Two longtime Western Wayne residents were recognized for their dedication to the community. 

At its annual dinner, Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce honored Tom Munchel and Mick Fowler for setting an example through humble and generous service.

Several years ago, the theme for the chamber’s Canal Days festival was “Small Town, Big Heart.” 

Shortly after, the chamber created an award with that same name to honor people who have especially taken care of and supported their fellow residents.    

“These individuals can be hard to find because they give their support away from the spotlight, not looking for any acknowledgment,” said Silvia Bowman-Hamilton, a longtime chamber board member, as she introduced Munchel. “When we contact the recipient to interview them, they always say they haven’t done anything special.”  

She described Munchel as a neighbor, friend, mentor, coach, advocate and cheerleader. 

Munchel moved to Cambridge City in 1965 and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1969.  He has spent his life farming in Wayne and Fayette counties.

Munchel’s community support began early with his participation in the Young Farmers group that built dugouts at the youth baseball park. He also supports local students in 4-H auctions. 

Jim McLane, left, congratulates Tom Munchel after he was honored during the Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner. Photo by Joshua Smith 

He has served many organizations, including St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, where he’s a Eucharistic minister. Munchel gives many hours each year to the congregation’s largest fundraiser, selling pork chops at Canal Days. 

Several years ago, he saved some discarded wood from the church during a remodel and repurposed it into small crosses. The priest blesses each cross and Munchel distributes them when someone needs a blessing. 

Munchel also served for 12 years on Western Wayne Schools’ board, and Bowman-Hamilton said he continues to be the schools’ biggest advocate and cheerleader. 

He stepped up as middle school girls basketball coach when the team was in danger of not being able to play. Munchel attends as many sports competitions as possible, even when he has no grandchildren on the teams. 

Munchel also has delivered meals for Western Wayne Senior Center and supported the Western Wayne Food Pantry at Cambridge City Christian Church. 

“With too many friends to count, Tom is the first person someone will call when they need a hand, knowing he won’t hesitate to be there for them,” Bowman-Hamilton said. “Whether it’s helping a fellow farmer fix his equipment or jumping in to make sure a sick or injured farmer gets his crops planted or harvested, his answer is always yes.”

Mick Fowler 

In addition, chamber officials presented Fowler with a lifetime service award.

While presenting the award, former chamber president Beth Leisure said that Fowler has been a hard worker all his life as well as a hard worker for the community. The entrepreneur also has been active with Kiwanis, town council, the chamber and other efforts through the years. 

Mick Fowler is introduced by Beth Leisure during the Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner, where Fowler was honored for his service to the community. Photo by Joshua Smith

Leisure said Fowler is always the first person to volunteer his time or financial support for community activities — everything from packing holiday baskets to mentoring school kids, organizing events and setting tables. 

“Mick’s accomplishments are too many to list and his humble attitude is too great not to mention,” Leisure said. “Whenever there was a job to do, he has always done it without an expectation of gratitude or reward.”

Chamber activities

Cambridge City’s chamber, led by President Tamra Davis, supports or organizes several programs throughout the year beyond Canal Days, such as Independence Day fireworks (which will be July 6) and Winter Wonderland. 

The chamber is currently taking vendor registrations for eclipse weekend festivities called Cambridge City Moon Fest on Main through March 31. Spaces will be available on April 6-7 for pop-up canopies on the front lawn of the former Central School. 

Chamber members also will begin adding to their veteran banner display along U.S. 40. Details will be available soon about how to sponsor a banner for a Western Wayne veteran. 

A “Get Connected” social networking event over appetizers is scheduled for July 18 at Lakeview Restaurant.  

For more information about chamber programs, visit or call 765-541-8936. 

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A version of this article appeared in the March 27 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.