Bishop honors Lima’s Black leaders with Drum Major Awards


Drum Major Awards honor service

By Tyler Deitsch - [email protected]



Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, middle, stands with the 2021 Drum Major winners, from left, Dr. Francis Oruma, Roseline Cookey-Oruma, Sharetta Smith and Bob Proby.

Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, middle, stands with the 2021 Drum Major winners, from left, Dr. Francis Oruma, Roseline Cookey-Oruma, Sharetta Smith and Bob Proby.


Emily McBride | The Lima News

LIMA — Sunlight flooded the sanctuary on a frigid Sunday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Lima, as Bishop Daniel E. Thomas gave the homily.

His visit was for a special purpose; the Diocese of Toledo gives the Drum Major award every year to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Speaking before the event with Brett Huntbrinker, a senior director with the Diocese, he explained that since 1996 they have recognized people who have been put forward by their communities for their service.

“(We’re) honoring their accomplishments that reflect the life and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King,” Thomas said.

For the 2021 award, three awards were offered during the service. They were Dr. Francis Oruma and Roseline Cookey-Oruma, Bob Proby and Mayor Sharetta Smith, all from Lima.

Oruma and Cookey-Oruma shared an award for their work in home health care with their company, Continued Care, Inc. They immigrated to the United States from Nigeria to further their educations and to help people in their times of medical need. Cookey-Oruma is a nurse and has a passion for individual care which inspired them to create Continued Care, Inc.

“Home health care is my wife’s passion,” Dr. Oruma said, “… however we are not expecting any award for it so we give the glory to God.”

Bob Proby is a Marine veteran, having served in the Vietnam War, and an Air Force reservist, who gives back to his community and church. Proby is a busy member of the community, volunteering as the coordinator of the community soccer program and serving as secretary of the Lima Black Caucus. He and his wife, Sharon, provided pastoral care to people at Lima Convalescent Home.

He has served St. Charles Borromeo Parish for 16 years as sacristan, lector, usher and as a member of the worship commission.

“It’s a great honor,” he said, drawing parallels between the beliefs of Dr. King and the message Bishop Thomas gave during the homily.

The final recipient of the Drum Major award was the newly elected mayor of Lima, Sharetta Smith. Smith is the first woman and Black person to be elected to the office. Prior to her election, she served in the judicial and executive branches of government as assistant district public defender and magistrate for Tennessee’s 11th Judicial District and as chief of staff for former Mayor David Berger’s administration.

“I’m honored to receive this award and join the past recipients ahead of me,” Smith said. “I think the message that Dr. Martin Luther King (gave) is a message that we should all follow, one of unity that I talked about during my campaign that our success will be measured by what we can accomplish together.”

The homily spoke to Smith as well, saying that the campaign for mayor was daunting but she did what spoke to her faith. Her message to people seeking ways to give back and make a difference in their communities is to “bloom where you are planted and just start where you are,” continuing that “a family can change a block, one block can change a neighborhood, and one neighborhood can change a city; so start where you are.”

Community members can nominate anyone in the Diocese over the age of 14. After the nomination, a committee at the Diocese chooses the recipients. The committee takes into consideration several factors, such as whether or not the person’s life and work are in harmony with Catholic values, and how they are striving in the spirit of Dr. King’s work to help the underserved.

“They try to move the event to a different congregation in the Diocese every year on the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, returning to Toledo every five years,” Huntbrinker said.

Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, middle, stands with the 2021 Drum Major winners, from left, Dr. Francis Oruma, Roseline Cookey-Oruma, Sharetta Smith and Bob Proby.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_031A0612.jpgBishop Daniel E. Thomas, middle, stands with the 2021 Drum Major winners, from left, Dr. Francis Oruma, Roseline Cookey-Oruma, Sharetta Smith and Bob Proby. Emily McBride | The Lima News
Drum Major Awards honor service

By Tyler Deitsch

[email protected]

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