Four nominated for Man of the Year

Published 11:00 am Friday, January 11, 2013

Four men have been nominated for the 2012 Decatur County Man of the Year Award, which will be presented by the Bainbridge Kiwanis Club at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet on Thursday, Jan. 24.

The four nominees are Joe Davis, Benny Harrell, Mike Harrell and Bruce Kirbo Sr.


Joe Davis

Joe Davis

Joe Davis, a local businessman and minister, was nominated by June Gainous.

Davis owns a car wash in downtown Bainbridge, where, according to Gainous, he employs young men, mentors them and offers them a second chance.

He is also the social pastor at New Harvest Ministry Church in Bainbridge. He volunteers at the Friendship House of Jesus, where he ministers to young men.

Davis has a prison ministry, in which he visits inmates at the Decatur County Jail, the Decatur County Prison and the Bainbridge Substance Abuse Treatment Center. He also speaks at “Celebrate Recovery” meetings held at local churches.

He is the founder of the Road to a Second Chance Ministry and provides an annual Christmas celebration for the participants.

“Joe Davis loves people, works hard and always tries to lift the spirits of those around him,” Gainous wrote in her letter to the Kiwanis Club. “He seeks to improve the lives of those in need of spiritual and physical nourishment, and I believe these are characteristics that represent all that is good in our community.”


Benny Harrell

Benny Harrell

Local attorney Benny Harrell was nominated by another local attorney, Jami L. Lewis.

Since 2010, Harrell has served as a board member of the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority. He is an active member of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce and served as the president of the Decatur County Bar Association in 2012.

As a member of the Bainbridge Rotary Club since 2010, Harrell serves on club committees and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 2012 for his outstanding dedication to the club and his community. Through his work with the Rotary Club, Harrell has been involved in numerous projects and fundraisers that benefit the community.

As co-chairman of the Rotary Club’s Casino Night in 2012, he planned an event that raised $16,000, which was used to purchase new technology for Bainbridge High School Science Technology Engineering and Math program.

Other civic involvements include Decatur County Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society, the local United Way chapter’s “Day of Action” service event and the annual “Read Across America” literacy event celebrating the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss. For the past two years, Harrell has dressed up as a Seuss character and read to local students, Lewis stated.

“He is a definitive role model and personally, I feel very fortunate to raise my child in a community where moral and ethical leaders, like Mr. Harrell, set such a positive example for our children by giving so selflessly to others,” Lewis wrote, in her letter to the Kiwanis Club.


Mike Harrell

Mike Harrell

Mike Harrell, president and CEO of Southwest Georgia Oil Company, was nominated by David Sarrette Sr.

Harrell is actively involved with the YMCA and has served on its board of directors. He is a past president of the Bainbridge Rotary Club, a local service organization. He has served on the Board of Trustees for Bainbridge College and the board of directors of the Bainbridge Housing Authority and the Decatur County Library Foundation.

Harrell is an alumnus and active supporter of Florida State University, and has taken many local students to attend athletic events there.

“Mike also donates quietly to many charitable organizations in need of financial assistance,” Sarrette wrote, in his letter to the Kiwanis Club. “One of the many benevolent things Mike does with the help of his daughters is to go out and buy Christmas presents for needy families and deliver them in person.”

Among his many business accomplishments, Harrell is a member of the Young President’s Organization, a global network of young chief executives. He has served on the board of the Georgia Oilmen’s Association and was a past board member of First United Ethanol LLC.

Harrell and his family are members of First Baptist Church.


Bruce Kirbo Sr.

Bruce Kirbo Sr.

Bruce Kirbo Sr., a retired attorney and philanthropist, was nominated by his friend, Dewey Robinson.

Along with his wife, Cass, Kirbo Sr. helped other citizens to establish the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA. The Kirbos have been fervent supporters of the YMCA’s swim team and basketball program.

The Kirbos are the directors of the Kirbo Foundation, which has given financial support to many Decatur County organizations.

During his legal career, Kirbo was the solicitor of the Decatur County State Court between 1955-1987. He served as the appointed attorney of the City of Bainbridge from 1970 until his retirement and as the Board of Education’s attorney from 1979 until his retirement.

“I have known Bruce for more than 50 years as a local attorney, business leader and head of the Kirbo trust, which has been instrumental in more areas than I can count, such as the Bainbridge YMCA and Bainbridge College, just to name a few,” Robinson wrote, in his letter to the Kiwanis Club. “I have always found Bruce to be helpful in any way possible that might make Bainbridge and Southwest Georgia a better place in which to live.”

Other past civic organizations Mr. Kirbo has held leadership roles in include the Bainbridge College Board of Trustees, the Decatur-Seminole Training Center, the Bainbridge Jaycees, the board of the Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity and the original organizer of youth baseball in Decatur County.

Kirbo is also an elder at the Bainbridge First Christian Church.