Collin Cahill, one of the nine grandchildren of Brenda Cahill, describes his grandmother as someone with a big heart who “puts everybody in front of herself and always takes care of the people around her.”
“If we had more people like my grandmother, the world could get through times like these a lot better,” he said.
Brenda Cahill was recently named the Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
“It just makes you happy when you get up in the morning and know where you are going and what you are doing,” Cahill said. “And to impact somebody else in a good way — I get a pleasure out of it.
“I enjoy people and like people, and Morrilton has a lot to offer. I have a big heart, and I want to use it.”
Cahill and her husband, Don, moved to Morrilton about 14 years ago after her two sons, David and Doug, moved to the area. She and her husband have been married for 57 years after meeting at what was then Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway.
“My husband and I like to go to everything, and we are a hunting and fishing family,” Cahill said. “We would come up here from our home in Pine Bluff, and we would stay with one of our sons. We didn’t like putting them out of their beds, so we found this place and loved it because it was right on the lake.”
In 2007, Cahill started providing food for the elderly who didn’t have the equipment or ability to grill out at their homes. She said her project started when one lady, who was in her 80s, said she hadn’t had a grilled hamburger since before her husband died. Now, the list of people Cahill takes grilled hamburgers to has grown to more than 20 people.
“I grew up with my grandparents. They were living with me and my family from when I was in grade school, until I graduated college,” Cahill said. “I was thrilled to give something to the older people and do something they couldn’t do themselves.
“I gravitate toward so many people, but especially older people. It started as something small but just continues to grow.”
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, or GWFC, nominated Cahill for Citizen of the Year, and the nomination letter states that Cahill can be seen “stacking the local little pantry with groceries so others won’t go hungry.” She has also served as a volunteer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s gift shop on Petit Jean Mountain.
“It doesn’t take long to fit in here,” Cahill said. “This is an easy town to move into and find a niche for yourself. I like Morrilton; it is full of good people.
“People do for people here and help us grow. It is an easy-to-fit-in place.”
Cahill also volunteers at the Conway County Library in Morrilton. She said she has a large collection of historic memorabilia and uses her collection to fill the display cabinet at the library almost monthly, but especially during the holidays. Cahill said she loves Christmas and Easter, saying she even had 17 Christmas trees in her house one year.
“Brenda Cahill has long been an integral part of the Conway County Library,” said Jay Carter, library director. “Brenda carries on a legacy of service and commitment to the library.
“She has been like a mother to the staff, and in fact, we often call her ‘Mom.’ She continuously provides the library with marvelous seasonal displays, and in 2019, she provided a special historic display for the 60th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.”
Carter said Cahill provides food for special events and help when needed and offers valuable feedback from the community, or just “stops by with a smile to brighten our days.”
“We are blessed to have her, and winning 2020 Citizen of the Year is well deserved for her longtime service and commitment to the community,” Carter said of Cahill.
“We can’t say enough about her, except we love her and are thankful to have her as part of our library family,” Carter said.
“I am a gullible person, and these kind of things can make an old woman cry,” Cahill said.
Cahill is a world-champion duck caller from Stuttgart and still chairs a scholarship given in the memory of her mother and father, Chick and Sophie Major. Cahill and her husband run Dixie Mallard Duck Calls in Morrilton, where they make and sell duck calls and teach children and adults how to use the calls.
She also collects toiletries and magazines, as well as large-print books, for residents of area nursing homes. Another project Cahill has undertaken, even though she is not a baker herself, is to provide the ingredients for a cake, including the mix, the measuring cups, frosting and paper plates, for the local women’s shelter.
“The only thing they have to get is an egg,” Cahill said
“We are a great community, and what makes us great is our citizens,” said Morrilton Mayor Allen Lipsmeyer, who helped surprise Cahill with the award. “They are loving and generous leaders. There is no better example than Brenda Cahill. She is a jewel that every community wants.
“Mrs. Cahill gives of her talents and time freely without wanting anything in return. You are very blessed to be on her list. Her food and friendship are the best.”
Lipsmeyer said Cahill truly cares for the community through volunteering and cooking for people in the community, mainly individuals who have lost a spouse or another loved one.
“Her heart is huge and genuine,” Lipsmeyer said. “I am proud she is my friend and my citizen.”
Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or email@example.com.