, and a tremendous organization is awfully nice to have in the same town as somebody that’s past retirement age lives, and needs more medical care,” McKenney said.

He also worked with was the Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council, a group that works to increase community wellbeing by reducing violence to children and drug and alcohol abuse. For McKenney, the chance to work with public safety officers was a big reward.

“We are so fortunate to have the caliber of the public safety people that we have. I’m talking about the sheriffs, the police chiefs, the district attorney, they’re just exceedingly fine people that do a great job for Marion County. It’s nice to be able to go to a meeting periodically and get to know these people. Normally I try to live my life where I’m not a target of law enforcement. I wouldn’t get to know them otherwise,” McKenney joked.

McKenney has volunteered his company and employees to build and install new stainless steel kitchen equipment at Mount Angel’s Fr. Bernard Youth Center and is an active supporter of the organization.

When asked about what to say to those who also wish to be active in their community, McKenney borrowed a line from Nike.

“Just do it.”

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