Baum, 98, has been active in the Kiwanis Club since its days of meeting at Hatcher's banquet room downtown. He still attends weekly meetings and participates in projects. The salute to Baum included a "This is Your Life" video narrated by Gordon Brown, prepared with the assistance of the Baum children, James, Paula and Susan.
Baum's actual first name is Malvern. He picked up the name Bob when he began working for the Gas Service Company in Kansas in 1930.
Brown traced Baum's life from his birth in Colorado in 1911 through his family's travels as his father found work as a ranch hand, ending up as a hotel owner in Salem, Missouri in 1928. A graduate of Licking High School, Baum married his wife, Reba, in 1940, and was inducted into the military in 1942. Several of his V-mail letters from overseas were included in the video.
After the war, Baum returned to working for the Gas Service Company and came to Monett. The video traced the family's homes, starting humbly at the Broadway Hotel, and the community service offered by the couple. Baum was named Legionnaire of the Year by Hobbs-Anderson Memorial Post 91 for 2006-07.
"James calls him 'the Energizer Bunny' because he keeps going and going," Brown said. "Bob has been an example for us. It is with pleasure that I present him with the award for Kiwanian of the Year."
Baum received a standing ovation from the club.
"It's been a good life in Monett. Thank you," Baum said.
The main order of business for the night was the installation of new officers. Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor Donald Davis, of Carthage, administered the oath of office to Frank Washburn, the new president; Gordon Brown, the president-elect; and Eric Kean, vice president. Jon Suit and David Honeycutt returned for another year of service as secretary and treasurer respectively. Randy Henderson received the past president's pin and will continue to serve on the board of directors for another year.
Rod Anderson and Frank Compton were recognized as they completed their terms on the board.
Serving on the board for the coming year will be the officers plus Clif Crockett, Norm Hammond, Kevin Huffmaster, Don Weber, Ron Stair and David Steward.
"Kiwanis is a service and training organization," Washburn said in describing the mission in the year ahead.
At the Kiwanis International meeting this year, Washburn said leaders discussed applying the same energy that has been used on eliminating iodine deficiency to a new cause. The new goal will be to target elimination of maternal neonatal tetanus. The international goal will be to raise $110 million, save the lives of 129 million babies and eliminate the disease by 2015.
Locally, Washburn said, the club will continue its local support of scholarships, the Key Club, the Monett Area YMCA, Junior ROTC and the Kiddie Playground at South Park. Declining membership has hampered the club's work, he said, and a committee has been started to improve club numbers.
Washburn talked about pursuing the six permanent objects of the Kiwanis Club which were established in 1926, one of which is pursuing "a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service, and to build better communities" through local clubs.
"If we can do all this in the next year, we will have left a better place," Washburn said.
Henderson closed his year as president recalling the club's primary focus of service. He passed on the traditional gifts of the president: the oversized pair of shoes to fill and the Kiwanis chapter charter with comments from past presidents written on the back of the framed mat.
"This is a great club and a great town," Henderson said.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program.