Published online: Feb 22, 2011
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RUPERT, Idaho-Robert Gheen, owner of Gheen Irrigation Works, Inc. in Eugene, Ore., has been selected as the Idaho Irrigation Equipment Association's 2010 Person of the Year.

The IIEA Person of the Year is an award given annually to a distinguished member of the organization that has provided many years of service and accomplishments to the irrigation industry and to the association. The award, which is voted on by the officers and board of directors, was given Jan. 13 at the IIEA membership banquet at the Rupert Elks Lodge, in Rupert, Idaho. Kevin Piper, an employee of Gheen's, made the surprise announcement. 

"I was totally surprised by the honor," said Robert Gheen. "I am humbled and appreciative of this recognition by the IIEA. All of us at Gheen Irrigation Works are honored to be recognized by the industry and appreciate the support of IIEA over the years."

Gheen grew up in the business becoming a permanent employee in the shipping department in 1963. He had worked in the various departments, including welding and galvanizing during breaks from his college studies in engineering at Oregon State University. He became a manager and coordinated between sales and the warehouse. Later, he became the manager over the supervisors and production operations. He became president in the late 1970's. As president and CEO, he sees his role as "the Planner"-setting goals for the future of the company.

His wife, Helayne, had accompanied him to the event. They have been married 44 years. His children Tamera Wobbe and Troy Gheen and their spouses Chuck Wobbe and Dawn Gheen surprised their father by being at the event in Rupert, Idaho, when he was given the award. They had to stay out of sight at the hotel and banquet and texted their mom frequently to see where Dad was so they wouldn't run into each other in the small town of Burley. They stayed hidden at the banquet until Kevin Piper announced that Robert's family was there.

The Idaho Irrigation Equipment Association is celebrating its 40th year as an association.  Members include dealers, manufacturers, and distributors of irrigation equipment products and services.