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Four Rotarians honored

DEMOPOLIS – Four Demopolis Rotarians have been designated Paul Harris Fellows, among the highest honor the international business club bestows on its members, including one of the youngest adult members to receive the award.

Honored at the club’s meeting Wednesday were James L. “Jimbo” Ward, Drew Johnson, Richard S. Manley and Stephen Gutshall.

Although the organization does not officially track the age of Paul Harris Fellows, Rotary International spokesperson Christine Sobooak said Gutshall would be among the youngest adult members to receive the award. Paul Harris Fellowships have been awarded to children, she said.

Rotary International has more than 1.5 million members in 166 countries.

Jack Kirby, chairman of the Rotary Foundation Committee, presided over the ceremony. Paul Harris Fellowships are bestowed on members contributing at least $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation, or in whose name the money is donated. Many clubs raise funds for the foundation, which provides humanitarian aid, and then select Paul Harris honorees, contributing the funds to the foundation.

“The mission of the Rotary Foundation and its emphasis is much the same today as it was early on,” Kirby said.

One of Rotary’s primary missions has been supporting the eradication of polio.

“The world is 90 percent free of polio and Rotary spearheaded that effort. Some countries do not participate fully, but our goal is to be 100 percent polio free by 2005,” he said.

Turning the attention toward the honorees, Kirby said the four honored by the club this year were representative to Rotary’s motto, “Service above Self.”

“There have been 73 Paul Harris Fellows in the Demopolis club and today we’re going to honor four more individuals,” he said.

Honored for both their past service, and “the service they’ll provide in the future,” were:

Stephen Gutshall, a New Market native and a 1996 graduate of the University of Alabama, is active in the First United Methodist Church, Demopolis Chamber of Commerce, and serves in a number of capacities for several other organizations including treasurer of the county’s Habitat for Humanity organization. Secretary for the Demopolis Rotary Club, Gutshall was instrumental in the club’s receipt of a Rotary International Humanitarian Grant.

“I don’t do anything I do without the support of my friends and, especially, my family,” he said. “To give me credit (for involvement), I just can share only a small token with the others who help me.”

Drew Johnson, a retired chemical engineer with Gulf States

Paper Corp., is a Dallas, Texas native. A veteran of World War II, he has been chairman of the Merengo County Department of Human Services, served on the Demopolis City School Foundation board and the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital board of directors. He is a deacon at First Baptist Church.

“If helping your fellow man is a prerequisite, then Drew is certainly deserving,” said Ed Sheppard, who introduced Johnson.

“I thank you. It’s an honor,” Johnson said.

Married for 60 years, Johnson said he and his wife discovered three phases of life.

“We’re in the serving phase and want to continue to serve as long as the Lord lets us,” he said.

Demopolis native Jimbo Ward, currently serving as the club’s president, is widely known as “The Voice of the Fighting Tigers,” for announcing Demopolis High School football games on the radio for 11 years. A Rotarian since 1992, Ward has held a variety of positions within the organization, and was termed a “great ambassador for Demopolis” by Mike Grayson, who presented the fellowship.

Richard S. Manley, a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel, has served as city attorney for Demopolis since 1976, and served in the Alabama House of Representatives for 17 years, serving one term as speaker pro-tem. He served one term in the State Senate. He is a past president of the Jaycees, the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce, the Demopolis Country Club the University of Alabama’s Merango County Alumni Association. He has also served on the board of directors for Alabama’s National Alumni Association. He was presented the award in absentia due to a scheduling conflict. The fellowship was accepted by his law partner Billy Treager, III.

The Paul Harris Fellow is named for one of Rotary’s four founders. The club was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Ill.

Anyone who contributes – or in whose name is contributed – a gift of US$1,000 or more to the Annual Programs Fund may become a Paul Harris Fellow. Each new Paul Harris Fellow receives a commemorative certificate, a Paul Harris Fellow pin, and a medallion. Donors are eligible for Paul Harris Fellow recognition when their cumulative giving reaches US$1,000.

For additional gifts totaling US$1,000 or more, a Paul Harris Fellow:

*is recognized as a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow

*may also choose to honor someone else as a Paul Harris Fellow with their Foundation Recognition Points, formerly called “available credit”

*is eligible to receive a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow pin with additional stones.