Sunday, November 25, 2018 – Rocky Mount Telegram From Contributed Reports
Twin County Hall of Fame Welcomes New Inductees
Lanny Shuff left, and Sam Toler hold Toler’s portrait during the Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the Rocky Mount Event Center.
The 15th annual Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Banquet was many things this year — not only a celebration of 12 new inductees but a revival meeting, a fashion show, a reunion of friends, family and supporters and a remembering of those gone before us that helped form who we have become — our parents, mentors, coaches, educators and friends.
The banquet was a first at the new, spectacular Rocky Mount Event Center where rooms Edgecombe 1, 2 and 3 can be opened to seat a large gathering. Everyone was appreciative of the chef back in the kitchen preparing food for a small, intimate dinner party of 500 people, who were served a delicious meal of salad, steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, and small cheesecake desserts.
This was a history-making occasion with an audience filled to capacity since the Induction Banquets began and the first catered event in the Event Center. Golden Platter Milton Bulluck, a 2006 inductee, entertained the audience with several signature songs.
Framed portraits honoring the lives, leadership and careers of the class of 2018 Inductees were presented in honor of Dr. Robert and Rev. Carolyn Barbe, Dr. Newsom Pittman Battle and Dr. Margaret White Battle, James Erastus Batts, Dr. Charles Marshall Coats, Janice Beavon Gravely, Janice Bryant Howroyd, Robert ‘Bob’ Melton, Lt. Col. James A. Mercer. Betsy Buckley, and Samuel A. “Sam” Toler. In addition, Kimberly Kyser accepted on behalf of her father, musician Kay Kyser, who was inducted in the class of 2004.
A life of service and leadership with the underpinnings of education, discipline, responsibility, perseverance and strong parenting was the reoccurring theme throughout the inductees’ stories. The acknowledgment that faith, prayer and the church strengthened the lives of these outstanding citizens was evident.
No one in attendance will soon forget the quiet, sweet voice of inductee Janice Bryant Howroyd when accepting her award while singing the hymn her mother taught her: “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. I know his eye is on the sparrow, I know he watches over me.”
At the end of the evening, there was a collaborative sigh of thanksgiving for the inductees, the success of the occasion and the amazing guests. There was even a shout from within the Event Center: “We Did it!”
They certainly did.
SFH with an additional Comment: When I went off to the University of Kentucky, I intended to major in Journalism, but my Freshman Advisor was the head of the Sociology Department and one thing led to another. The closest I got to0 that original dream was selling advertising for a weekly newspaper called The Country Gentleman in Crestwood Ky. When Lanny Shuff asked me to write this piece for the Telegram it brought a smile. You know the expression having your day in court, well, I had my day writing for a newspaper. It was fun.
Did you ever play the game ‘dinner party’ where you named your guest list from famous people? I always thought it revealed interesting things about my friends as they named their list. I dare say you will know more about me if I tell you I would invite – Coach K, Roger Federer, Amos Townes the author of A Gentleman in Moscow, Newt Gingrich, English gardener and writer, Beverley Nichols, singer Michael Boule, and Senator, Susan Collins, who recently gave an historic speech on the floor of the Senate.
You are invited and have a wonderful opportunity to have dinner with the class of 2018 inductees for the Twin County Hall of Fame. This year’s class includes an author and painter, an educator, the ‘King of ‘Barbecue, two groundbreaking female business owners, two married couples of medical doctors, a veterinarian, a 30-year Little League Coach, and a military and public safety officer. The inductees come from both Edgecombe and Nash Counties. Six are living and six will be inducted posthumously.
Dr. Robert Barbe and Rev. Carolyn Barbe
Dr. Newsom Pittman Battle and Dr. Margaret White Battle
James Erastus Batts
Dr. Charles Marshall Coats
Janice Beavon Gravely
Janice Bryant Howroyd
Lt. Col. James Mercer, US Army (Ret.)
Robert “Bob” Melton
Betsy B. Strandberg
Samuel A. Toler
The event is being held at the new Rocky Mount Event Center, which is an amazing venue for a wonderful occasion like this. We are among the first guests and I guarantee you will be wowed by this new public building. Come and honor those who lived their lives making a difference in the community and thank those who are still with us for their leadership today. Your ticket not only helps pay for your dinner but acts as a fundraiser, a much-appreciated contribution towards the framed portraits that are given to the inductees and a fund that one day will help purchase a permanent space for the Twin County Hall of Fame. Your support for this annual event is appreciated! Looking forward to seeing you there.
5:30 p.m. Registration and Social, 6:15 p.m. Dinner, 7:00 p.m. Program
YOU CAN PAY BY MAIL OR ONLINE
How long has it been since you’ve thought about Johnny Gruelle’s famous Raggedy Ann & Andy stories? Visiting the Twin County Hall of Fame Museum with Jane Gravely and Lanny Shuff, I wasn’t fooled for a minute. The framed smiling faces of the Inductees were quiet as I gazed at them, but at the end of the day, when the lights are turned off and the last person’s footsteps fade away, you will never convince me otherwise, the Museum Dance begins. Gathered in one place are the most interesting, highly respected, gifted and civic-minded citizens of Nash & Edgecombe Counties. Wouldn’t you love to listen to the nightly reminiscences of the times in which they lived and greatly influenced? Here are the history makers, the businessmen, and woman, sports figures, the musicians — imagine the music! Think of the educators and the political debates. Think of the privileged living members of The Hall of Fame, allowed to draw from the wisdom and advice of those who have gone before. Can you think of any company you keep more prestigious than these wonderful people?
You MUST visit The Twin County Museum and Hall of Fame to mingle with these amazing people. The Museum is currently located on the first floor of the historic train station in downtown Rocky Mount. Its purpose is to preserve the history of the Twin Counties and recognize and honor the citizens of Edgecombe and Nash Counties. Those who have made broad and lasting contributions to the betterment of the community or who have brought recognition to the community through their accomplishments. When you visit, don’t expect to hear this august group talking, that only happens after the lights go out.
Raggedy Andy did not speak all day, but he smiled pleasantly to all the other dolls. There was Raggedy Ann, the French doll, the little Dutch doll, the tin soldier, Uncle Clem and a few others…Marcella had played in the nursery all day and of course, they did not speak in front of her…But as soon as she left the room all the dolls sat up in their beds. When their little mistress’ footsteps passed out of hearing, all the dollies jumped out of their beds and gathered around Raggedy Andy…The Dutch doll dragged the little square music box out into the center of the room and wound it up. Then all, holding hands, danced in a circle around it, laughing and shouting in their tiny doll voices.