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5 receive Lifetime Achievement Awards
Edith Hutchison

Five local citizens were honored for devoting their lives to serving others during the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards banquet held Tuesday night at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Conference Center.

The recipients - Nan Rushing, Charles Sikes, Nancy Stubbs Waters, Lannie Denmark Lee and Edith Hutchison - have been known for years by their generosity toward others, making sure life is better for them and performing random acts of kindness wherever they saw a need.

The gala honored 19 others for service to the community as well as a man recognized for his humanitarian efforts.
Bruce Yawn introduced the Deen Day Smith Lifetime Achievement Award winners, detailing reasons each deserves the award.

Edith Hutchison

"One of Bulloch County's community churches has been blessed for over 77 years by a lifelong member who takes charge whenever she sees a need," Yawn said of Edith Hutchison, who "taught vacation Bible school and Sunday school for years. All her life, she has faithfully cooked wholesome and delicious meals for pastors, funerals and dinner on the grounds - and still does."

He spoke about how she and her husband, "who had a big truck with benches in the back, would pick up kids all over Stilson and bring them to church."

She started a teen club on the weekends in an old log cabin so the kids would have something to do, and during the summer they would take the church kids to the beach, he said. Hutchison's family also donated land for the Old Fellowship Baptist Church pastorium.

She managed the family farm, worked at the Stilson Post Office and was later was transferred to the Statesboro Post Office, where she was the first female employee. She has been a volunteer docent for the Averitt Center for the Arts and served as a pink lady at East Georgia Regional Medical Center for more than 18 years. She is an active member of the Friendship Club, Homemakers Club, and enjoys playing canasta.

Nan Rushing

"For decades, a special lady has been a bright spot in many lives through her involvement in church and education," Yawn said of Nan Rushing. "Her generosity and kindness led others to nominate her for the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award in 2003. She has long been a role model and mentor, offering help and wisdom through a positive Christian influence."

A school teacher for more than 37 years, Rushing wrote countless recommendations for students applying for scholarships and college admissions.

"One single mother with no GED or diploma who wanted to better herself received such a glowing recommendation from this woman, she was admitted to Georgia Southern University," Yawn said. "She graduated with honors in the nursing field and continued her education to obtain a doctorate."

Rushing taught Sunday school at Union Baptist Church for 62 years and has been the church pianist since 1980. She served as the church clerk after her husband's health forced his retirement from the position, and she has written minutes for church meetings for more than 50 years.

She served as vacation Bible School director for 10 years, women's ministry director for several years and served as Women's Missionary Union director for the Ogeechee River Baptist Association as well as helping raise funds for construction of a cabin at the W.W. Mann Retreat Center in Brooklet, and served on the planning committee when the center was being formed.

She has been involved in many local and state homemakers organizations. In her spare time, she devotedly visits the sick, shut-ins and the elderly to offer Christian encouragement and comfort. Rushing sends hundreds of greetings each year through a card ministry and volunteers at the Christian Social Ministries thrift store, which raises funds to purchase items for a local food pantry, Yawn said.

She also donates on a regular basis to Safe Haven women's shelter and Goodwill, as well as Special Olympics and the Statesboro Food Bank. She is a past member of the Home Demonstration Club and cared for her disabled husband 2½ years until his death.

Rushing's "most notable accomplishment, however, was her inspiration to hundreds of students who entered the ‘Nan Rushing Write Off' competition, now in its 29th year. She obtained a grant from Bulloch County in 1985 to begin the competition and still attends the awards ceremonies," Yawn said.

Nancy Stubbs Waters

Yawn described Nancy Stubbs Waters as having a "... loving nature, compassion for others and a desire to help end suffering" who has "devoted many years to helping those suffering from alcoholism and addiction."

An Emory University School of Nursing graduate, Waters spent countless hours caring for people in their homes, assisting with securing counseling and rehabilitation services.

"She is known for her help in medical emergencies in her neighborhood by giving advice regarding where to seek proper treatment for even the most simple wound," Yawn said. "She has volunteered with Meals on Wheels and can often be found escorting friends to appointments, including surgery. She stays with them through the ordeal and then takes them home, where she offers further assistance."

A 1989 Deen Day Service to Mankind Award recipient, she served on the Safe Haven board of directors and was secretary for 15 years. Rushing is a charter member, past president and fundraising chair for Altrusa Statesboro, and was named twice as the club's Citizen of the Year. She served on the Medical Mission team, led by Dr. Randy Smith, traveling to Haiti, Panama and the Dominican Republic, for 15 years.

An Alcohol Control Board member and retired from Pineland Mental Health/Mental Retardation/Substance Abuse Center, Waters helped start Cornerstone Church with her late husband, Robert, and their family. Nancy is also politically involved in efforts to preserve Statesboro neighborhoods. She meets weekly with others to lead Bible study, served as secretary for the Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council for 35 years and wrote grants, as well as helped with the Red Ribbon anti-drug abuse campaign.

"Her passion for helping families through the illness of addiction has made its mark on the community," Yawn said.

Charles Sikes

Yawn said Charles Sikes's colleagues say he "is a man of high caliber whose wholesome values and faith in God have guided him to be a compassionate, yet strong leader in our community.

"The Vietnam veteran joined the Army, then the National Guard. He was a Department of Defense contractor who trained and assisted law enforcement officers in Iraq and Afghanistan," Yawn said. "A former president of the Georgia Peace Officers Association, one colleague called this man a ‘true servant leader.'"

The Metter native earned degrees at Georgia Military College, then became an Army officer serving two years active duty before spending 26 years in the National Guard. Sikes is an alumnus of Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, the FBI National Academy, and the U.S. Army Command and Staff College, Yawn said.

"Sikes spent 30 years with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 10 of those years as special agent-in-charge of the Statesboro GBI office," Yawn said. "Also during that time, he served as venue commander for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

"His GBI co-workers say Sikes was always taking less experienced agents under his wing, mentoring them and offering sage advice about both work-related and other issues," Yawn said. "One woman said he was ‘always there for us,' and recalls his dedication to the GBI by ‘often voluntarily worked nights and weekends to get the job done right.'

"His record of honesty and integrity moved Bulloch County leaders to seek his assistance during and after an internal investigation at the county clerk's office, and Sikes agreed to serve as interim clerk of courts, helping reorganize and staff the office," Yawn continued. "He also spent three years managing the county probation office."

A former Deen Day Service to Mankind Award recipient, Sikes was honored earlier this year as the 2014 Rotary Citizen of the Year.

Lannie Denmark Lee Sr.

Generations of Bulloch County farmers and agriculture students have benefitted from the genuine love for people, community and farming shown by Lannie Lee, Yawn said.

"He is old school and doesn't own a computer, but everything he needs to remember, he records in a little black book he keeps in his pocket," Yawn said. "He toured Europe during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps Eight Air Force, but returned home to Bulloch County to pursue his love of farming."

Lee is a "... walking encyclopedia of Bulloch County history and can tell you all about running a farm," Yawn continued. "He has raised traditional row crops, sugar cane and even grew a field of gladiolas once, shipping 40 dozen a day to New York."

Lee's agricultural expertise resulted in his appearance in educational videos on YouTube - two by "Georgia Farm Monitor" and one by a Savannah television station.

Lee "taught outdoor classes in farming techniques to Ogeechee Technical College and local elementary students for years, and would often visit their homes, encouraging 4-H and FFA students to pursue careers in the agricultural field," Yawn said. "Young and older alike, many citizens have learned a great deal about making cane syrup from Lee, who is an expert on cane syrup and sells it locally under his own label, Lee's Syrup. He built his own syrup house and, at age 94, still works on his farm, as well as holds cane grindings at his home place, where he gives tours."

Lee is a former Bulloch County Farm Bureau officer, serving as past vice president and as president for the past seven years. Through his service, he helped provide scholarships to agribusiness students. He has attended 42 national and 60 state Farm Bureau conventions,

The member of Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church has been a member of the Brooklet Kiwanis Club since 1992 and served as a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10825.

Lee's dedication to helping others pursue dreams in agriculture, as well as his strong family values, led to the Lee family being named the Bulloch County Farm Family of the Year in 2010.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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