Concord Town Social

ATHENS — Two individuals, the Athens Volunteer Fire Department and First Community Bank’s Athens branch will be recognized Sunday at the Athens-Concord Town Social by the ACTS Committee.

Celebrating its 33rd year, the annual gathering is set for Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the front lawn of Concord University in Athens. Individuals, organizations and businesses that have enhanced the community and campus life of Athens and Concord University are honored each year at the gathering.

The Town Social Committee will be presenting the following awards: Elder Citizen, Dr. Karl Fezer; Good Neighbor, Deborah Baxter; Business Longevity, First Community Bank - Athens; and Total Community Involvement, Athens Volunteer Fire Department.Several scholarships will also be presented to Concord University students.

The Athens Lions Club will announce the Citizen of the Year and the Beautification Award recipients at the social.

The Town Social features craft and food vendors, business and organization displays, live musical entertainment and children’s games. Tying in with this year’s theme of “Arts Alive in Athens” several artists will be among the vendors, and living history and dance performances are on the schedule.

Launch of the 2019 Fire Hydrant Paint Contest will also be part of the festivities. Artists of every age are being invited to submit their designs for the contest which involves repainting fire hydrants in the Town of Athens. Design submission forms will be available at the Town Social.

Karl Dietrich Fezer was born in 1930 in Tenafly, NJ. In 1951 he earned a bachelor’s degree at Cornell College of Agriculture, and continued his education by receiving a master’s degree at Haverford College. He earned his PhD at Cornell’s Department of Plant Pathology in 1957.

He then worked for the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, as an instructor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Botany. He devoted six years of research to barley and wheat diseases, working to prevent the next epidemic. During this time, he cultivated broader interests in the history and philosophy of science, which led him to teaching undergraduate biology courses and to serving three years on the faculty at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD.

In 1966, together with his wife and four sons, he moved to Athens WV, where he started work as chairman of the biology department at Concord, serving from 1967 to 1985. He taught classes in general biology, genetics, micro-biology, evolution, biology seminars, and independent research, as well as general physical science, astronomy, science and religion ethics, among others. In the early ‘80s, he helped found the National Center of Science Education, and served on its first board, as well as serve as editor of its bimonthly periodical. He was president of the WV Academy of Science for one year.

Dr. Fezer received the Interdisciplinary Incentive Award made jointly by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This made possible a sabbatical as Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. At this time he started writing his own book “Scholarly World, Private Worlds” and years later, the book was published.

Along with his job at Concord, he has been a farmer, gardener, grew Christmas trees, and was a member of the Lions Club, receiving his pin for 45 years of service. He is considered an “Amateur Philosopher”. Even in his later years, he still has the ability to teach on many levels and many different subjects. 

Deborah Baxter is known around town as someone who is always willing to help her neighbors in times of need. This special caring takes a variety of forms, but is always accomplished with the same spirit of generosity.

Deborah graduated from high school and attended Beckley College before coming to Concord in the early ‘70s. The path of her life changed, however, and she left college, married, and became a mother. Even so, she never lost the desire to become a teacher.

In the early ‘80s Deborah returned to Concord and finished her degree and began her teaching career in Mercer County. She taught at a number of different schools in the county until she took a permeant position at Athens Elementary. She taught there until her retirement in the spring of 2017.

Along the way, she met the love of her life, David Baxter, and they were married in late ‘80s. Regrettably, he passed away in 2018. She has two sons, David Joseph Cantrell, who resides in Warren, PA, and SFC Samuel Cantrell, US Army retired, who lives in Clarksburg, WV.

Deborah spends most of her time presently working with an afterschool tutoring program through the Athens Baptist Church, occasionally subbing in positions at Athens Elementary School and entertaining the newest addition to her family, “Bo”, a Maine Coon cat.

The AVFD has served the community for more than 90 years. While a volunteer department by name, this organization operates like a larger, professional department. Weekly training meetings, a dedication to having up-to-date vehicles and apparatus and an impressive ISO rating make them a topnotch group. Recent renovations to the South State Street station are also noteworthy.

 On a non-emergency basis, the AVFD is a valuable part of the community as well. Their community service includes visits to schools for career days and other events to talk about fire safety and service with the department. The flashing lights and whirring sirens from their shiny red fire trucks are a staple at Concord’s annual Homecoming parade, and the sprinkler they set up at the Town Social is popular with the kids to cool off and have fun.

Contact Jeff Harvey at

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