by Pearlie M. Bowser
Some of us are called to provide safety, security and self-worth to immediate family members or a neighbor across the street; but the impact of other residents is much greater. Albany State University celebrated the work of Jane Seddon Willson whose contributions extend beyond the local community to reach residents throughout the state and the country. Willson, the recipient of the 2013 Community Service Award presented by ASU was hailed as a “state treasure” at an elegant banquet Thursday evening on Nov.14
“I am thrilled to participate in this tribute to a Georgia treasure and a jewel in Albany’s crown,” said ASU Vice President for Institutional Advancement Clifford Porter Jr. “Jane Willson’s work has touched us all so deeply. Her mission is to insure the sustainability and legacy of our city’s most important institutions,” Porter added.
ASU student leaders joined Albany State’s Interim President Kimberly Ballard-Washington to greet guests and thank Willson for supporting a series of music programs at the school. “An African proverb says: ‘When you pray, you move your feet.’ Over her lifetime, Mrs. Willson has uttered prayers, shared her strong opinions; then moved her feet to transform the lives of men, women and children in this community and statewide,” said Ballard-Washington.
All evening, showers of praise flowed as guests enjoyed a sumptuous main course of Georgia shrimp cakes, Hunter’s chicken, roasted red potatoes, honeyed carrots and pumpkin cheesecake drizzled in Grand Marnier topped with nuts and whipped cream catered by Aramark. “I believe as our honoree does, that it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter the kind of family to which you belong or the color of your skin; if you have self-worth, you have everything it takes to be a success in this life. Thank you Mrs. Willson for supporting our beloved institution,” said 2nd Attendant to Miss ASU Carmen Nicholson. “Each of us must lift as we climb,” SGA President Dejane’ Thompson told the audience. “That’s how to obtain lasting happiness and success. We’re here to celebrate a woman who has both and understands what it means to ‘pay it forward.’”
A performance by alumni in the ASU Opera Workshop was conducted by Dr. Leroy Bynum, a longtime family friend of the Willsons. Dr. Marcia Mitchell Hood also provided music. After a video tribute that contained photos and messages from her son, employees at Sunnyland Farms, Inc. and community leaders, Willson accepted the award and said, “I’m proud to be a member of the Albany State family.” Past community service award recipients are SB&T Bank and its president Mark J. Lane; Albany’s former mayor Dr. Willie Adams, Jr.; and retired bank president and realtor Patsy C. Martin.