Leila Case: Run for the Roses, scholarships, birthdays and more

Published 4:17 pm Saturday, May 13, 2017

It was a Kentucky Derby “kinda” day for the Americus Rotary Club’s annual Sheffield Leadership Award Gala last Saturday evening.
For those who aren’t aware here’s a bit of history about the service organization’s annual award that recognizes club presidents in the district competition size category, who through their leadership and dedication made the most significant contribution to advancing Rotary in their individual clubs.
The award’s name derives from the Americus Rotary Club’s singular distinction of having three successive generations of the John Sheffield family to serve the Americus Rotary Club as president as well as Rotary district governor. They are: John Sheffield, (1925-26, Rotary District 39) followed by his son John West Sheffield Sr. (1961-1962, District 6900), and later by his son, Lang Sheffield (1975-76 District 6900). The late John West Sheffield Jr. (Johnny) served as president of the Americus Rotary Club and was a big leader in the organization.
The Americus Rotary Club is the only club in the international organization to have this noteworthy honor.
Two of the five current Sheffield Award recipients, Kay Williamson of the Rotary Club of Meriwether County, and Neill Ferill of the Rotary Club of Vinings, were among the large turnout of Rotarians and their guests who were donned in seersucker, bow ties, and wide-brimmed, flowery chapeaus.
Reda Rowell, Americus Rotary president, says members and guests were given a Yeti-like cup donated by Sumter EMC and insulated gift bags from South Georgia Technical College. Everyone enjoyed mint juleps and the chance to choose and cheer for their favorite horse for the win, place or show while watching on the wide-screen TV made possible by Rene Smith, Jimmy Whaley and Thurston Clary as well as to bid on a wide selection of outstanding silent auction items to raise funds for the club’s service projects.
Meanwhile, Julie Megginson and Sam Peavy hosted a Kentucky Derby party at their home on Brown Street, an event they host annually for friends and colleagues at Georgia Southwestern State University. Everyone brings a dish to share along with the grilled brats, hotdogs and mint juleps Julie and Sam provide. Everyone chooses their first, second and third place horses and prizes are awarded to the winners. Julie says five lucky people picked the winner, Always Dreaming. The attire for the afternoon? Of course, bow ties for the gents and colorful hats for the ladies.
Elsewhere, Donnie and Sylvia Roland hosted a Kentucky Derby-themed fundraiser benefiting Books for Sumter Children, an organization that works with the Ferst Foundation to provide one free book a month through the mail to all children in Sumter County from birth to age five.
Guests were dressed in Kentucky Derby attire with ladies wearing festive hats and men in seersucker suits and bow ties. Hosts served substantial hors d’oeuvres and the traditional mint juleps, the official Kentucky Derby drink. Post-race entertainment was provided by the Plucktones, a local bluegrass band. Revelers enjoyed singing and dancing along to the fun tunes.
Meanwhile, Mark and Crystal Waddell and Nathan and Allison Peck were up close and personal at the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchhill Downs and visited a few iconic places along the way to Louisville even spotting a few celebrities. John Edgemon Jr. of Americus also was among the crowd of onlookers. Incidentally, John has a family connection to the Derby. His great-grandfather, the late John Greer, owned the 1975 Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure.
Congratulations to high school grads Kelly Lynn Ingle of Americus High, Jarrod Wall of Schley County High and Mary Martin Shealy of Southland Academy who was each awarded a $1,000 scholarship by the Council of Safety Chapter, DAR, to further their education.
Meanwhile, Jim Filbey celebrated his 90th birthday at a family dinner party given by his daughter, Beth and her husband Phillip Smith. Jim’s wife, Betty Buchanan Filbey, assisted the hosts. Coming especially for the milestone occasion were Rich and Jennifer Buchanan DeLong and Caitlin and Sydney Delong of Richmond Hill, and Jeff and Kathy Buchanan and daughter, Kole Buchanan of Tampa.
And Joni Woolf had a splendid weekend, visiting long-time friends Lynn and Mike Cass at their home in Saluda, N.C., along with Terry Holland and Jeff Logan. They shopped at the Episcopal Church bazaar, enjoyed lunch at Sierra Nevada brewery in Asheville followed by a tour of the famous facility and were guests of honor at a wine and cheese party given by their hosts.
The Sumter Historic Trust will be presented the Georgia Historical Society’s prestigious Roger K. Warlick Local History Achievement Award at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Lee Council House, given in the category of programs for the 2016 Summer History Camp. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of public history by Affiliate Chapters of the Georgia Historical Society. Trust members and anyone interested in learning more about the preservation organization and the 2017 Summer History Camp for rising fifth and sixth graders is encouraged to attend.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.