Hearld Ambler, whose long record of community service includes helping senior citizens prepare tax returns for the past 27 years, was honored Dec. 8 as the 2016 Humanitarian Award recipient at a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel in Springfield.
Ambler was nominated by the SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging and the Senior Foundation of the Ozarks for his service as a volunteer, mentor, wise leader and friend for the SeniorAge’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. It offers free tax counseling to residents 60 and over at a number of sites, including senior centers.
“His gentle smile, calming demeanor and ‘wink of assurance’ have comforted confused tax filers, frazzled tax volunteers and over-their-head TCE coordinators,” wrote nominator June Huff. “Because of Hearld, we’ve all been able to say ‘I believe I can do this’ and then proven we can.”
At the luncheon, Starr Kohler lauded Hearld, a longtime accounting professional, for his willingness to share his knowledge and experience with seniors in need of help with their tax returns as part of SeniorAge’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, which she estimated has saved more than $1 million for local seniors since its inception. She also shared the story of how, faced with a switch to e-filing rather than paper returns, Hearld’s willingness to learn inspired the TCE’s older volunteer base and quite possibly saved the program.
“You don’t come across a brain trust like Hearld very many times in a lifetime,” Kohler said.
The Humanitarian Award was founded in 1990 by Springfield donor Jewell Thompson Schweitzer to honor individuals in our region who excel at serving others in a humanitarian capacity. The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce organizes a committee to review nominations and select the annual recipient.
The winner receives a $5,000 cash award, which Ambler announced would be split evenly between SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging, Senior Foundation of the Ozarks, Developmental Center of the Ozarks, Friends of the Zoo, and Harmony House.
Ambler retired in 1986 from BKD, LLP, where he worked as its first Managing Partner from 1976-1986. He started with the firm in 1948 and helped lead its growth from a regional accounting firm to the nation’s 12th largest.
Ambler has served other area organizations, including Friends of the Zoo and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, where he was one of 11 founders of the region’s public charitable foundation in 1973. He served the CFO in various volunteer roles for 38 years and established the Hearld and Marge Ambler Scholarship Fund, which offers a preference for accounting majors.
This year’s selection committee was comprised of the Chamber’s Chairman-Elect John Wanamaker, Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith, Debi Meeds, Bob Roberts, Dr. Robert Spence, the Rev. Mark Struckhoff, and Jaimie Trussell.