Buckingham Duo Honored

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, January 31, 2013

BUCKINGHAM – On January 21, continuing with a decade-long tradition, the Buckingham Chamber of Commerce honored two deserving Buckingham residents for their service to this community.

Prior to the presentations, Faye Shumaker offered a brief overview of the chamber's awards program.

“In 2002, the chamber recognized its first Volunteer of the Year-Wallace Shumaker,” she shared. “Two years later we began the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

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Continuing, Shumaker stated, “Since that time we have honored some very deserving Buckingham residents-Allen Gooden, Shelton Foster, Mike Edwards, Charles White, Donnie Davis, Helen Saxon, Jimmy Strong, John and Dot Morgan, and Kerry Flippen, to mention a few of the past recipients.”

Shumaker told the audience, “Tonight we are pleased to add two more names to our list of Buckamites who continually go above and beyond to support their community.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

The honor of being this year's recipient of the chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Jimmy Dunn, regarded by many as the Pastor of Buckingham.

A long-time friend and former parishioner, Gwynn Tyler, shared his nomination letter with the audience.

As in years past, the recipients are usually unaware of their award until the announcement is made during the banquet.

Tyler began with Dunn's familiar greeting, “Hey, how you doing?” He shared, “The first time I heard those words was back in 1977.” Reminiscing, he told how on a Saturday afternoon, shortly after he and his wife Phyllis moved to Buckingham, there was a knock at the door. When Tyler opened it, a young man delivered that salutation and then introduced himself.

Tyler explained that Dunn, who at that time was pastor of Maysville Baptist Church, was out visiting and stopped by to introduce himself and invite the young couple to church. After the personal and personable invitation, Tyler said they “checked-out” the church and became members.

“It didn't take long to realize that Jimmy was a caring pastor, sincere in his faith, faithful to his family, and someone who had a heart for missions,” stated Tyler.

“When I think of Jimmy Dunn, I think of visitation and missions,” he said, explaining that Dunn's visitation extended well beyond the pastoral care he showered on his congregations and their friends and families.

“He visited and continues to visit the sick and bereaved. And he ministers to those who are hurting in other ways,” added Tyler.

“Jimmy is often seen out in the community supporting young people at ball games, or participating in fund raising events,” offered Tyler. “Jimmy is just one of those folks who likes to be with people.”

Tyler continued, “Over his many years of ministry, Jimmy has had a positive influence on people in his churches and community. Whether it was in Halifax County or Drakes Branch, Buckingham or the Northern Neck, people love and respect Jimmy as a minister who genuinely cares about them.”

Talking about Dunn's love for mission work, Tyler shared how Dunn not only taught about missionaries and promoted mission work in the community and beyond but also participated in mission projects “both here and abroad.”

He shared how Dunn, leading young boys and teaching them about missions, would take them out into the community to help the elderly and others who needed assistance with yard work and similar chores.

“He taught them about working together to help others while learning about the things of God,” stated Tyler, adding that they also learned about the importance and rewards of Christian fellowship.

“One of those boys went on to be a college professor, one a pastor and others have become successful businessmen.” He added, “I am confident that Jimmy's influence played an important role in their lives.”

Tyler shared, “For the past 30 years, Jimmy's enthusiasm helped to spark mission teams and individuals from the James River Baptist Association to go and participate in mission projects from Boston, Massachusetts to Slidell Mississippi, to Mexico, to Panama, to Argentina, numerous trips to Honduras, to the Indian reservation in South Dakota, and right here in Buckingham County.”

According to Tyler, during those trips team members ministered to those affected by disaster, helped those who were sick, assisted with the construction of over a dozen churches and a medical clinic, and helped meet the needs of the impoverished. He shared, “While these projects were being done, the love of Jesus was being shared.”

While pastor of a church in Northern Neck, Dunn was involved with a Hispanic ministry, explained Tyler. Upon returning to Buckingham, Dunn continues to work with a similar ministry helping Hispanics become better acclimated to this area.

“When you have a vision, a heart for missions, the ability to work with people, the support of your family and your church, along with a strong faith in God, a lot of good things can happen,” offered Tyler.

“Jimmy has all of these things. Over the years, his influence and leadership have resulted in a lot of good work being done both here in the states as well as overseas,” he stated.

Tyler concluded, “Because of his influence and his legacy, it is my privilege to recognize my friend Reverend Jimmy Dunn as the recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award. Thank you Jimmy for all you have done in the past, all you will continue to do, and all that you mean to each of us.”

Dunn told the audience that he thought he came to the dinner because Tyler was being honored.

Chamber member Sandra Moss confessed, “I must say I've been telling little white lies since 2002 to get people to come here and get their award.” She added, “I had my fingers crossed behind my back when I was telling you yours.”

Accepting the award, Dunn shared, “I am deeply honored. I love Buckingham County. I stayed here 20 years and then came back for nine years so I must like it pretty good.” He offered, “Serving in such a great county is a wonderful privilege.”

Acknowledging John Moxley, current pastor of First Baptist Church of Dillwyn, where Dunn served as pastor when he returned to Buckingham, he stated, “And my good buddy John is so kind to let me ride around with him to see the people and preach sometimes and do other things. I've got a great home here.”

Concluding, Dunn reiterated, “Thank-you from the bottom of my heart. This is one of the greatest honors of my nearly 74 years. Thank you so very, very much.”

Volunteer of the Year

George Stish, identifying himself as the Quartermaster of VFW Post 8446 and a member of the Toga Volunteer Fire Department, shared his nomination letter for this year's Volunteer of the Year, Marie Sweeney.

“Marie is a seemingly tireless volunteer in many civic organizations but I'll speak for the selfless devotion and hours that she pours into the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the continuation of our mission.”

Explaining that he has worked with Marie since he joined VFW Post 8446 four years ago, Stish shared, “Marie recruited me for the VFW after a few years of vigilant bulldogging, which is a great segue to my first point of merit.”

He shared that Sweeney is the lead recruiter for the post. “At any given time she carries membership applications in her purse and always has one on-hand,” said Stish. “No matter where it may be, as soon as a veteran identifies themselves, Marie's next question is 'Are you a member of the VFW?' and out comes the membership application.”

Stish shared, “Because of Marie's efforts in this area we have exceeded our membership obligations for the past five years, which is an honor among VFW posts.”

Noting that several years ago, Sweeney became the first female in the history of Post 8446 to serve as its commander, Stish said she declined re-election due to other obligations but remained vigilant to the post as she carried out her other assumed duties.

However, Stish explained, “Due to the untimely parting of our Post Commander, comrade and friend, John Marshall Harris, the position needed to be filled, Marie naturally volunteered in a time of need and was elected, unanimously, post commander once again.”

Explaining Sweeney's efforts in overseeing the rental of the VFW Hall, Stish said she not only takes the reservations but also meets renters at the hall to go over the rules prior to their events and then goes back after each event to inspect the facility and ready it for the next rental.

“Most often this occurs twice a weekend,” said Stish. “She has taken charge of the program and through her efforts has created a truly viable and reliable source of income for the post.” He added, “No other member has ever been so dedicated to this program and its success.”

Stish told the audience, “Every month Marie personally calls each of our 67 members to remind them of our monthly meeting and breakfast.”

During those calls, explained Stish, Sweeney takes the time to talk with each member about their well-being and the well-being of their families. He added, “She regularly visits our members that may be in assisted-living facilities or the hospital.”

Sweeney, said Stish, is a featured speaker at numerous patriotic events such as the annual Memorial Day observance and Fourth of July celebrations. Moreover, she attends JROTC and scouting events, he stated.