News and Events
  • Wednesday, January 31, 2018
    Thielemann, Draehn named top citizens

    A pair of residents who’ve spent their lives positively impacting Brenham were honored during a night of celebration Tuesday.

    Dr. Donald Draehn and Heather Thielemann were named Man and Woman of the Year during the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet held at Fireman’s Training Center.

    Last year’s award winner, Nina Hopkins, likened Thielemann’s activity and impact on the community to that of a triathlete.

    “She’s organized, passionate and relentless,” Hopkins said. “She actively wants to make a difference in the lives of families, churches and schools here. She’s a servant leader who exhibits kindness and contribution. She addresses needs with compassion.”

    A vice president at Sam Houston State University, Thielemann commutes to Huntsville every day.

    She is active in Maifest, the Faith Mission Thanksgiving Day Meal, Salvation Army, Game Changers, Adam’s Angels and other groups here.

    She said leaders in Huntsville are jealous of the benevolence and type of community that exists in Brenham.

    She can also point to six generations of family in Washington County and said she remembers as a child her phone number increasing from four digits to five.

    “This community has done so much to prepare me,” she said. “I remember as a 6-year-old going around Brenham with my grandmother and wanting to make every home look beautiful. God put in my heart a drive to work on people and help them from the inside out … I love every one of you.”

    Hopkins added that her award from last year sits proudly near the entrance to her home and that she’s “walked on Cloud 9” the past year.

    “It’s the greatest honor I could ever hope to receive,” she said.

    Joe Al Picone presented Draehn as Man of the Year.

    Picone said Draehn has “built relationships,” “has many varied interests” and is a citizen who never says no when asked to help.

    “He’s improved the lives of many and is a true philanthropist,” Picone said.

    A former Brenham Cub quarterback, Draehn began his career as a pharmacist, but went on to become a trusted pediatrician here.

    He served the Brenham ISD school board for 25 years and is on the board of the Unity Theatre.

    Draehn humbly pointed out in his acceptance that his football career was unremarkable, saying the Cubs went 1-10 and 3-8 under his direction at QB.

    “I grew up two miles down the road picking cotton,” Draehn said. “I knew that education was the answer” to having a successful career.

    “I still love to work,” Draehn said. “For all of you who have supported me, I want to say thank you very much.”

    Henry Musoma, a Texas A&M professor, thrilled the crowd with a passionate speech to begin the night.

    Growing up in Zambia, Musoma said education was his route to a better life.

    His own father grew up “in a mud hut with a thatch roof” but went on to graduate from Harvard.

    Inspirational notes from Musoma on the night included “it takes a village,” “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” and “you can count the seeds in an orange, but you can’t count the oranges in a seed.”

    “You are holding the keys to someone’s miracle,” Musoma said, relaying a story of how an American’s kindness in Africa helped pave the way for him becoming a professor.

    Page Michel, president of the chamber, noted that there are 830 members of the chamber of commerce. She’s been with the chamber for 22 years.

    Barbara Wilganowski was announced as Blue Blazer of the Year.