02/03/08 — Maxwell honored by BSA

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Maxwell honored by BSA

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 3, 2008 2:34 AM

Thomas Yarboro kept his secret well.

His grandfather, Louis Maxwell, thought he was helping the 17-year-old celebrate his special moment of recognition as part of the 2007 Class of Eagle Scouts Thursday night during the 85th Annual Tuscarora Council Awards Ceremony at Wayne Community College. But during the ceremony, Yarboro presented to his grandfather the Distinguished Eagle medallion and plaque, a national award and Scouting's highest honor.

"I was so surprised. I felt as out of place as a man can feel," Maxwell said. He had been called to the stage by Tuscarora President Bill Bryan to receive the award -- before the bright lights and the crowd of more than 250 people -- not his favorite place to be.

"I don't feel I deserve it, but I appreciate it," he said.

The Distinguished Eagle Award is one very few people have achieved. In the Tuscarora Council's 85-year history, 2,546 Scouts have attained the rank of Eagle. Of those Eagles, only three -- C.W. Peacock, Bill Kemp and Wes Seegars -- have been honored with the Distinguished Eagle.

And Thursday night, Maxwell became the council's fourth to receive that rank.

Because of Maxwell's shyness, Scout officials said the award presentation was going to have to be a surprise.

Yarboro said his grandfather is the most modest man he has ever met.

"He's a hard-working man, too," he added.

Bill Bryan agreed, saying Maxwell has spent more than 55 years working hard, preparing, innovating and inspiring teamwork to marshal his family's business, Goldsboro Milling Co., into new arenas and to bolster the companies he leads to the status of leaders in the poultry and pork industry.

"Today his companies employ over 7,000 associates and include the world's largest and best known brand of turkey -- Butterball," Bryan said.

The Distinguished Eagle Award goes to a person who attained the Eagle rank while a Scout and has since given distinguished service in his profession and community for a period of at least 25 years.

But Bryan said Maxwell has far exceeded the national criteria set for the honor of becoming a Distinguished Eagle.

You would never hear it from Maxwell, though.

"As expected, Mr. Maxwell was reluctant for the Tuscarora Council to publicly recognize his selection by our national organization," Bryan said. "His willingness to do so -- in spite of his personal sense of modesty -- is another act of service to our organization and our community. His lengthy record of accomplishment is a fine example for all Eagle Scouts, brand new like these young men (the 2007 Eagles) or older like myself, to always continue to strive for a life of service."

The members of the 2007 Eagle Class received their introduction from Tuscarora commissioner Billy Byrd. Eagle Scouts are rare and valuable in today's society, Byrd said. Only 5 percent of all Boy Scouts ever attain the rank, and the Eagle Class of 2007 has 65 members. Tuscarora has more Eagle Scouts, he said, than some councils twice its size.

"These are the young men who have committed themselves to being the very best they can be," Byrd said. "They are young men who exemplify service and responsibility. They are leaders, both in their youth and in their adulthood."

In addition to the Eagle Scouts and Maxwell, the Council also honored three Silver Beavers -- the highest honor a local council can bestow upon its volunteers.

Southern Region Boy Scout Vice President Tom Turnage said the Silver Beaver goes to outstanding volunteers who are nominated by their peers. A volunteer committee, made up of Silver Beaver recipients, reviews the nominations and selects the year's winners.

And the 2007 Silver Beaver decision was a difficult one, Turnage said.

"We had many outstanding nominations, and although we feel all the candidates are truly deserving of this honor, national guidelines limit us to only three awards each year," he said.

One Silver Beaver Award went to a volunteer in each of three districts in the Tuscarora Council, the Torhunta, Neusiok and Coharie. The 2007 Silver Beaver Award recipients named Thursday night included William Hardee of Neusiok, Dr. Frank Farrell of Torhunta and Henry Campbell of Coharie.

Hardee is referred to as a "go to guy" in Johnston County's Neusiok District. Hardee was a Boy Scout as a youth and has served Scouting in leadership positions such as assistant scoutmaster with Troop 64, Venture Crew 64 adviser, committee chairman of Troop 210 and a member of the Eagle Review Board.

Farrell is the director of O'Berry Center and has been the scoutmaster for Troop 258 in Rosewood for five years. He was not in Scouts as a boy, but when he became a father, he wanted his son to be involved and has been an active leader ever since with Tigers, Wolves, Bears and Webelos in Wayne County's Torhunta District.

Campbell was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout. He is a member of the Order of the Arrow, has attained the rank of Eagle and is the founder of Troop 51 in the Coharie District, which includes Duplin and Sampson counties. He has been on his district's Eagle Board, Scout Executive Selection Committee and district chairman.