Ms. Deborah Keith Mack, has always been a queen and a winner. She was our first Miss E.E. Butler High. I remember her court and football player escorts walking onto the field at City Park. Because she is a person I have known and loved as a sister most of my life. Besides her many talents & intellect, she is a loyal friend to many. Her wonderful parents, Mrs. Amanda & Mr. Slim (as we knew him) treated all of us like their own children. Most of you understand why it is as hard for me to not call her Bo or Borah, as she struggles to not call me Plukie.
Deborah is again in the limelight, named the Woman of the Year by the Rotary Club. Again a trailblazer as the first African American to receive this honor. They could not have made a better choice.
After college, unlike so many of us, she stayed home and gave back amply. In 1967, a Spelman woman had untold career opportunities globally. She chose to invest in her home town and remain close to her family. She has spent her life making life better for others.
I am told that even Jesus was not received well back home. She was, but I am sure her service as a Hall County Commissioner could have been appreciated more by her constituents. This is my opinion, as she would never think or say that. Looking back, I am sure many will agree that our community lost much, and gained little, when she left the Board of Commissioners.
It was also under her leadership that the Fair-Street-Butler High Reunion Committee responsible for a school reunion biennially transformed to The Fair Street-Butler High Schools, Inc. that Preserves the legacy of our community while preparing our youth for the future.
Deborah said she was not aware that the Rotary Club was even considering her. So the announcement was a complete surprise to her. She shared this about the award night……
The room was full of what I call pillars of the community from the other side of town. A friend, who is a Rotarian asked me to go to their banquet with her. She was the one who had nominated me, and made the presentation to me, at the banquet. She had gotten letters of recommendation from several people that I had worked with on the Hall County Commission, some of the nonprofit organizations, friends in the community and of course my family (Connie & Linda Faye kept a secret!)
It was based on my involvement in the community and my compassion for people, of all races. Rotary is an organization dedicated to service locally, nationally and internationally. To foster friendships, promote quality and encourage tolerance and respect among people of all races, religion, and socioeconomic backgrounds. There has been one Hispanic woman and me awarded this recognition in the many years that Rotary of Gainesville has been in existence. I do what I do because this is one thing my parents taught me to do. It shows our community that there is value in what you do, and it does not always involve money.
I think, and am sure that you will agree that the Rotary benefit most by adding this special lady to their legacy. So join me in thanking Deborah for her life of giving, and congratulating her as the Rotary Woman of the year.
John W. Harris
Class or 1965
Director of Communications & Memberships
Attached are the articles written about this honor. Please check them out