Quiet achiever: Cornerstone Award winner doesn't seek spotlight
By Anessa Myers
Published in News on January 14, 2009 1:46 PM
Bill Bryan reacts as he is named the winner of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's Cornerstone Award at a banquet Tuesday night at the Walnut Creek Country Club. Bryan, the president of Mt. Olive Pickle Co., joins an elite group of people honored for their contributions to the community.
Mt. Olive Pickle Co. President Bill Bryan wasn't quite sure Tuesday what the day would hold, but he started to get a sense that something was going on around mid-morning.
"I had a meeting scheduled for this afternoon that was moved," he said. "And other small things started happening."
Bryan didn't know at the time that he would receive the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's prestigious Cornerstone Award, an honor presented to men and women who have spent their life making Wayne County a better place through community service.
In fact, Bryan thought that he was going to the chamber's annual award ceremony at the Walnut Creek Country Club to support a friend.
"They pushed me to come for Branny Vickory, for him winning the award," he said afterward.
It wasn't until Vickory stood up to introduce this year's winner, Bryan said, that he figured out what was going on.
"Then, the jig was up," he said.
Vickory told the gathering of more than 200 people about his friend, a man who, as a preschooler, tried to paint his tricycle in the family living room on white carpet.
"The family's housekeeper discovered it first, which is where providence comes in. It's a sure bet that had Bill's mother found it first, we wouldn't be honoring him today because she'd have killed him right then," Vickory said.
And he described how, when the two travel together, Bryan steps off of a plane -- checked bag in hand -- and then goes straight to the reservation desk to see if there is an earlier flight home.
"Traveling companions describe running through airports to keep up, and if you aren't sharp, Bill will be on the earlier flight home without you," Vickory joked.
But Vickory then got down to the long list of Bryan's community accomplishments: president and director of the Tuscarora Council of Boy Scouts of America, board member of the Mount Olive College Foundation, board member of the Southern Bank Foundation and board member of the Global TransPark Foundation in Kinston.
And that's not all. Bryan has served on many other boards such as the Wayne Memorial Hospital board, the Salvation Army board, Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Wayne County, the Goldsboro-Wayne Crime Stoppers, the Foundation of Wayne Community College and the Mount Olive Committee of 100.
He is also a former trustee of Mount Olive College and serves on the boards of the North Carolina Center for International Understanding and the North Carolina Aquarium Society.
Still, Bryan does more -- he helps others in the community through his company.
"Bill leads Mt. Olive Pickle in a manner that also remains true to the company's community roots even as it strives for -- and reaches -- national dominance in the marketplace," Vickory said. "Each year the company contributes several hundred thousand dollars in cash and product donations to local and regional organizations and civic groups. And, it offers the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of its employees to make this community stronger."
Even when Bryan took the podium, he didn't focus on himself.
"I have had the opportunity to live and work in Wayne County all my life," he said. "It's a great place to live. ... I know some of the people who have received this award, and it's a great honor to be included with them."
He said he couldn't have done the things he has without the help of the employees of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. and his family.
"I remember my father when I was growing up who set a great example of trying to be a good citizen, and the responsibilities that come with that," Bryan said. "Wayne County is a good place to work and raise a family."
The Cornerstone Award was created in 1996 to recognize those that are dedicated to Wayne County.
Former winners of the Cornerstone Award include Richard B. Moffatt, Hal H. Tanner Sr., Clarence W. "Icky" Peacock, William A. Dees Jr., Hal K. Plonk, Bertha Shepherd Wooten, Ollie Toomey, Troy W. Pate Jr., Jimmie Edmundson, Bill Kemp Jr., Dr. Edward Wilson and David Weil.
At the ceremony, two more chamber members were recognized.
Trisha Lewis of Lewis Insurance Group received the Ambassador Rookie of the Year Award and Gretchen Reed of Doubletree Personnel received the Ambassador of the Year Award.
The chamber's 2009 board members were also recognized, including Chairman Terry Jordan, 2010 Chairman-elect and Vice Chairman Julie Daniels, Treasurer Tom Bradshaw, Sharon Davenport, Jane Rustin, Fletcher Bizzell, Dave Quick, Michael Gooden, John Chance, Don Magoon, Kevin Woodard, Georgia Dees, Dr. Ken Benton, Al Grisette, Al King, Bud Gray, Ben Seegars, Dr. Steve Taylor, Grant Webber, Keith Westbrook, Beverly Carroll, JoAnne Tillman, John Richards, Tom Buffkin, Dr. Kay Albertson and Rick Sumner.
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