Gary Graves honored by peers as top Exchangite

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- A community-service club more known for encouraging youth, supporting shelters for the abused and otherwise fighting child abuse, took time to honor one of its own.

Gary Graves, 67, received the accolades of his peers at Friday night Exchange Club banquet as he was named Exchangite of the Year to a rousing round of applause.

Perhaps it says something about Graves that his acceptance speech was short, to the point and about introducing his family.

"This is quite an honor," Graves said. "Thank you."

He introduced at least three generations of his family that attended the banquet. Corralled on the side of the room, he said he was deeply honored.

"I've been in the club since 1978. Only one gets chosen a year and there are so many good members," Graves said. "It is really an honor."

Asked how many hours he puts into club service a week, he said, "Oh, three or four."

That brought a laugh from his wife Ann. "More like four hours a day," she said. Her pride in her husband's work with the club that has its main goal eliminating child abuse shone as she talked.

"I'm so excited about it for him," she said. "He works so hard for the club. He is a true Exchangite."

The banquet also saw the installation of new club officers, as outgoing president Larry Scully rang the bell at the podium to begin the festivities for the last time.

"I'm just glad to have served to help the club and our cause, stopping child abuse," Scully said. "We have a lot of fun, but we are a club in service to the community."

The new officers were inducted after dinner. They include Barney Knighton, president; Ray Hinman, president-elect; Bill Banks, secretary; Skip Nichols, treasurer.