A legacy of leadership

Published 8:58 am Monday, April 1, 2013

As I sat through Thursday night’s annual meeting of the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, I was reminded of a comment that was made to me at some point in the last several months. As I was passing along some information to a colleague about an event the Chamber was sponsoring, this particular individual informed me that the only reason I wanted to see the story published in the paper was because I am a cheerleader for the Chamber.

“You know what,” I said? “You’re damn right I am.”

And as I sat through this year’s annual meeting, which is a celebration of all that the Chamber has accomplished in the last twelve months and what it plans to accomplish in the next, I was reminded of why.

The Chamber, in almost every community, is an organization whole sole purpose for existing is to promote, support and grow the local business community.

In Franklin and Southampton County, the Chamber, which is lead by an incredibly dedicated staff and board of directors of which I am proud to be a part, does that exceptionally well. There have always been a number of benefits to being a Chamber member, and in recent years those benefits have become even greater.

But that’s not the primary reason I’m such an unabashed cheerleader for the Chamber.

It’s because, in Franklin and Southampton County, the Chamber has been a place where the true leaders of our community have always made it a point to serve and make a difference for our local businesses. In short, what makes our Chamber special is leadership.

And it is even more special when you consider the individuals, starting from the Chamber’s first year in 1954, which have lead and served this organization as its president:

Going back to the first leader of this organization, Sol Rawls, who has contributed to the wellbeing of this community in every way possible, through the Chamber’s newest president who was just handed the gavel on Thursday night, Bobby Cutchins, this list reads like a who’s who of Franklin and Southampton County’s most dedicated public servants.

It is precisely because of who is on this list, as well as the countless others who have served as board members, executive directors and staff, that the Chamber has remained the vibrant and effective organization it is today. Leadership and serving the community has always been, and I suspect will continue to be, the Chamber’s driving force.

It is an organization I am proud to be a part of, and one whose work has made a meaningful and lasting impact on our community.

Sol W. Rawls, Jr. 1954-1956
William S. Peebles, III 1957
Wilbur E. Becker 1958-1959
Robert C. Ray 1960-1961
William M. Camp, Sr. 1962
A. Woodrow Livesay 1963-1964
R. Ashby Rawls 1965
Thomas E. Powers 1966
William H. Goodwin 1967
Broun C. Dameron 1968
Horace L. Pierce, Jr. 1969
Michael F. Moorman 1970
Joseph W. Pope, Jr. 1971
Floyd Diephus 1972
H. Doyle Jones 1973
George H. Hedgepeth 1974
J. Edward Moyler, Jr. 1975
Russell S. Gayle, Jr. 1976
Norris R. Bly 1977-1978
Perry R. Adams 1979
Charles B. Settle 1980
Richard L. Drescher 1981
E. Warren Beale, Jr. 1982
J. Mitchell Sandlin 1983
Howard N. Soucek 1984
Harvey B. McLemore III 1985
Michael B. McCall 1986
John A. Murray, MD 1987
Benjamin P. Ivey 1988
J. Wilson Seward 1989
John H. Lee, III 1990
Alfred R. Butler, IV 1991
Lynne H. Rabil 1992
Kyle R. Purvis, Jr. 1993-1994
Ronald K. Wilmot 1995-1996
James E. Rainey 1997
Dr. Patsy R. Joyner 1998
Jeffrey D. Thompson 1999-2000
C.B. Moore 2001-2002
Harriet Bain Duck 2003
Peter E. Clark 2004
Vernie W. Francis, Jr. 2005
R. Randolph Cook 2006
Mary L. Lilley 2007
Lauren P. Harper 2008
Clyde E. Parker 2009
Daniel K. Hoctor 2010
Kevin S. Sutton 2011
Michael E. Clark 2012
Robert L. Cutchins 2013

TONY CLARK is the associate publisher of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at tony.clark@tidewaternews.com.