Thursday, December 3, 2009
Luther named Leader of Year
By SUE WATSON
The man whose name has become synonymous with Christmas was chosen as Leader of the Year by the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce.
Ronnie Luther, who over a decade ago, with his wife Brenda, founded the Clydesdale Christmas Store so children in north Mississippi wouldn’t be left out during the holiday gift giving, was recognized by the chamber for his involvement, service and leadership that “contributes to a better society,” the chamber wrote.
The award was presented Nov. 19 at BardenStone.
Listing Luther’s many contributions and activities, the chamber recalled his 35 years’ dedication to A&B Distributing, his help in building market share, and his influence in the Mississippi Legislature.
He was awarded the 2003 President’s Award for Excellence by Standard Sales Company, co-founded the Clydesdale Christmas Store in 1994 which began with about 35 children and now provides gifts for about 500 each year, helped launch Holly Springs’ Kudzu Festival and the Byhalia Clydesdale Festival, organized an annual golf tourney to raise money for the Clydesdale Store, and provides gifts for nursing home residents yearly at Christmas.
The Christmas Store took its entire annual donation to 65 families in Waveland, in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast communities across the entire state and into New Orleans.
In recent years, the Luthers have organized a Christmas dinner and party for National Guardsmen and their families and included visits with Santa for the children. The Luthers will help organize a dinner and Christmas gifts for the families of the Holly Springs-Hernando National Guard again this year as so many of the Guard’s members are deployed this year in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Luthers took the Christmas Store to families in Harmontown, last year providing toys and clothing to 60 children. They will return to assist about 100 children this year.
Brenda Luther was recognized as Woman of the Year this year by the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi for her volunteer work, including the Christmas Store.
“Ronnie has always said, the good you do for others is the good you do for yourself,” the chamber wrote.
In thanking the chamber, Luther recognized the many volunteers who help make the Chirstmas Store a success by donations and volunteering.
“It’s not me, it’s everybody in this community - one person, two people don’t do this,” he said. “If you are able to give back, if you are fortunate enough to do it, you help. I thank y’all.”
The 2009 Board Member of the Year award went to Frances Moore.
Her nomination included these remarks: “This year’s Board Member of the Year does a great job in making decisions that bear in mind the overall benefit to all chamber members and to the ultimate good of the community.”
Moore was cited for attending lots of meetings and functions and promoting the chamber’s purpose and programs.
“She’s always there when needed, doing her part,” said executive director Sarah Sawyer. “She’s worked on numerous committees including being president of the garden club, treasurer of the United Methodist Women, helping rebuild the Byhalia United Methodist Church, helping take care of the town cemetery improvements. She takes the lead in beautification projects. She cares deeply about family, church, the chamber and the community. She has Byhalia’s future at heart. We all know and love her as Miss Frances.”
Moore and her late husband, Dudley Moore Jr., organized the White Oak Classic Walking Horse Show that ran for 16 years in Byhalia.
Eric Altemeyer and Steve Aulman, co-owners of Hype Computer Services, received the 2009 Customer Service Award.
“They do the best to have the best customer service in every part of business and communicate that goal to all their customers,” the chamber wrote.
The two were recognized for allowing their customers to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and for having invested in the chamber and the community.
Hype opened as a part-time business in Byhalia out of a passion for its product and service by the owners. Hype Computer Services is focused on products, services and pricing, the chamber said.
The brothers opened a full-time business in Byhalia as their customer base grew.
Other comments about the service included, “It’s great to have someone to call right away and not feel a bother. We like to know it’s not going to cost us an arm and a leg. We all know computers have become a necessity of our business and personal lives.”
Hype Computer Services offers repair, installation, wireless installation, data backup, and home entertainment products.
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