Lawsonville Ruritans recently marked a memorable milestone when the club celebrated its 50th anniversary at the town’s community building to an attentive crowd and an afternoon reception.
The club was chartered on June 14, 1966 when 34 people came together and vowed to make a difference in their community.
Since then the organization has contributed to over 30 home renovations, supported over 900 children in local little league, sponsored blood drives, awarded three scholarships each year to high school seniors, and were instrumental in acquiring a Verizon cell tower for the county.
“This is a great day for our club,” said Willis Overby, the original club president in 1966 who went on to become the organizations national president in 1988. “I’m thankful the Ruritans are a conduit in which we can help other people by using our hands and our feet. My prayer is as long as the Lord lets me live that my hands might be busy and that my feet might be walking where He’d have me walk.”
Overby said the club has remained true to their three founded principals of fellowship, doing goodwill, and community service.
“There’s no price you can put on fellowship when you come together and laugh. Fellowship is a great thing and allows you to put your hand on somebody’s back and tell them they’re appreciated,” Overby said.
Other original charter members were recognized at the 50th anniversary: Junior Lawson, Bobby Martin, Ed Gray, Glenn Robertson, Marion Ball and Johnny Rogers.
Overby also paid homage to the next generation of Ruritans.
“A strong thing about us is we have a couple members in college. One was the valedictorian at North Stokes, Jackson Moorefield. We are so glad to have young people here who want to be a part of this,” he said.
He also recognized recent track and field state champion, Emma Frye, who was in attendance.
Ernest Lankford shared historical highlights of what the Ruritans have contributed over the past 50 years.
“This anniversary is very special to me and every club member here,” he said. “One of the first Ruritan renovations that I remember was a special project we did when we built a new house for a needy family. They were living in a home and you could almost see through the walls. I think everyone that participated in the project had tears in their eyes when we saw the appreciation from this family and what it meant to them.”
National President of the Ruritans, Calvin Shelton traveled from Tennessee to congratulate Lawsonville’s club on their 50th anniversary.
“You have much to celebrate,” he said. “In 1966 times were difficult. The men who signed the charter were very busy men. Many were farmers, working from sun up to sun down to support their families. And there were professionals such as contractors, educators, pastors, funeral directors and they were busy people too, but they found time to come together and organize a Ruritan club in their community. What do we know about these people? We know they cared. Like you, they cared enough about their family, their friends, and their neighbors and they wanted to make their community a better place in which to live.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.