The only possible surprise on Monday, March 12, when the Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce named both Jerry and Twyla Pruden as “Citizens of the Year” was that it had not previously happened before 2018, especially given both of their already long and distinguished histories of community service in Hope and Hempstead County.

The only possible surprise on Monday, March 12, when the Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce named both Jerry and Twyla Pruden as “Citizens of the Year” was that it had not previously happened before 2018, especially given both of their already long and distinguished histories of community service in Hope and Hempstead County.
Whether as a couple or individually, their resumes are impressive.  For Jerry Pruden, there has been seats on the University of Arkansas at Hope/Texarkana Board of Visitors and UAHT Foundation Board for over 20 years, where he still serves as current Board of Visitors Secretary and Foundation Board member.
He is also current Chairman of both the Hope Water and Light Board of Commissioners and the Hempstead County Library Board of Commissioners, not to mention a current member of the Southwest Arkansas Water District Board of Directors and current Treasurer of the Hope Kiwanis Club.
For Twyla Pruden, there is a current term as President of the Hope Civitan Club, of which she as been a charter member since 2009, and terms as both president and secretary of the Southwest Arts Council, where she has been active since 1989 as well as serving as a former chair of the Rainbow of Challenges board of directors.
And the lists for both Prudens could literally go on and on.
A week after receiving the award, on Monday, Jerry Pruden said "We were very surprised and humbled at being chosen for such an honor.  It is so gratifying to have our friends and neighbors consider us worthy of being named 'Citizens of the Year,' "
"We both like to be involved and believe it is our responsibility to work for the good of the community we live in.  It was especially nice to have us honored as a couple,“ Jerry Pruden said.  
"Jerry's family set a precedent for him in public service here in Hope and he has always been involved in a number of civic and community causes and organizations," said Twyla Pruden.  "I moved here in 1988 and we married in 1989; so, for almost 29 years we have tried to do our part as a couple and as a family to help in any way we can to keep Hope a wonderful place to live."
Jerry Pruden was a Certified Public Accountant by profession, having been in private practice in Hope for 28 years before retiring in 2013.  Twyla Pruden had served as an administrative assistant at UAHT before retiring last August after almost 8 years.
Twyla Pruden also worked for 11 years at Hope Public Schools and had a short stint at KXAR radio in sales and news.
Local Hempstead County historian and radio personality Mark Keith has long known the Prudens, saying “I recall meeting Jerry at the Kiwanis some time in 1988, and he was the accountant for the radio station; he was single at the time.  Twyla was hired to work at the radio station back then selling ads, and I recall being there one day with Jerry, and the station manager saying ‘I just hired your future wife…’ As it turned out, that is what happened.”
The Prudens are parents of two sons. Their first son, Jim, was born developmentally disabled and passed away at the age of 16.  The Prudens have endowed a scholarship at UAHT in his memory, with a scholarship presented annually to a student who wants to complete his or her education to become a teacher in the field of Special Education. The Prudens' younger son, Isaac, 24, is a graphic designer, presently living and working in Seattle.
Keith said “Knowing them both for 30 years, I’ve known them to be fine people, good people, and over the years, they’ve both done a lot of good for this community.”
Both Prudens are members of Hope’s First United Methodist Church, where not surprisingly, both have served on various committees and leadership roles.
One of Jerry Pruden’s current roles at the church as a Sunday School teacher understates his other posts as the church’s Board of Trustees Chair and member of the Finance Committee and Administrative Board.
Twyla Pruden is a current member of United Methodist Women and is serving as a Southwest District UMW officer, and she is also a member of the Administrative Board and Finance Committee, and she too, is a former Sunday School teacher as well as former member of the the Pre-School Committee.