Council on Aging Sage Awards

The Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee hosted its 28th Annual Sage Awards on Monday, October 28. The luncheon and awards ceremony was held at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs hosted by radio host George Plaster.

The Sage Awards, presented each year since 1992, serves as COA’s signature event and fundraiser. All funds raised directly support the organization’s mission to champion informed and positive aging and serve as the area’s catalyst for collaborative solutions.

The 2019 Sage Awards honorees are Julian Bibb (Franklin), Thelma Harper (Whites Creek), Bill and Sallie Norton (Nashville) and Gracie Porter (Nashville).

Franklin resident, Julian Bibb has raised more than 40 million dollars as a community leader for nonprofits in Williamson County. Bibb began his career teaching English at Battle Ground Academy after graduation from Sewanee. He then earned his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School and spent 40 years at a Nashville law firm. Currently, Bibb serves as legal counsel for Franklin Synergy Bank. Charlie Warfield has been Bibb’s lifelong mentor, and he inspired Bibb to give back to his community. Working collaboratively with others, he has poured his energies into the community, championing land preservation, historic preservation, and environmental stewardship efforts. Bibb resides in Franklin where he and his wife Jayne have raised their children and are currently enjoying their six grandchildren.

Upon receiving his award Bibb shared, “I love my community, I love Franklin. I’m blessed to live in a place where so many work collaboratively together. There’s not a single effort that I’ve been involved in that did not involve the sustained collaborative effort of many. That’s really the key to success. I think that’s the key to success in Franklin or any community.”

Other honorees included Thelma Harper is the first African-American woman elected state senator in Tennessee. First elected in 1991, Harper was the longest-serving female state senator in Tennessee history.

Bill Norton is a partner in the Bradley LLC law firm. He is a certified bankruptcy specialist and an adjunct professor on bankruptcy law at Vanderbilt University Law School. Norton is a fellow of the American Bankruptcy College, editor-in-chief of a 13-volume bankruptcy law treatise, founder, former president and board member of the Tennessee Turnaround Management Association, and past president and current board member of the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute. Sallie Norton previously worked in the Alumni Office at Vanderbilt as director of reunions, and at Harpeth Hall as director of alumnae relations. She serves on the boards of the West End Home Foundation, the Purpose Prep Charter School and Opportunity Nashville. Norton previously served as a board member for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, past president of the Junior League of Nashville and as a board member for Renewal House.

Gracie Porter has served elementary education in Nashville as a classroom teacher, principal and elected member and chair of the Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County School Board. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University and Belmont University.

Two organizations were also recognized at the event Mental Health America of the MidSouth has served Middle Tennesseans for more than seven decades and Nashville Public Television “Aging Matters” projects with its to date 14 documentaries.

Sage Award honorees (couples or individuals) and alternates are selected by the Sage Awards Committee from the nominations received. The committee, which is comprised of past Sage Award recipients, COA board members and community volunteers, may also consider nominations from previous years. Eligibility includes any older adult (age 55 and older) living in the Middle Tennessee area served by COA.