Verity award recipient says knowing Armco executive ‘means a lot to me’

Sam Ashworth named C. William Verity winner during Friday’s Veterans Day luncheon.

Sam Ashworth remembers the first time he met C. William Verity, then Armco Steel’s CEO, in his Middletown office.

“It was like meeting a next-door neighbor,” Ashworth said. “He was like that the whole time.”

Now Ashworth and Verity will forever be linked.

On Friday, during the annual Veterans Day luncheon at the American Legion Post 218, Ashworth, a former graphic artist at Armco, was named recipient of the C. William Verity Award for his continued community service.

Verity served as the 27th U.S. Secretary of Commerce between 1987 and 1989 under President Ronald Reagan. Verity died on Jan. 3, 2007.

“To be honored with something with his name on it means a lot to me,” said an emotional Ashworth, who grabbed a handkerchief and whipped at his nose. “I knew him very well. We became pretty good friends after he retired.”

Ashworth, 81, was accompanied to the luncheon by his wife, Judy Gilleland, Middletown’s former city manager. When Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron, the master of ceremonies, announced Ashworth as the Verity winner, his mouth dropped.

“Total shock,” he said later.

Born in Dayton, Ashworth graduated from Eaton High School and from Miami University in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts. He worked in the design department of Armco for 15 years. In 1979, he started his graphic design studio.

Sherron said Ashworth stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the past recipients of the Verity Award that was first presented in 1964.

An Army veteran, Ashworth is best known for his art work and his years of dedication to the Middletown Historical Society. He served as executive director from 1998-2007 and remains active.

As Ashworth said: “I have a lot to do.”

Keynote speaker Nicole Condrey, an Army veteran and Middletown mayor, said the nation is more divided than ever.

“We’re in a strange position right now,” she said.

She challenged all veterans in the room to lead again by sharing their camaraderie with the rest of the country.

“We need your leadership,” she told them. “Your service is never over. You made a commitment to our country.”

Condrey, part of Team Fastrax, a Middletown-based professional skydiving team, recently participated in the World Championships. While there, she heard a quote that stuck with her: “Pressure is a privilege,” she said.

The four World War II veterans who attended the luncheon were recognized. Those veterans — William Hendrickson, Joseph Holman, Ed McDonald, and Donald Saylor — received certificates of appreciation for their service.

After all were recognized, the group received a standing ovation.

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