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2009 Rotary Citizen of the Year - Earl Dabbs
020909 ROTARY CITIZEN OF YEAR 1
Earl Dabbs is congratulated by Billy Hickman, right, after being named 2009 Citizen of the Year by the Rotary Clubs of Statesboro and Downtown Statesboro during a banquet at the Forest Heights Country Club Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Earl Dabbs was unaware Monday as he attended the club’s weekly luncheon that he would be honored as the 2009 Rotary Citizen of the Year. Dabbs is a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Statesboro.
    But, as club member Charles Brown dropped clues as to the honoree’s identity during an introduction, Dabbs got the idea.
    “After Charles talked a little while I kind of put the pieces together and knew he was talking about me,” Dabbs said. “I was pleased and humbled that my peers would recognize me with that honor.”
    Nominations for the honor are accepted by members of both the Downtown Rotary Club, which meets in the morning, and the Statesboro Rotary Club, which meets at noon. Monday’s luncheon was a joint meeting of both clubs due to the special award presentation.
    As Brown began his clue-filled introduction, guests looked around the room as they tried to guess the honoree’s identity.
    “Our Rotary Citizen of the Year has lived out an example of community leadership and placing service above self,” he said. “The lifelong work of our honoree in our community certainly will inspire us to serve others.”
    He listed several of Dabbs’ achievements and prior honors, including that he was named a Watts Fellow and Paul Harris Fellow within the club.
    Dabbs also served as a past president of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce;  a past president of the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation (the OTC accounting lab is named in his honor); a past chairman of the First United Methodist Church administrative board; a member of the Georgia Southern University College of Business Administration Business Advisory Council;  and past chairman of the Downtown Development Authority.
    Even after his retirement, Dabbs spends a great deal of time traveling “nationally and internationally in an effort to bring jobs into our community,” Brown said.
    Dabbs is an honor graduate in accounting from the University of Georgia and has “post graduate training in taxation at Vanderbilt and New York universities,” he said. “He worked for the (Internal Revenue Service) for several years, eventually coming over from the ‘dark side’  to the light of 33 years of advocacy for our taxpayers.”
    Brown also spoke of Dabbs’ well-known sense of humor, relating a couple of humorous incidents including a time he fired a shotgun into a drainage pipe in an effort to eradicated an armadillo. Brown told the group about the glee Dabbs’ grandchildren found in that story, to the point they gave him a gift of a leather armadillo.
    He also related a tale about Dabbs being stuck in an elevator at the couple’s beach residence in Florida.
    After Brown finally identified Dabbs and invited him to come forward and accept his honor, Dabbs took the stage with a smile. “I do humbly appreciate this award,” he said. “When I look back to the previous recipients ... I am very humbled that you have selected me.”
    Dabbs had praise for the community.
    “Statesboro has been good to me, Bulloch County has been good to me,” he said. “There is no substitute for friendship, and I am so thankful that I can call the people in this room my friends. Thank you again and God bless you.”
    After the meeting adjourned Dabbs was surrounded by club members and guests who congratulated him on the honor. Later Monday afternoon, he reflected upon the day’s events and said he had indeed been surprised by the honor.
    “I’ve always tried to do the right thing to do and whatever is good for the community,”  he said. “I don’t do things for recognition, and everything I have done has all been rewarding to me.”

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