The Franklin Theatre was bursting at the seams on Wednesday, July 25, as Franklin Tomorrow held its 12th annual Exemplary Community Volunteer Awards.
Taking home the top award of the evening – the Anne T. Rutherford Award – was Rick Warwick, who for 23 years has volunteered his time with the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County and other groups as a historian, receiving no pay for his efforts.
“His wonderful curiosity, network of Williamson County natives and ability to remember a zillion dates and facts make our community history interesting and valuable to all he encounters. He has an extraordinary work ethic and is known to work six or seven days a week,” wrote his nominators Kristy Williams and Mary Pearce.
“He has made his office in Leiper’s Fork, in a hallway at the Five Points Post Office, a pass-through room in a rental property, and now serves Williamson County in the former Sheriff’s Office and Drunk Tank at the Lehew-Magid Big House for Historic Preservation,” the duo continued. “For this project, he sold a sizable part of his Dick Poyner chair collection that raised over $12,000 for the Old, Old Jail rehabilitation.”
Warwick’s volunteer work has resulted in a collection of over 15,000 photographs. He has served as the editor of 15 books on local history, 32 historic journals, and has raised funds and placed over 150 historic markers telling our communities’ history. He is the official Williamson County Historian and has served on the Tennessee Historical Commission, Editor of the Williamson County Historical Society, Co-Chaired Williamson County’s Bicentennial Celebration, served as a board member for the Heritage Foundation, Carter House, Carnton, and founding member of Franklin’s Charge and the African American Heritage Society.
His nomination was supported by 10 letters from various community members, including David Garrett, who serves as president of the Heritage Foundation Board of Directors and is a past recipient of the Anne T. Rutherford Award himself.
“The importance of Rick’s work in saving the history of our county cannot be overstated. With the influx of new people and new development, it would be easy for Franklin and Williamson County to have ‘lost’ the history of our past generations,” Garrett wrote in his letter. “Due to Rick’s tireless efforts, our history has been preserved. More importantly, he has helped our history come alive and remain relevant to our current residents.”
Earlier in the evening, retiring 61st District State Rep. Charles Sargent was recognized for his contributions over 22 years in the Tennessee House of Representatives with the Business Legacy Award. Sargent’s family accepted the award on his behalf due to health issues which kept him from attending the ceremony.
“The last 22 years has been a great pleasure for me to serve the people of the 61st district and Williamson County. I think we’ve accomplished a lot and look to accomplish a lot in the future. I plan on staying involved in the community, involved in politics and continuing to work with the city mayors and county mayor in the coming years,” Sargent said in a release read to the audience.
Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Columbia State Community College President Dr. Janet Smith lauded Sargent for his dedication to education during both his time in the General Assembly, but also in the years preceding as a member of the Williamson County Commission.
“I want to thank Rogers for presenting this to my wife, Nancy, tonight,” Sargent wrote. “He’s been the county mayor for the last 16 years but has been my best friend for the last 30-plus years. We started our political life together and Rogers has done a wonderful job of leading our county – balancing the budget and planning for the growth of Williamson County.”
Of Smith, Sargent wrote he could talk for quite some time. “I appreciate everything she has done for Columbia State. She has allowed me the opportunity to come in and help and work with them. I look forward to – some people may or may not know – the garage is going to be under construction in this fall and the fourth building is already planned for and is on the top of the TBR list.
“As you know, this school has been so successful. Our growth is one of the highest growing community colleges in the state and our test scores are one of the highest in the state. I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Smith and doing whatever I can to progress with the fourth building,” Sargent wrote.
This Business Legacy Award recognizes an individual who has made significant impact in the areas of business, quality of life, and leadership, according to Tim Murphy, Franklin Tomorrow Board president.
Sargent rose to the heights of leadership in the Legislature, chairing the powerful House Finance, Ways & Means Committee. Sargent is given much of the credit for pushing through the maze of committees funding for construction of the Columbia State Community College campus on Liberty Pike in Franklin.
Sargent and his wife Nancy have lived in Franklin since the 1970s, much of the time in the Grassland community. They have two children, Margaret and David, and two grandchildren, Adelyn and Savannah. Sargent owns a Nashville State Farm office and is a U.S. Navy veteran.
Other awards presented on July 25 included:
Volunteer Spirit Awards – Casey Enright, honored for founding The Word Wagon; Laura Musgrave, honored for her work with Alzheimer’s Association Mid South Chapter, Middle Tennessee Region; and Tina Cahalan Jones for her work with the African American Heritage Society, Spring Street Seniors, and other groups.
Youth Initiative Awards – Cameron Cox, honored for her work with Habitat for Humanity of Williamson/Maury, and Sidonia Cannon, nominated for her work with Threads of Care.
Civic Group Award – Daughters of the King, honored for their work on the Feed My Lambs program.
Corporate Individual Award – Brian Marger, honored for his work with Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee
Corporate Team Award – Atmos Energy & CenterPoint Energy Services, honored for their work with United Way of Williamson County.
In addition, 20 individuals were honored during a special in memoriam program during the event for their contributions as volunteers and community leaders. Each person will be further recognized when a paver is installed at the Friends of Franklin Parks’ TSC Arena at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm, thanks to Friends of Franklin Parks and Williamson Memorial Funeral Home & Gardens.
Honored during the in memoriam program were the late Ann R. Griffeth, Barbara Stephens Burgnon, Carol Davis Crow, Connie Clark Sr., Delores Guess Beathard, Diane Thorne, Dora Palmer, Frank Emerson, Houston Naron Jr., Jack Walton Jr., Johnny Guffee Sr., Louise Green, Margaret Conners Anderson, Marjorie Hardcastle, Megan Fitzgerald, Michael Szilagyi, Myrldene Buswell, Nancy Crosslin Davis, Sarah Cook, and Virginia Bowman.
Making the event possible as partners were Williamson Medical Center and Jackson National Life, which is underwriting the costs of the Franklin Theatre. Acting as supporters were Buerger Moseley Carson, First Advantage Bank, Franklin Lions Club, Franklin Noon Rotary, PARKS Realty, and Williamson Memorial Funeral Home & Gardens.
Patron supporters for the event were The TMA Group, Franklin Rotary at Breakfast, and Signs First. Supporters are 63rd District State Rep. Glen Casada, 23rd District State Sen. Jack Johnson, District Attorney General Kim Helper, Ernie & Nell Bacon, Lipman Brothers and R.S. Lipman Company, Williamson Herald, and Ryan Search & Consulting.