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Swager chosen for club award

James Swager grinned broadly as he walked down the aisle shakinghands and sharing hugs on his way to accepting the BrookhavenExchange Club’s Golden Deeds Award at the Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege’s Thames Center Friday.

“I had no idea what I was here for. I thought I was just aguest,” he said to the chuckles of members.

Swager’s acceptance speech was brief.

“I sure hope I live up to all you said,” pointing to HaroldGary, who introduced the honoree and presented the award.

Gary said Swager was chosen from a tight field of nomineesbecause of his selfless attitude and his embodiment of the ExchangeClub spirit.

“He is a low-profile person who does things for others,expecting nothing in return,” said Gary, paraphrasing the club’smotto.

Gary said Swager, despite recovering from brain surgery toremove malignant cancer, continued to provide the charitableservices for which he is known. From house and mechanical repairsto serving as a taxi for those with no way to seek medicaltreatment, the World War II veteran and active member of FirstBaptist Church has always been there, Gary said.

“He has carried numerous people to the doctor’s office in McCombor Jackson,” Gary said.

The club also recognized one of its own for his selflessachievements in 2006. James Simpson was presented the club’s JohnL. Leary Award by Nolon Bowman.

Simpson was nominated by his peers for the award despite havingonly joined the club recently. He joined in September 2005.

Simpson, too, was a man of few words.

“I’d rather work than talk,” he said as he waved the award tothe crowd and returned to his seat.

Simpson was chosen because of his unwavering support for theExchange Club Fair, among other activities. He and his wife weresolely responsible for the new signs that appeared at the fair thisyear, and Bowman said Simpson never missed a work day.

Charles “Plootchie” Ratliff received a special award at thebanquet. He is the only remaining charter member of the club stillactive as it celebrated its 60th anniversary Friday. The club waschartered on Jan. 1, 1947.

Bob Harb, a past national president of the Exchange Club from1999-2000, said it was ironic that he was there as a guest speakerto talk to the Brookhaven club. His New Hampshire club celebratedits own 60th anniversary only a few weeks before.

He praised the local club and members for their efforts.

“I’ve been to Mississippi as many times as any other state overthe years. Why? Because you do so many good things down here,” hesaid. “I have no doubt Brookhaven knows the value of this club, andthat is something to be proud of.”