Years of dedication, compassion and service to others were noted Tuesday night as four Bulloch County citizens received recognition for lifetime achievement.
Julian Deal, Lee Johnson, Jean Mathews and Jean Lanier all received the Lifetime Achievement Award during Tuesday night’s 19th Annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards gala held at Georgia Southern University’s Russell Union.
The Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards banquet, hosted by the Statesboro Herald and other sponsors, honors those who serve with compassion and dedication without expectation of compensation, said Statesboro Herald President Joe McGlamery.
Twenty area citizens received recognition for community service in addition to the four Lifetime Achievement honorees and the 2007 Humanitarian of the Year, Kathryn Grube.
Attendants hung medals around the recipients’ necks and presented them with plaques as they were photographed against a butterfly background.
Deen Day Smith Sanders, a renowned humanitarian whose late husband Cecil B. Day founded Days Inn, loves butterflies and established a butterfly garden at Callaway Gardens. The awards celebration was named in her honor, and the butterfly theme is carried through decorations, gifts, and through the meal with butterfly croissants, butterfly mints and other touches.
James Eli Hodges, president of BB&T, presented the Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Julian Deal “has worked quietly ... and shows his love for his community .. and is a tireless volunteer,” Hodges said. “He has received the Deen Day Smith and Business Leader of the Year Award.”
Hodges listed a profusion of organizations in which Deal has worked and volunteered, including Bethany Homes and Bethany Assisted Living organizations, Ogeechee Technical College Foundation board of directors member, Statesboro Rotary Club, Bulloch County Historical Society and the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce.
He served on the Bulloch County Board of Education for eight years, holding several offices; as president of the Bulloch County Public School Foundation, as a member of the Bulloch County Vocational Education Advisory Committee, and is a current member of the Statesboro High School Quarterback Club in which he once held office as president, and as secretary/treasurer.
Hodges said the certified public accountant is a member of Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church member, board member and finance committee chairman. Deal has volunteered and served in a number of other organizations and groups and is the recipient of a variety of awards and recognitions.
“Julian Deal has led in every organization he serves because he simply enjoys doing for others,” he said.
“Martin Luther King said everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” Hodges said as he introduced Lee Johnson. “A man who enjoys sharing the fruits of his labors ... this honoree is a spiritual individual.
Johnson, owner of Statesboro Janitorial, is known for his generosity, he said.
“If someone needs help, he gives it. If someone is hungry, he feeds them. Since age 9, this man has tilled the earth each year and grown a garden filled with vegetables that he shares with the community, especially those in need of a little assistance,” he said. Johnson’s bounty also “finds its way way to the Statesboro Food Bank.”
Hodges said Johnson “dedicates his time to running errands for persons who are ill or disabled, or taking them on outings to conduct business or for enjoyment when they cannot drive themselves.
“He performs household chores and minor tasks for those unable to do so. Any little thing he can do to help, this man offers his time and effort to others with no expectation of compensation.
A man who enjoys keeping things in order, he has been known to pick up litter along the roadways in order to make Statesboro and Bulloch County a prettier and better place.
“Tonight, we proudly honor you, Lee, for your lifetime of compassion and community service.”
Hodges praised Jean Lanier’s lifetime of dedication to helping others through involvement in the f Statesboro’s First Baptist Church senior adult program, which she created and then served as coordinator for over 20 years.
Lanier “ often took a homemade egg custard to those who were ill to make them feel better,” he said. “She organized monthly “Young at Heart” luncheons for seniors, and reached out to those in need of a bit of special attention.
“ Day trips were a delight for local seniors who enjoyed the outings organized by this energetic woman,” he said. “Over 550 seniors across the community have benefited from her dedication and service as she planned activities filled with fun and excitement.
Hodges said “Friends and coworkers say this lady always goes beyond the call of duty to help others, having spent much of her lifetime making those around her smile.”
Praising Lanier for her tireless service and volunteerism, which includes helping in other areas at church through other programs and helping others in the community, Hodges presented Lanier, who is a previous recipient of the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award, with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hodges said Jean Mathews “ has been a jewel in Bulloch County’s crown for many years.
“This charming lady is one of Statesboro’s own, having grown up on North Main Street ... has a legendary green thumb and is known for her interest in camellias. “
Mathews worked tirelessly to help with the design of the current Statesboro Regional Library, and served for several years on the library board as well .
“This precious lady is a member of the Spade and Trowel Garden Club, was involved in the publication of that organization’s gardening book and was involved in the group that donated the beautiful fountain at First Baptist Church,” he said.
“Keeping the community beautiful is a reflection of her love for gardening and the outdoors, and she still serves on the Statesboro Beautification Commission to work towards making our environment as pleasant as possible.”
Hodges said “Jean Mathews is always smiling, ever gracious .. one of Georgia’s steel magnolias. Many will tell you there is no stopping her once she gets going.”
These four honorees have gone above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the definition of volunteerism “not for a year or a decade, but rather for an era, and we thank them,” he said.