Extraordinary People are all around us in Saline County

By Brent Davis

The world around us is full of chaos, violence and destruction. The situation in the Middle East should have every American concerned about the clear and present danger that could ignite at any moment.
While it is a prudent measure to keep a watchful eye on that particular region, let us not forget to turn an appreciative gaze upon what often times is overlooked right here in our own backyard.
Last year The Saline Courier created a publication titled “Extraordinary People.” In the prior year, we titled it “Angels Among Us.” We asked readers and residents of the county to submit names of individuals who go above and beyond everyday actions to inspire, comfort and assist others in the community.
This year, we repeated the process for the second event of what will become an annual occurrence.
On Thursday night, we held a reception for this year’s recipients at the family center of Northside Church of Christ. Each recipient brought family and friends with them. We held the reception as a “launch party” of sorts for the magazine and to give a first look to those individuals written about within the pages.
Each of the 12 recipients recieved an award, a framed photo of his or her portrait in the magazine and a chance to address the crowd gathered.
All expressed thanks for the award, but also stated they did not feel they had done anything extraordinary to earn the honor.
This trait of humility is one that presents a refreshing perspective to those who witnessed the evening’s speeches.
This year, the group of honorees spans the county and generations.
We are proud to present, in alphabetical order, the recipients of the Extraordinary People 2012 awards:
Daska Fulcher is well known to Benton residents. She is a retired teacher and thousands of students were fortunate to have her as an influence on their education at East Side Elementary School (now Angie Grant Elementary).
Linda Gilbert, also a retired teacher, is actively involved in charitable efforts in Saline County, specifically at CJCOHN in Benton. She also works with the elderly in area nursing homes.
Phillip Guthrie, D.D.S. (retired) of Bryant, remains active at 77 years of age by visiting shut-ins, working in his church and bringing his own home-grown gardenias for every woman in his church on a regular basis.
Barbara Howell is well known to the people at Lake Norrell where she lives. She aids people in the area and is the driving force behind the annual July 4th fireworks show on the lake. The show has grown to a community event in which local residents are honored for their commitment to the area.

Mary Kay Mooney of Benton is well known to anyone in the city who has been involved with community service causes ranging from the Saline Memorial Hospice House to assisting those with breast cancer to her current project, raising funds for a bronze panther statue to be placed in front of Benton High School.
Jim and Missy Partridge are quiet people who let their work speak for their love of community. Both are Master Gardners and have created what some have called “heaven on earth” on their property in Benton. The flower gardens, butterfly area and the natural beauty they have created are their gift to Benton. They share their property with youth groups and other gardeners.
Ella Pennington of the Ten Mile community near Lonsdale, has never met a head of hair she didn’t like. She found her calling as a hairdresser immediately after graduating high school and hasn’t stopped for 51 years. Her customers have become her family. If they can’t get to her, she goes to them. When a customer passes away, she makes sure to style their hair the final time.
Del Roberson of Benton is one of those rare individuals who always sees the bright side of any situation. His affable nature is one that is infectious. He has never missed a meeting of the Lions Club in 39 years. He also served as county judge.
Ian Shuttleworth of Bryant is an outstanding example of the promise of youth. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin,s lymphoma on March 23, 2011. His determination and faith were tested. Now he is in remission, plays on the offensive line for the Bryant Hornets and serves as an inspiration to all that meet him, regardless of age.
Lillie Snow of Alexander is a dynamic woman full of energy and drive. She has taken care of people in her community, friends and her family in their time of need and illness. She tried to retire, but found she loved working too much to stop.
Toni Thomas works seemingly without rest every day at the Neurology Clinic with her husband, Dr. Jim Thomas. She is involved as a volunteer with local soccer programs and drives her sons each morning to the Catholic School in Little Rock, returning each afternoon to bring them home.
Carolyn Westbrook of Benton has a heart so big it must take up the entire area of her body. Her love for her children, her dedication to animals and her involvement with the Humane Society of Saline County requires a commitment of time and energy of which she seems to have an unending supply.
Our magazine dedicated to these winners, 11 honorable mentions and other information about Saline County is our way of saying thank you to the people of our community who give of themselves for others.
The magazine will be inserted with the Sunday, Sept. 30 edition of The Saline Courier.

Brent Davis is the managing editor of the Saline Courier. He may be reached at bdavis@bentoncourier.com.