Auburn couple honored for community service

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

WESSON — The 56th Anniversary Banquet for the BrookhavenExchange Club brought a night of fellowship and recognition Fridayfor those who went above the call of duty in helping others duringthe past year.

“One of the main reasons we’re here tonight is to honor thosewho put the golden rule in play in their lives,” said master ofceremonies Bill Hickman to the group of about 150 at the ThamesCenter for the event.

The most anticipated award of the night went to Welton andMargarette Berry for their unselfish devotion to others in theAuburn community where they live.

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“Their love for the Lord is exemplified in their everyday life.They administer to the sick and shut-ins,” said club member JimmieGillis while presenting the Golden Deeds Award to the couple.

Whether it was visiting people in the hospital, supporting localschools’ activities, or stocking firewood for the elderly in thewinter, the Berrys have filled their days helping others, saidGillis after reading the nomination letter.

He recalled stories of the couple praying for and sitting withpeople during times of need. On numerous occasions, the Berrys havereached out to strangers without a second thought, said Gillis.

“We just try to do all that God wants us to do,” said Mrs.Berry.

The Berrys, who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary,are also known for their close relationship with their family andchurch. They attend Adams Methodist Church, where they are involvedin many activities.

They retired to the area several years ago from Louisiana. Mrs.Berry grew up in Lincoln County and Mr. Berry spent his childhoodin Georgetown.

After accepting the award to a standing ovation, they thankedthe crowd for the honor. They expressed how thankful they were thatretirement had allowed them to give back to society for their manyblessings.

“God has given us the opportunity now that we’re retired,” saidWelton Berry about the unexpected award.

Another surprised person in the room was Ed Ahrend, who receivedthe John L. Leary Award for his hard work in the Exchange Club.

Ahrend sat clueless until his granddaughter, Madelyn Oliver, thethree-year-old daughter of Spence and Kim Oliver of Purvis, wasbrought from another room to the podium to announce that her”Papaw” was the winner.

After hugging his family, Ahrend thanked everyone and said hebelieved many others deserved the award.

“I thank everybody in the club for their hard work,” hesaid.

The award is presented annually to a club member who hasexemplified the true spirit of Exchange. Ahrend has been a memberof the Brookhaven Exchange Club since February 1975.

Other club members recognized during the banquet included AlvinBrown, Carl Dyess, Pete Szczublewski, Ted Evans, Danny Knight,Weldon Smith and Harold Gary for their strong attendancerecords.

Also, Charles “Ploochie” Ratliff, Frank Burns, Bill Haag, JimQuinn, Gordon Sweeney and Chuck Smith were honored with serviceawards ranging from 56 years to 25 years.