Chamber members from throughout the county honored Mark Hampton last week as the King Chamber Business Leader of the Year as part of the annual Chamber Awards Banquet on Thursday.
“This is totally unexpected,” Hampton said, when accepting the award. “The reason I am able to be up here is because people come into my business and do business with us. I want to thank my customers who have allowed me to be here today. Your continued support means the world to our family business.”
The owner of Hampton House Art and Frame also thanked his parents and in-laws for their support over the years.
“Thanks for their ever present love and support,” he said. “Without their love I would not be where I am or who I am today. Hopefully all of us have been fortunate enough to have these influences in our lives.”
Hampton added that he hoped everybody would try to help those around them when possible.
“It does not have to be much,” he said,” an encouraging word or an attentive ear can mean the world when freely given.”
Retired Community Leader of the Year
This year the chamber honored Mary Etta Gentry as the Retired Community Leader of the Year.
Gentry just celebrated her 100th birthday in October, and the Chamber celebrated her century of involvement in the local community.
Gentry graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School in 1933 with the ambition of becoming a teacher. She followed that dream, earning an education diploma from Appalachian State Teachers College in 1935 before starting her career teaching first grade at King School in 1935.
In 1939 she married her husband, R. Holton Gentry and the couple had their first child, Hughes Gentry, in 1942, followed by Mary Ann Gentry in 1944 and Joseph G. Gentry in 1951.
The family joined the King Moravian Church in 1946.
Gentry was recognized for her excellent parenting in 1973 when she was named Stokes County Mother of the Year. The following year she was named Teacher of the Year at King Primary School and in 1975 the King School Annual was dedicated to her. She retired from teaching in 1976.
Gentry has also been nominated for the Jefferson Award for Extraordinary Public Service and was named King Woman of the Year for 1998-1999.
Since retiring she has continued to teach Sunday school and has volunteered with King Outreach Ministries since it opened.
Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award
The King of Spades Garden Club was honored as this year’s Duke Energy Citizenship Service Award recipient.
The garden club originally organized in 1962 with 13 members and today has 20 members including charter member Betty Barnes.
“They are an amazingly active club,” said Duke Energy spokesman Jimmy Flythe as he presented the award. “They have lots of projects helping others and helping to beautify King. We are very lucky to have such a great club in King.”
This year the club planted flowers and plants at the “Welcome to King” signs on U.S. 52, planted flowers at the King Public Library, maintained the Breast Cancer Awareness planter at the King Senior Center, and planted flowers at other locations in King.
Each year the club coats pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed to hang in King Central Park and helps with a special project for residents at Priddy Manor.
Future Business Leaders of the Year
The Chamber also honored students from the county’s main high schools who have shown leadership and interest in pursuing a business career.
Bailey Taylor was honored as the West Stokes High School Future Business Leader. The senior, the daughter of Steve and Jan Taylor, has been doing an internship at the Animal Hospital of Walnut Cove and is currently working on her Girl Scout Gold Award. She will be the first person in Stokes County to achieve a Gold Award in 27 years.
Taylor is active in FBLA, FFA, National Honor Society and is currently president of Random Acts of Kindness. She is also very active in her church and volunteers at King Outreach Ministries and with the Red Cross. She hopes to study veterinary science and become an equine or large animal veterinarian.
Elijah Childers, the son of Time and Lisa Childers, was honored as the North Stokes High School Future Business Leader.
Childers is actively involved in his church helping with bus ministries and feeding the hungry and is active in the National Honor Society, Beta Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is captain of the North Stokes football team and also participates in baseball while maintaining an A honor roll. He plans on studying bio-medical engineering.
Meredith Smith, the daughter of Wendy Cason and Timothy Smith and step-parents Steven Cason and Melissa Smith, was honored as the South Stokes High School Future Business Leader. The junior is active in the Beta Club, Fellowship of Christian Students and SGA and also serves as editor for the school yearbook.
She is interested in starting an FBLA club at South Stokes and hopes to major in dental hygiene and eventually return to school to also study graphic design.
Brandon Simmons, the son of Dennis and Debra Simmons, was honored as the Meadowbrook Academy Future Business Leader.
The junior currently works at Food Lion as a cashier and is working on certification as a volunteer firefighter. He hopes to study auto mechanics at Forsyth Tech.
Justin Inman was honored as the Stokes Early College Future Business Leader. The senior is very active in his school clubs including the Outdoors Club, Sports Club, yearbook, Relay for Life and American Red Cross. He helps organize blood drives in the area and also volunteers with Stokes County Arts Council.
He hopes to major in hotel management at Brigham Young University.
Cole Persinger was honored as the Calvary Christian School Future Business Leader.
Persinger has maintained a high A GPA and is very involved in sports at Calvary including soccer, basketball and baseball. He plans to go to Forsyth Tech to get a college transfer before going to N.C. State where he plans to major in civil engineering.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.