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His name has been written in the Book of Golden Deeds

Jim Dyess showed up at Brookhaven Exchange Club’s annual Golden Deeds banquet as a favor to his friends, Jill and Bob Logan. He wanted to see his buddy — Jill’s father Frank Burns — receive an honor by the club.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, Dyess, a 70-year-old retired engineer, was surprised with the 66th annual Golden Deeds bronze plaque and recognition for his service to the community.

“This award is the highest award the club can present an individual for the deeds he or she has done for the community,” said club member Ricky Lagrone, the Golden Deeds committee chair.

Others who were honored during the banquet held April 27 at the Thames Conference Center at Copiah-Lincoln Community College include President-Elect Steve Smith, who received the John L. Leary Memorial Award for service, and Brookhaven High School senior Allie  Claire Townsend, who received the Exchange Club scholarship.

It’s a tradition for the winner of the Golden Deeds award to attend the banquet as a guest under the guise of being there for someone else’s honor.

In Dyess’ case, the Logans invited him to the banquet so he could see Burns get recognized.

“I thought he was getting some kind of award,” he said. “I was a little reluctant to go but since they’re such good friends I decided to go.”

When Lagrone started the introductions, he noticed the winner was also from the Delta and was a retired engineer, just like him.

“I thought it was a bizarre coincidence,” he said.

Then Lagrone mentioned the honoree had two sons and when he spoke about the honoree driving an elderly gentleman to Destin, Florida, the light bulb finally clicked on.

“I felt so undeserving. I’ve known a lot of the previous winners and how hard they worked. I didn’t thing I fit in,” he said.

Dyess is a past member of the Exchange Club, having joined it around 1984 when he moved here. But his job as a biomedical engineer took him all over the country and he missed a lot of meetings.

He still helps out when he can, just not in an official capacity.

In his introduction, Lagrone said Dyess is “known to all senior citizens as someone that they can call on when they are in need, but this person has not only helped people in Lincoln County but he has helped people in other states.

He said Dyess helps older residents but never takes money for his services.

“He will not even let them pay for material or parts,” he said.

Lagrone said Dyess is called on “to do jobs no one else is willing to do, or have financial means to get the job done.”

Dyess frequent takes Burns to meetings and even took him to Destin, Florida, and back to Brookhaven so he could spend a few days with his vacationing family.

He said Dyess is “very low key and never wants any praise for work.”

Dyess said he is humbled by the recognition.

“I like helping people,” he said. “People have helped me over the years.”

He is single and a member of First Baptist Church Brookhaven. He has more time to volunteer since he’s retired.

“I try to use it wisely and help when I can,” he said.

Smith, who will take over as president July 1, is currently the club’s fair chairman, but will soon pass that duty on to Marty Moore.

He’s honored to receive the Leary award because members of the club make nominations and then vote on a winner.

“I was surprised,” he said. “It’s very humbling because there’s so many out there that deserve it just as much as I do or more. It really threw me for a loop. I didn’t even know my name was on the list.”

Youth Chairman Stan Long presented the Exchange Club scholarship to Townsend at the banquet.

Townsend, a senior at Brookhaven High School, is the daughter of Dwayne and Cindy Townsend.

She has worked at the Exchange Club Fair for the last four years, the Brookhaven Open House for the last four years, the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce for four years and the Holiday Food Pantry for three years.

At Ole Brook, she is a member of the National Honor Society, Mississippi Scholars Program and the Color Guard. She was selected to Who’s Who Among High School Students, Brookhaven’s Miss Merry Christmas and President Volunteer Service Award. She is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Showstoppers Studio of Dance. She attends Macedonia Baptist Church where she works with vacation Bible school and is a member of the youth group.