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VOL. 131 | NO. 234 | Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nominations Open for Dunavant Public Servant Awards

BY K. DENISE JENNINGS, Special to The Daily News

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How many of us know somebody who should be celebrated for the character they show in their work that goes above and beyond anything expected and is done without any hope of ever being recognized, but rather out of an internal compulsion to serve well?

State Sen. Mark Norris talked about the importance of public service after winning one of the Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards last spring.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

This thought was the impetus for the Rotary Club of Memphis East’s annual Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards, which is held each spring to recognize the unsung heroes from Shelby County who serve the people of the Memphis area.

Nominations for the awards are being accepted now and can be submitted online.

Established in 2003 by the Rotary Club of Memphis East and named after former Shelby County Probate Court Clerk Bobby Dunavant, the event seeks to shine a light on the distinguished work of public servants from Shelby County.

Two public servants are recognized each year: one elected official and one non-elected public employee.

“We’re looking for public servants that bear the virtues that Bobby embodied,” said Mark Griffee, chair of the 2017 event and Rotary Club of Memphis East’s president-elect.

Dunavant spent 40 years in public service and was well respected by his colleagues and those he served. He never had a private office, preferring to deal directly with the lawyers, judges and public that he served. He died after a lengthy illness in 2003 at age 67, but his legacy lives on.

Like Dunavant, nominees should be honest, unpretentious, accessible, energetic and involved, generous by sharing wisdom and experience, mentors, empathetic, caring and attentive to detail.

“The nomination form has several categories and it’s all patterned after what made Dunavant a good public servant,” said Griffee, a Memphis attorney.

Nominations are open to the public and will be judged by a committee comprised of Rotary Club of Memphis East members and a member of the Dunavant family.

“The event is designed to recognize public servants who do their job quietly but well and don’t get recognition for it,” Griffee said. “Most of these public servants toil in obscurity, so we look to the people they serve for nominations.”

The time and location of this year’s event haven’t been set yet.

The Dunavant Public Servant Awards is made possible though the support of the Rotary Club of Memphis East and other individuals and groups in the community through the financial sponsorship of tables. While there are only two awards given, the event is designed not just to recognize the award winners, but to recognize all public servants.

“We encourage Rotary members and the table sponsors to invite the public servants they deal with routinely to the event,” Griffee said. “Every public servant deserves at least one time a year to be recognized and applauded for what they do.”

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