Former Second Harvest president honored with Sagamore of the Wabash

Aug. 28—ANDERSON — Tim Kean readily admits to not particularly enjoying surprises.

But Saturday, as he and his wife Lois walked into a dining room at the Anderson Country Club to rousing applause from about 40 friends and family members, he decided to just "go with it," he said.

That surprise soon turned to a sense of amazement as Kean learned he was being honored with a Sagamore of the Wabash award in recognition of his years of service as president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank.

"It's almost embarrassing to be recognized in this way, when you know it was so many other people that helped support what you have done, and they are as deserving of this award as I am," Kean said. "They're more deserving, if anything, because they're the ones who did the work."

Kean was nominated for the honor by Tom Simpson, a former board member with Second Harvest whose retirement last year nearly coincided with Kean's. Simpson said in compiling information for the nomination process, he learned that Kean, who spent several years in the grocery business, had an enduring passion for getting food into the hands of the most needy.

In the mid-1980s, Simpson said, Kean started a food pantry at his church. The pantry became a Second Harvest distribution agency.

"As I got to thinking about Tim's tenure with Second Harvest and his impact, Tim's an outdoors guy, and I just couldn't think of a better way to honor him than that," Simpson said. "It's the highest honor that a Hoosier citizen can receive from the governor. I felt Tim was more than deserving of it."

Paul Cox, a longtime friend of Kean's, traveled from Lafayette to speak at the event. He said while there may be more notable honorees, Kean's desire to remain behind the scenes in his work made others around him more effective in theirs.

"I think what makes him a worthy recipient is he just went about doing the job for probably 30 years, serving probably our most vulnerable," Cox said. "He just did it quietly, and I believe he did it well. It makes perfect sense to me that my good friend would get this award."

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