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DECATUR — Born Thuan Huynh, Tammy Fadler has come a long way from her days growing up the oldest of 12 children in Vietnam.

A successful entrepreneur who didn’t stop until she helped all 27 members of her extended family join her in the United States, Fadler will come to Decatur next month as the keynote speaker for the 2013 Women of Excellence Awards banquet, co-sponsored by the Decatur Family YMCA and the United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois.

Thirty-three women and 26 high school juniors and seniors are nominated for Women of Excellence and Young Women of Excellence Awards.

“I believe in my heart that each of us is responsible for our own success,” Fadler said in a telephone interview from her office in Festus, Mo. “Too often, we let outside circumstances determine what we can and cannot do.”

Fadler faced many difficulties that could have derailed the course of her life, including the poverty that kept her from continuing her education beyond the fifth grade and the horrors of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War that claimed the life of the boy she loved in 1968.

Yet working for the U.S. military as a teenager, as a cook, waitress and eventually bookkeeper for food services, showed her a different future was possible.

She came to the United States in 1973 at age 21, already using the American first name a GI had given her in Vietnam and eventually getting a new last name when she married another soldier, Dick Fadler, and settled in his hometown in Missouri.

Overcoming language and societal barriers, Fadler today is president/CEO of Commercial International Properties and Signature Properties, a mother of two grown children and grandmother of five.

“I am so grateful for the veterans,” she said. “Because of their service, the next generation of my family has so much more to look forward to than the one before.”

Nominees:

DECATUR — The community and social service category will be the most competitive in the 2013 Women of Excellence Awards, drawing 13 nominations, followed by the education category, which has seven.

Here is the list of 33 women nominated in the 2013 Women of Excellence Awards:

Community and Social Service: Mary Cave, Mary Clare Cummins, Marilyn Davis, Barbara Dunn, Emily Dobson, Amanda Duckworth, Alida Graham, Joyce Keller, Julie Roundtree Livingston, Sister JoAn Schullian, Deborah Seitz, Diann Spannaus and Kathleen Taylor

Education: Jodi Ferriell, Susan Fustin, Janice Kahila, Marciann O’Brien, Julie Pangrac, Deborah Slayton and Felicity Williams

Business or professional: Jacqueline Petersen, Leslie Roberts, Katrina Smalley and Tina Suzewitz

Woman of the year: Bailey Broderick, Sheri Brown and Lisa Holder White

Science and medicine: Shireen Baseeth and Carol Dodson

Athletics: Anne Cooper

Government and politics: Susanna Zimmerman

Labor: Nancy Behymer

Here is a list of the 26 high school juniors and seniors nominated for Young Women of Excellence Awards:

Argenta-Oreana: Kandie Block, Emily Boland and Alexandra Stupek

Eisenhower: Mikayla Josephine Eastman and Allison Kerper

MacArthur: Sarah Buchen, Ashley Cook, Sage Marie Walker, Olivia Wernecke and Paris Woods

Maroa-Forsyth: Baylee Stimler

Meridian: Zoie Sheets and Hannah Wolfe

Mount Zion: Brooke Jackson

St. Teresa: Maranda Archer, Kaitlyn Crawford, Shae Genebacher, Ivy Handley, Amy Kuhle, Tracy Kuhle, Rachel Marchisello and McKenna Wilson

Warrensburg-Latham: Emily Eaton, Alison Edwards and Megan Elizabeth Hughes.

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