Jo Sapp posthumously presented with 2013 Lang Award

Monday, April 1, 2013 | 9:09 p.m. CDT; updated 10:50 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 1, 2013

COLUMBIA — Jo Sapp died of cancer in September of 2012, but her legacy was able to hold the attention of a conference room full of people on Monday. There was no rustling or listless shifting to be heard during the presentation, and upon it's conclusion there was a respectful standing ovation.

Jo Sapp is the first person to posthumously receive the Howard B. Lang Award. The award recognizes individuals who have done outstanding service and significant volunteer activity. The award was presented at Monday night's City Council meeting. Jo Sapp was represented by her husband, David Sapp, her daughter Lesley Sapp, and her son, Michael Sapp.

"The award would have meant a lot to her, especially that it was being awarded on April Fools' Day," David Sapp said.

Jo Sapp didn't volunteer for recognition or resume padding; she volunteered because she saw it as a way of life.

When she was 24, she wrote "my primary goal in life is never to feel I have arrived, I want to be involved, if you aren’t involved you really are dead, whether your heart has stopped beating or not." Her husband, David Sapp, read aloud his wife's manifesto at the presentation.

And she lived out her words.

Despite having what David Sapp described as a "nomadic childhood," Jo Sapp made Columbia her "adoptive hometown" and wanted to give back.

Jo Sapp was a fixture on many committees within Columbia and also had a hand in starting many institutions within the community.

Among her long list of group associations, she was a key member of the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County. From 2006 to 2008 she was the president of the statewide League of Women Voters, the first Columbia woman since 1934 to hold that position.

Jo Sapp also helped establish Columbia's public access television station and the city's Office of Cultural Affairs. 

"Because of Jo’s involvement with so many committees, the council decided a city council meeting was the correct place to present this award," Mayor Bob McDavid said.

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