01/27/12 — Well-deserved: Chamber's Cornerstone Award pick has a distinguished resume

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Well-deserved: Chamber's Cornerstone Award pick has a distinguished resume

How do you know if you have picked the right person for the 2012 Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's Cornerstone Award?

First off, it is hard as heck to get the honoree there. You have to make up a story, pull teeth and promise anything to get him to put on fancy clothes and head out for the evening -- especially when the Tar Heels are on TV.

Second, you have no trouble finding people to say nice things about him -- and many more who say his service to the community changed their lives or careers.

And lastly, when you get him up to the podium, he cannot figure out why he was chosen for such a prestigious honor and starts listing off all the people who really deserve the credit.

And that is exactly what happened when the Chamber decided to give the award to accomplished businessman and dedicated community volunteer Ed Borden.

The only difference was, he was the only one in the room who did not know exactly why he was such an obvious choice for an award that honors someone whose contributions have been pivotal to his community.

Fresh off the completion of a project to honor Wayne County's fallen heroes, the new Wayne Veterans Memorial, Borden has a record of community service that few can rival and has been an instrumental part of many community projects, including the Family YMCA.

From sitting on numerous community boards to doing something as simple as delivering Meals on Wheels, he is an example of what a difference one person can make -- quietly, humbly, but with a persuasiveness and insistence that cannot be deterred.

His friends said a tribute would have to also include the fact that Borden is sharp -- a quick wit with a sense of humor that can hook a potential donor, volunteer, backer in a minute.

They talked about his business accomplishments, which are many, and his dedication to his family and friends.

And in the end, it was clear, that there could be no better pick -- even if the honoree did not think so.

During his acceptance speech, Borden quipped that he should have been given the "Rolling Stone" award -- that he was part of a long gray line of distinguished recipients.

And true, he is a little older now.

But what is more important is that he has left a legacy, big shoes to fill -- for community leaders who will come after him, for his children and his grandchildren. He has forged a path of service and taught many that you can be a successful businessman and still care about the community that helped give you your start.

And that is a model worth emulating.

Even if the recipient, although grateful and humbled, probably would rather have been home watching the Tar Heels.

Published in Editorials on January 27, 2012 10:32 AM