Note: This article incorrectly spelled the name of the woman who won Entrepreneur of the Year. Her name is LaTanya Johnson, not Latonya Jackson. The News-Argus regrets this error.
Philip Baddour Jr., a longtime Goldsboro attorney and former state legislator, was honored with the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Cornerstone Award at the chamber’s annual banquet Thursday evening.
The award is presented each year to a person who has dedicated one’s life to serving Wayne County. Baddour’s daughter Helen Baddour, also an attorney, presented the award to her father, who shook his head in surprise as she was called to the stage.
“Dad’s commitment to his clients and the law, and dedication to his community, are qualities that led me to become a lawyer,” she said. “As I approached the end of college, I wondered what I would do with this life. And I realized that I wanted to do whatever necessary to be like my dad.”
Baddour earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967, and quickly returned to Goldsboro to begin practicing. Over the course of his 51-year legal career, Baddour has served in a variety of capacities, including seats on the Wayne County Economic Development Commission and the North Carolina Board of Economic Development.
In 1993, Baddour won election to the N.C. General Assembly, where he served four terms including two as House Democratic leader.
He has also served as president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, served on the Wayne Community College board of trustees, president of the Goldsboro Rotary Club and received a litany of awards including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Baddour said that the Goldsboro and Wayne County community have helped make him who he is.
“I feel very honored to be recognized in this way,” he said. “This is a wonderful community that has opened its arms to me and embraced me for all of my life.”
Standing in front of a crowded ballroom at the Goldsboro Event Center, Baddour accepted his award surrounded by a line of friends, family and co-workers that extended nearly to the walls on either side of him. He said that giving back to Wayne County has been an explicit goal of his for his entire life.
“I love this community. As Helen said, my family has been part of this community for 120 years, and this community has been absolutely wonderful to me and to my family,” he said. “The least that we can do is to give back to this community. Whatever I’ve done, I could not have done it, even begun to do it, without the people standing up here with me right now.”
The annual Ollie Toomey Volunteer Service Award went to Martha Bryan, with SW Productions.
The award is named in honor of the chamber’s former executive director of 21 years, Ollie Toomey, and presented to someone who has served the chamber above and beyond the call of duty.
Charles Gaylor, former chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, called Bryan one of the group’s most ardent supporters.
“John Best captured this year’s recipient best by stating, ‘If there is anything positive or uplifting going on in our community, just look around, and you’ll see her in the crowd,’” Gaylor said. “She epitomizes the saying, ‘People don’t remember what you say, but how you make them feel.’”
Wayne Community College Small Business Center Awards were also presented. Homefront Room Revival and founder Kaitlyn Tinsley won startup of the year, while Latonya Johnson, owner of Pink Piggy Sweets, won Entrepreneur of the Year.
The Ambassador of the Year award went to Brenda Paul, with Southern Bank.
“From the moment this individual joined the Ambassador team, she has proven to be dedicated to the chamber and its mission to serve its members and community,” Gaylor said. “Whether serving as a greeter at Business After Hours or attending chamber events, this ambassador’s commitment to the chamber is commendable.”