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The man behind the scenes
Kiwanis Fair Pancake House leader haunted by 'Elvis'
102210 FAIR WHALEY 01
Don Whaley swaps family stories with volunteer Debra Alexander in the Kiwanis pancake kitchen Friday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    During ‘fair week,” one can always find Statesboro Kiwanis Club member Don Whaley in the club’s pancake house.
    He starts his job weeks before the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair arrives, reminding club members to sign up to volunteer by flipping pancakes, frying sausage, mixing batter and serving the hungry public. He is there every night, making sure the crowd that flocks to the Pancake House gets their fill of fluffy golden pancakes and fresh link sausage, and works as hard as anyone.
    Just don’t ever mention the word “Elvis.” It’s a touchy subject that has turned into an ongoing joke – one year an Elvis impersonator had Whaley’s female volunteers swooning instead of flipping pancakes.  Every year when the fair rolls around, fellow clubmembers delight in gifting Whaley with Elvis memorabilia and once even placed a life-sized cardboard  cut-out of the King inside the Pancake House kitchen.
    Whaley’s dedication to the Pancake House is one reason why he was chosen as the Kiwanis member to whom the 2010 “Fair Book” is dedicated.
    The Fair Book is a complete guide to the annual fair. It lists events, times, rules for competitions and exhibit entries, and numbers of club members in charge of certain committees and projects. It is also filled with advertisements form local businesses and individuals.
    But the front page is always dedicated to a deserving club member.
    “This is a person who has committed themselves to the Kiwanis tradition of service to the community,” reads a portion of the entry in the Fair Book.
    At age 70, Whaley is a fixture in the club. A long-time resident of Statesboro, he is married to Janice Powell Whaley, and has two living adult daughters (Karen, Atlanta, and Donna, Canada) and lost son Ken many years ago to melanoma.
    Whaley enjoys hunting and fishing, likes to garden, and is a member of Statesboro’s First Baptist church.
    He serves on the Statesboro Kiwanis Long Range Planning Committee, and has served on the club’s board of directors for several terms. In 995, he was named Kiwanian of the Year, served as fair chairman in 1999 and 200, and has for many years been the chief “flipper” when managing the club’s Pancake House.
    Whaley was humble when asked about the honor of being chosen as the 2010 Fair Book honoree, declining to comment at length, but expressed his thanks and love for the Statesboro Kiwanis Club and its membership.
    During a club meeting this week, where fellow members presented him with an Elvis traveling case, Whaley laughed along with the others in spite of being harangued incessantly about the Elvis impersonator’s “stealing” his pancake workers in the past.
    He further urged club members to take their turns at the griddle for the rest of the week. “This is the most fun place on the grounds,” he said.

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

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