Graham receives Paul Harris Fellow Award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2001

Features Editor

Not many presidents have an opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory, but Danny Graham did.

The outgoing president of the Brundidge Rotary Club came to the club’s annual banquet Thursday night expecting to turn over the gavel, but he never expected to leave wearing the laurels of a Paul Harris Fellow.

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Graham was surprised and honored when his name was called as the 2001 recipient of the prestigious award, presented in honor of Paul Harris, the Founder of Rotary.

"I never expected it," said Graham, who has been a member of the club for 10 years. "It just never crossed my mind that I would even been considered. But, I am honored. This is a great honor for any Rotarian."

Graham said the award puts him in very good company. Other recipients of the Paul Harris Fellow are Ralph Dickert, Jack Dickert, Rogers Sherwood, Kyle Leverette, Charlie Butler, Wilburn Howard, Don Dickert, Lamar Steed, L.Q. Johnston, Reynolds Wallace Jr., Hallie Dickert, S.A. Graham and Douglas Botts.

When he was invited to join the Brundidge Rotary Club, Graham knew he would be in good company. He knew those who become Rotarians adopt the club’s motto, "Service above self" and he knew Rotarians are serious when it comes to upholding their commitments. He believed he was up to the challenge.

"I’ve always believed that I owe a debt to my community," he said. "We all enjoy the benefits of a community and we should all be willing to give something back to the community where we live and work."

Graham grew up in the Tennille community, attended school in Brundidge, graduated from the University of Alabama and came back home to live and work.

He was working as an insurance salesman 18 years ago, when Vincent Allen, the agent for State Farm Insurance Companies in Brundidge, approached him about taking over the office upon his retirement.

Graham, laughingly, said he didn’t know if the offer was the opportunity of a lifetime or what.

"I really didn’t know what it was," he said. "I do know that it was more than I had anticipated. But, everything just fell into place. And, I’m very fortunate, because everyone can’t be a State Farm agent in their hometown."

Graham said insurance companies, like all businesses, are changing and it is not as common now for agents to work their hometowns.

Because he has been able to stay "at home" to work, he is able to be a Rotarian who serves his hometown community and he finds great pleasure and fulfillment in that.

"The Rotary

Club does a lot of good in our community," he said. "This year we supported Camp ASCCA, a camp for special children and adults, awarded three scholarships and adopted a child from Russia for a year."

The Rotary Club recently made a $500 donation to the Brundidge Public Library and remains committed to the Adopt-a-Mile Program.

The Rotarians also assist with the annual Independence Day Parade and sponsor the Nutter Butter Parade at the town’s Peanut Butter Festival each year.

Graham likes to be involved in community activities because it keeps him in touch with the community he serves as a Rotarian and the people he serves through his agency.

The 2001 Paul Harris Fellow is also a member of the Brundidge Business Association and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.

He and his wife Cornelia, a teacher at Troy Elementary School, live in Troy. They are the parents of five daughters, Hope Reeder, Birmingham; Joy, Troy State University; Holly, the University of Alabama; Meggan, Charles Henderson Middle School; and Alex, Troy Elementary School.