Once the picture of John Shuler flashed up on the screen, heads around the room began nodding in agreement. The photo of a much, much younger John – pulled from the Carmel Chamber of Commerce archives – became a timely icon to depict a man who has gracefully aged while on an impressive journey with the chamber and his community.
So after these words were spoken, “Please join me in congratulating John Shuler as the third winner of the Harold Kaiser Lifetime Achievement Award,” the audience members leapt to their feet.
As Shuler looked out across the audience from behind the podium, trying to recover from the shock and surprise, he was overcome by emotion when he spotted his family. His son, John Hughes Shuler, made it in from St. Louis and his daughter, Amy Hannen from Carmel, was there along with his wife, Pat.
He reminisced about working alongside many of the Carmel mayors over the years as well as getting a chuckle from the crowd when he remembered the day Mayor Jim Brainard showed him a picture of a roundabout.
“Who knew?” he said.
Seeing a roundabout only on paper or imagining a green, peaceful park when the site was nothing more than a gravel pit is one of the primary reasons Shuler was chosen to receive this award.
He coordinated the land donations which now are known as Hazel Landing Park and Founders Park. He also worked on establishing the Flowing Well as a park.
A strong advocate for city planning that works, Shuler served on the Old Meridian and Range Line Road Task Forces while giving his time to the 116th Street Improvement Task Force and chairing the 96th Street Business Coalition.
The Carmel Symphony Orchestra received the benefit of his talent, and one of his finest and most unique moments was when he suggested and pulled off a concert below ground. The symphony performed Concert in the Quarry at Hazel Dell and 96th Street, with all audience members riding busses to the bottom of the quarry to enjoy the performance.
The reason John Shuler is known and loved by all is because of what he said to his wife after receiving the award.
He said, “I am so moved by this award but no more deserving of it than any others. I just did what people asked me to do.”
But of course, we all know that is not exactly true. So let this award set the record straight.