Winners of "The Austin"

  • Curt Campbell

    Orangeburg, South Carolina
    From the T& D: Curt Campbell is not given to self-aggrandizement, choosing instead to serve behind the scenes — doing things for the love of his hometown of Orangeburg.

    Whether he's whipping up pancakes for a fund-raising benefit, picking up trash to beautify neighboring streets, donating blood or cleaning up old, overgrown graveyards, Campbell says making Orangeburg and South Carolina a better place is what his life is about.

    "Each day has its problems which can be turned into opportunities," Campbell said. "Somehow we have gotten into movie stars and athletes being role models but all they are are movie stars and athletes.

    "A lot of times it is the guy next door that goes out and does the community service work, working in a soup kitchen … picking up garbage on the roads. There are many good causes out there. You don't really need to wait to be asked — just show up."

    Campbell's dedication and service to the city and to others was recognized Thursday evening as he became the first recipient of the">Austin Cunningham Award: "The Austin." The award, sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character, was presented at the 2009 Annual Banquet of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce.

    "To emulate somebody like Austin .. is a great goal to shoot for," Campbell said.

    He said while he is humbled by the recognition, the award is more of a testament to Cunningham's service than to his own.

    "Austin was always present. Half of the battle is just showing up," Campbell said.

    The award is presented to someone who exemplifies, promotes and advocates good character and has earned a high level of respect within the community.

    Cunningham had decades of experience in helping shape and improve the lives of others. The Orangeburg resident, who died in January, had been named the local Citizen of the Year and the state's Outstanding Elder Citizen of the Year. He also received many other awards and recognitions.

    Campbell is the son of the late Mike Campbell, a former city treasurer, and Katherine Campbell, a former math teacher and administrative assistant at Wade Hampton Academy. He said his parents played a great part in the development of his and his brother Randy's community pride.

    "My father was a great gentleman and I try to emulate my dad, who was the perfect gentleman," he said. "I got a great work ethic from my mom and my dad."

    Campbell said he also received an appreciation for the value of work serving as a newspaper delivery boy for The Times and Democrat and as a bag boy for Piggly Wiggly during his formative childhood years.

    Also, "I have a lot of good friends that are community-minded that help keep me focused on the right track," Campbell said.

    Campbell works in the sales department of Orangeburg's Coca-Cola Bottling Company. He is a graduate of Wade Hampton Academy and The Citadel.

    He has served as president of the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association, and has supported the Taste of Orangeburg, the Christmas parade and the Rose Festival.

    Campbell has also offered his talents in the restoration of the city's older cemeteries, as well as helping with the Orangeburg Historical Society.

    He has also served as Orangeburg Rotary Club president and works backstage with the Orangeburg Part-Time Players.

    Campbell is an active member of Orangeburg's First Presbyterian Church.

    He is married to Tamra and they have a teenage daughter, Evan.
    By Steven Waldman
  • Michael Salley

    From the T&D: For nearly two decades, Michael Salley Jr., Orangeburg resident and co-founder of Edisto Habitat for Humanity, has made the dream of home ownership come true for many Orangeburg County families.

    Salley was honored as the recipient of the second Austin Cunningham Award ("The Austin") at the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Annual Banquet Thursday night at The Cinema.

    Sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character, "The Austin" is presented to a person who exemplifies, promotes and advocates good character and has earned a high level of respect within the community - like the late businessman and attorney in whose memory it is named. Last year's recipient was Curt Campbell.

    "I am just kind of bowled over," Salley said upon receiving the award. "I am doing just what I enjoy doing."

    Salley, who has dedicated a large portion of his life to civic volunteerism, co-founded Habitat for Humanity in 1989.

    It has not always been easy to construct homes.

    During Habitat for Humanity's first year, it cost $30,000 to construct a house and only about half of the money was available. The remaining portion was secured, and soon homes were being constructed on a regular basis.

    Over the next two years, five more houses were built.

    Some of the homes have background stories. For instance, a home in Bowman was built for the mother of a child with disabilities. Her family lived on the same street in Bowman, but the woman was willing to move to Orangeburg for her Habitat home. In the end, the house was eventually built on the street near her family so they could assist in taking care of her child.

    The first house Salley helped build was for a young married couple whose children were blind.

    "It is just about neighbors helping neighbors," Salley said. He said his inspiration for starting Habitat came from a mission trip he took to Ecuador with St. Andrews United Methodist Church.

    "I got to thinking we have people right at home that need a hand," Salley said.

    Edisto Habitat for Humanity Executive director Jaime Bozardt described Salley as one of the "kindest people I have ever met.

    "Michael is loved and admired by everyone in our organization and that includes, staff, board of directors and habitat families," Bozardt said.

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    "He never tires, never complains, and does it all with a gentle and caring spirit. Many of the families have his phone number and when they have simple repairs, they call him and, of course, he goes on his own, and quietly."

    He says Salley's work is much appreciated by all those who have been served.

    "I often hear about it from the families, not from him," Bozardt said. "He has served on and off the board many times during the last 20 years and even when not on the board, continues to work tirelessly. He is without a doubt why Habitat has done so well in Orangeburg."

    Born in Orangeburg in 1937, Salley and his family moved around in his childhood since his father was in the military. When his father was commissioned to fight in World War II, Salley's family moved in with his mother's parents.

    Following the war, Salley returned to his birthplace, eventually graduating from Orangeburg High School.

    Salley attended Georgia Tech for a time to study engineering, but he decided to take a different path and attended Clemson University to major in forestry.

    After graduation, he served a two-year stint in the Army and then began a career with the S.C. Forestry Commission.

    In 1973, Salley started his own forestry business.

    Since retiring in 1996, he has made his commitment to Habitat a full-time job.

    He has helped build about 50 homes, and for his work he was recognized three years ago with the United Way of the Midlands Community Impact Award.

    Salley also has worked with the Boy Scouts of America and is a long-time member of the Lions Club.

    A member of St. Andrews United Methodist Church, Salley has completed several church missions.

    Salley served as grand marshal of the 2009 Orangeburg County Christmas Parade.
    By Steven Waldman
  • David Coleman

    Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President David Coleman's expression of awe spoke a thousand words as he received the Austin Cunningham Award at Thursday evening's Chamber banquet.

    "Being recognized for character, I guess I will have to behave a little bit better on that," Coleman told the 250 in attendance to some laughter.

    The award is sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative and is given to those who exemplify, promote and advocate good character.

    The award was presented as Coleman prepares to retire after nine years of leading the chamber. Orangeburg resident Ralph Faulling, who was also recognized at the banquet, will assume the presidency on Dec. 1.

    Coleman has served as co-director of the Orangeburg Festival of Roses for nine years, board member of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club, board member of the Lower Savannah Education Business Partnership at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and ex officio member of the Edisto United Way.

    Coleman spent most of his career in education, most recently as superintendent of Orangeburg Consolidated School District Four.

    During the banquet, the 2011 Leadership Orangeburg County class presented the inaugural David L. Coleman Education Scholarship. The scholarship, valued at $500, was given to Lake Marion High School student Keonte Lee.

    "It has been a wonderful evening tonight," Coleman said. "I did not expect any of these things."

    Coleman thanked his wife, Pam, and the Chamber staff, board and members for their support of his service.

    "I have learned a lot working with the Chamber," Coleman said. "One of the things I have learned is that it is hard work. When I first took the job, I thought I would be boss.

    "I did not know I was going to be working like I was. It was rewarding work."

    Orangeburg Mayor Paul Miller and former Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Cathy Hughes discussed Coleman and his service to the Chamber.

    Hughes informed the attendees there was only a short amount of time to recognize Coleman and to bid him a fond farewell.

    "Do you think we can manage that in the short amount of time we have?" Hughes asked.

    "We'll try, but have you ever had a short conversation with David Coleman?" Miller said, to laughter.

    Miller said he first met Coleman about 18 years ago.

    "David throughout the years has just really been a fantastic advocate for Orangeburg," Miller said. "It has been a wonderful journey."

    Hughes, who was chairwoman when Coleman was hired, reflected on how he was the last applicant for the job.

    "The last day that we were taking applications, David Coleman caught me at The T&D saying he had been out of town ... saw the ad and was interested in the position," Hughes said.

    She asked him if he really wanted the job after recently retiring from education.

    Coleman told her, "I have done all the chores around the house, I have lost as much weight as I need to lose and I want something to do."

    From the T&D: The Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors presented Coleman with a framed picture of the Chamber of Commerce building.

    Also, Orangeburg County Development Commission Chairwoman Jeannine Kees thanked Coleman for his support over the years.

    She presented Coleman, a Clemson University graduate, with a Clemson watch.

    "The problem is it did not come in because the engineers at Clemson have not gotten it together," Kees said to more laughter.
    By Steven Waldman
  • Don Tribble

    The fourth annual Austin Cunningham Award (“The Austin”), sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character, was presented to Don Tribble, the retiring executive director of the Community of Character program. The program promotes good character and has earned a high level of respect within the community.

    The 75-year-old Tribble was hired in 2006 and plans to retire Jan. 31, 2013.

    Tribble is the cofounder of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club, has served as chairman of the City of Orangeburg Planning and Zoning Commission and, as a leukemia survivor, works extensively with and was instrumental in beginning Orangeburg’s Relay for Life.
    By Steven Waldman
  • Nancy Ayers

    From the T&D: What women could bring a crowd of nearly 300 to its feet, including family and friends from near and far?

    Nancy Ayers, the recipient of the fifth annual Austin Cunningham Award (“The Austin”), sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character, received a thunderous applause during the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Annual Banquet.

    Chosen by her peers, Ayers was honored on Thursday in the Cinema’s Palmetto Room as a person who exemplifies, promotes and advocates good character and has earned a high level of respect within the community.

    A tearful Ayers recalled a conversation with Cunningham before he died and says she was given a charge.

    “He said Nancy, the Community of Character is scriptural, it’s about the fruits of the spirit, don’t let it die.”

    Committed to unselfish service to the Lord and to others, she was a facilitator at the Regional Medical Center with Character Connectors and spearheaded the community book “Porch Reflections.

    She has served on the board of directors for Aldersgate, which helps provide Christian-based housing for the mentally challenged with special needs.
    By Steven Waldman
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes

    From the T&D: The Rev. Earl Humes and the leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes were the recipients of the sixth annual Austin Cunningham Award (“The Austin”), sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character.

    The award is peer-selected and recognizes a person or organization that exemplifies, promotes and advocates good character and has earned a high level of respect within the community.

    Humes and several of the coaches and their wives were stunned to have received the award.

    “For The Fellowship of Christian Athletes to be associated with the memory of a man like Austin Cunningham, it’s such an honor and a compliment to our ministry, now celebrating our 60th anniversary,” Humes said.

    “They (CFA) have many foot-soldiers on the battlefield daily, impacting the world for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes,” Kristina Thomas, executive director of the Orangeburg County Community of Character, said. “They toil graciously and tirelessly encouraging thousands through their many ministries, instilling the values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.”
    By Steven Waldman
  • Georgia G. Montgomery

    From T&D: Receiving a standing ovation, Georgia Montgomery was both overwhelmed and filled with joy as she received the surprise on her receipt of the Seventh Annual Austin Cunningham Award (“The Austin”). The award is sponsored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character.

    "I had no clue at all," Montgomery said. "I knew Mr. Cunningham and to get this type of award, I feel really humbled by that."

    Montgomery praised the work of Cunningham, describing him as a "community servant."

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    "I always want to improve the quality of life in the community," Montgomery said.

    Through her life, this is just what Montgomery has sought to do.

    A native of Florence, she spent her career teaching across a multitude of cities in the United States before settling in Orangeburg more than 50 years ago.

    She devoted 37 years of her life to educating high school youth in the classroom before becoming superintendent of adult education.

    Montgomery also served as president of the board for the Association of Community Education Scholarship Committee, chair of the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Foundation Board of Directors, and board member for the Association of Rural Educators.

    Montgomery has chaired Edisto Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit Christian ministry that has provided housing for low-income families since its 1991 inception. Montgomery is also known for her generous spirit.

    She also has served the community through the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association, Orangeburg Chapter of the Links, Phi Delta Kappa, Delta Sigma Theta, Jack and Jill of America, the Sunlight Club and Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce.

    Montgomery has also worked on the boards of the Matthew Perry Courthouse Committee and the Inez Tenenbaum Transition/Policy Team focusing on early childhood care and parenting. She was chair of the S.C. Department of Education External Review Team.

    Montgomery is also a board member and trustee for Trinity United Methodist Church, where she has been a member for many years.
    By Steven Waldman