Linda Long doesn't like the limelight, but for at least one night, the Routt County native didn't have much of a choice.
Long and former Hayden resident Sumner Hockett were recognized by the Tread of Pioneers Museum on Monday as the recipients of the 2004 Leckenby and Larson awards. The ceremony was held at United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs.
The Leckenby Award is presented annually to a Routt County resident who is actively involved in the community, responsive to past and present community needs, contributes to the future of the area and represents the pioneer history of the county.
Those who know Long said she easily meets the award criteria.
"Linda Long truly epitomizes the meaning of dedication and devotion," said Terry Doherty, coordinator for the Routt County Fair Board.
Long has spent the past 32 years serving as a Routt County Fair superintendent, 28 years as a local 4-H leader, 20 years as a fair judge, 15 years as a fair association board member and 10 years as a member of the Colorado State Fair Board. In 2003, she was named the state's fairperson of the year.
Long has volunteered with the South Routt School District for more than three decades, and she serves on its School Board.
"She is the epitome of the volunteer, the worker, the helper, the caregiver and the friend," longtime friend Susi Crowner said during the award presentation. "She is constantly aware of the needs of others and is always willing to lend a helping hand."
The granddaughter of Routt County homesteaders, Long quickly learned to appreciate the history and culture of the area, and she has a strong sense of devotion to helping others, Crowner said. Her home is always open to friends and neighbors and those in need.
"Her heart is as big as the outdoors she loves," Crowner said.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd win," Long said of the honor. "I don't do it for the awards, I do it because it's in my heart."
Hockett, a former Hayden mayor and town councilman, was the winner of the Larson Award, which is given posthumously to individuals who served the public institutions of the area, preserved local history and contributed to the county's heritage.
Born in Oklahoma in 1911, Hockett moved with his family to Hayden eight years later. The move kick-started Hockett's long and influential career in the small Routt County town where he would farm, serve as a mail carrier, work on road improvement, mine and enjoy success as an entrepreneur, among other ventures.
After serving for two years as a town councilman, Hockett became Hayden mayor in 1953. He was instrumental in promoting the Hayden Power Station, organizing the Hayden Fire District and pushing the town to join the Colorado Municipal League for guidance on future growth and development. Hockett worked with county officials to locate Yampa Valley Regional Airport outside of Hayden. He also was instrumental in organizing the Yampa Valley State Bank and served as president of its board.
Hockett was a two-term Routt County commissioner and served on numerous county boards, including the Upper Yampa River Conservation Board. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 84.
"He enjoyed every day," Duane Hockett, Sumner's son, said. "What he did helped everyone else, and that was his reward.
"He never really cared much about awards. He wanted to help the community and help people. That's what he enjoyed."