Sheila Saxton, the longtime assistant to the Independence City Council, is this year's recipient of the Susan Paxton Block Award for Distinguished Public Service.

The award is presented by the Junior Service League to a city employee, volunteer or elected official who has demonstrated outstanding public service, valor and job performance with leadership. Junior Service League Past President Stephanie Merriott presented the award to Saxton at Monday's City Council meeting.

Saxton worked with Block during her long career with Independence, which is at 36 years and still going. Block was a second-generation member and president of the JSL and represented the Third District from 1992 until her death due to cancer in 1996.

“She could be tough, thorough, very organized and worked with a passion for everything she did, and she was fun,” Saxton said. “She also gave her appreciation to all her co-workers over the years and added that she never worked for a council she didn't learn from.

“This means more to me than you will ever know,” she said.

“It touched my heart that someone who knew Susie won this award,” Block's sister Barbara DiBlasi said.

Saxton worked a year with the Department of Defense and then four years at the Truman Library before she joined Independence's tourism department 1983. She eventually moved over to work with council members.

Merriott, reading from the nomination for Saxton, said “To say she's a wealth of knowledge … to anyone who seeks her counsel on any subject pertaining to City Hall or the rich history of Independence, would be an understatement.”

“She's taken more citizen complaints than anybody on Earth,” Mayor Eileen Weir said, “and I would say more citizen compliments, as well.”

Block's father, the late Bill Paxton, established the award to honor her memory and recognize individuals from city employees to volunteers. It is awarded around the time of Block’s birthday, Sept. 24. The award includes a $1,000 plus a sterling silver medallion and a sterling silver lapel pin. Proceeds come from the memorial fund established by Paxton.