Virgil "Skip" Bower was Scoutmaster of Troop 122 in Harlem – now part of North Kansas City – from 1934 until 1997 – 63 Years!  This still remains the longest known continuous tenure of any Scoutmaster in the 106 year history of the Boy Scouts of America!  Before becoming Scoutmaster of Troop 122, he attended college and graduated from William Jewell in 1933.  He began his career as an Educator and found gratification in influencing and motivating young people to strive for excellence.  This is when he began his tenure at Troop 122.  He later became the principal of McElroy Dagg Elementary School, only to have his tenure cut short by the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Like so many young men, Skip answered the call of his country and served in World War II as an officer in the Navy.

Skip returned to North Kansas City, and in 1948, entered the Banking profession – serving as a public relations representative.  He always made time to help any young men, and in turn – they became one of Skip’s boys!

Skip was awarded the Silver Beaver in 1939, and was awarded the District Award of Merit in 1968.  He was a Sagamore in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say.  Skip passed away on August 31, 1997 – ironically on the same day that many of us received the September/October 1997 edition of Scouting Magazine, with Skip and some of his boys on the cover!  It was an article celebrating his 63 Years as Scoutmaster!  He had truly become “Internationally Famous.” You can read the article on Virgil Bower here.

The H. Virgil Bower Scoutmaster Award was presented for the first time in 1998. In 2010, the eligibility for this recognition was extended to all leaders of every Unit; the award is now presented to the Outstanding Unit Leader of the Golden Eagle District. In 2022, the North Star district created the Scoutmaster and Cubmaster of the Year awards, retiring the Virgil Bower Award.

Year Recipient Unit Charter Organization
2021 Marjorie Manzo Pack 288 Northminster Presbyterian Church
2020 Jim Higgins District  
2019 John McBurney Troop 374 Liberty Presbyterian Church
2018 Mike O'Neil Troop 374 Liberty Presbyterian Church
2017 Joe Davis Troop 612 Seeds of Faith
2016 Denver Harris Troop 155 Fairview Christian Church
2015 Jerry Adams Troop 261 St. Therese Catholic
2014 David Lehman Troop 397 Kearney Lions Club
2013 Ray Graskemper, Jr Troop 374 Liberty Presbyterian Church
2012 Henry Creagh Troop 303 King of Kings Lutheran Church
2011 Edward A Hughes Troop 214 Knights of Columbus St. James Council 6780
2010 Larry Strickland Troop 357 St. Luke Presbyterian Church
2009 Norman Smith Jr. Troop 395 Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church
2008 Willie Mead Pack 900 North Oak Christian Church
2007 Steve Roberts Troop 495 Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
2006 Jeff Adams Pack 348 Dorthy's Beauty Salon
2005 Jeff Cook Troop 992 Church of the Cross Cumberland Presbyterian
2004 Randy Hayes Troop 247 Gashland Presbyterian Church
2003 Jeffrey R. Goertz Troop 376 Liberty United Methodist Church
2002 Clarke Stokes Troop 433 Heartland Presbyterian Church
2001 Russell Downing Jr. Troop 395 Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church
2000 Randy Meador Troop 288 Northminster Presbyterian Church
1999 Paul Crooks Troop 374 Liberty Presbyterian Church
1998 Bill Glenn Troop 376 Liberty United Methodist Church