Honors bestowed at Chamber banquet

Published 7:42 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

Three persons who gave of themselves and a deputy sheriff who gave his life serving Decatur County were honored Thursday during the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony and Reception, held for the first time at the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center.

The late Robert Armand Griffin, a Decatur County Sheriff’s deputy who died on May 1 in an automobile accident while responding to an emergency call, was honored with the Peace Office of the Year award sponsored by The Post-Searchlight.

Sheriff Wiley Griffin, no relation, and several other Sheriff Department deputies and employees joined Deputy Griffin’s family at the Kirbo Center to acknowledge the award.

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Deputy Griffin’s wife, Rosi Griffin; his son, Jessie Griffin; his daughter, Michelle Griffin; his step-son, Tim Brown; and his mother, Lou Jarvey, and stepfather, Bruce Jarvey, were presented a commemorative clock.

Jeff Findley, publisher of The Post-Searchlight, read one of the nomination letters, saying “‘No greater sacrifice can be given than to give your life in the service of the community you protect.’ I think we would all agree with that sentiment.”

The Peace Officer of the Year, which has been presented 23 times, honors the memory of the late Capt. Wayne Montford and the late Chief Idus Lynn of the Bainbridge Police Department.

“As a member of the sheriff’s tactical response team, Deputy Griffin was not afraid to enter into dangerous situations without hesitation,” Findley said. “Police officers and military members often have thankless jobs, but without their service, we would not be able to live the lives that we all live right now.”

Community Service award

Former Bainbridge City Manager Charles Tyson was given the Community Service Award, which is a special award presented to a citizen that demonstrates the trait of service above self, said Matt Palmer.

Tyson uttered one of his catchphrases, “Well, ain’t it fun?” He then said he loves doing what he does and loves the community.

“Our recipient has worked tirelessly with many non-profit organizations, including the chamber,” Palmer said. “Through his arm-twisting and candor, he has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chamber, the hospital foundation, the arts council and many charities.”

Palmer also teased Tyson about his skills as an amateur auctioneer, as he has served in that role countless times for the chamber, hospital and arts council.

“I bet most people here have been hooked on a bid for an auction item by him whether you knew it or not,” Palmer said. “And then there are a lot of times you wanted to bid on something and he couldn’t see you or hear you. Lord knows what he could have raised.”

After serving as city manager for more than 16 years, retiring in 2002 when he was 70 years old, Tyson recently served as the chamber’s interim president during the transition from former President Cile Warr to current President Evelyn Clay.

“He could have easily have sat down there in that beautiful building and office with his feet kicked back, smoking a big cigar and watching the Flint River roll along. But he did not,” Palmer said. “He rolled up his sleeves and went to work, not only keep the chamber on track, but moving us toward the future by securing funding for a much-needed renovation project of the chamber building.”

Woman of the Year

Joyce Robinson was named the Woman of the Year, which is annually sponsored by the Pilot Club.

“This is truly the most humbling and precious honor,” Robinson said after Pilot Club President Gail Sharber presented Robinson a plaque and the trophy that is passed to each recipient each year. “I will try to live up to such an honor.”

Robinson was nominated by Janice Kell and Judith Maxwell for her work with the Decatur County Support Group for Breast Cancer Survivors Network, the Salvation Army, Southwest Georgia Hospice, her church, First Baptist Church, and the YMCA.

Man of the Year

Darnell Holley, an employee with the Decatur-Seminole Service Center, was named the Man of the Year by Kiwanis President Andrea Markham.

Nominated by Ami Mejia of Family Connection, Holley was cited for his volunteer time for the Hunger Prevention Coalition, the Family Connection’s Family Fun Day at the Bainbridge Housing Authority and his church, the Second St. James Missionary Baptist Church.

Holley thanked the club, but added, “I’m a man of very few words.”

Education awards

Dr. Tom Wilkerson, president of Bainbridge College, recognized two students for outstanding academics, and Amy Wells, a math teacher at the college who was selected to receive the Governor’s Commendation for Excellence in Customer Service.

Anthony K. Jones of Whigham who plans to further his education by earning a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering, and Narda Walker of Blakely, who plans for pursue a nursing career, were recognized for their superior academic achievement.