More than 170 Reinhardt University friends — alumni, trustees, faculty, staff and students — gathered for the Talon Awards Gala on March 21 to honor 15 individuals for their achievements at the event at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta.
JoEllen Bell Wilson, the university’s vice president for advancement, emceed the event.
The first to be honored were the Alumni Award recipients. Randell Trammell, president of the Reinhardt Alumni Board of Governors, presented the first award to Betty Ann Callahan, class of 1949, who was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. This award recognizes an individual with outstanding personal achievement and an unselfish and dedicated personal devotion to Reinhardt.
Callahan is a native resident of Cherokee County and attended Reinhardt Academy from 1936 until 1949. After graduating from the academy, she attended Reinhardt’s Junior College where she received her diploma. Wanting to pursue a career in the medical field she entered into a three-year nursing program with Piedmont Hospital. She was the head nurse at then R.T. Jones Hospital (now Northside-Hospital Cherokee) until 1962.
Her second career was in horticulture, where she was the owner of Callahan’s nursery. This garden center grew many beautiful plants.
After years with the successful plant sales outlet, Callahan and her son, Matt, decided to go into real estate. Two of Waleska’s oldest buildings on Highway140 were in need of repair. Callahan didn’t want to see these treasures lost and began the arduous task of restoring Kreations Hair Salon and the former Front Porch Market & Creamery. She and her son also transformed the rolling pasture bordering their home into a golf course known as Callahan’s Golf Links.
Betty Ann and her late husband, Dean Callahan, were married from 1954 until he died in 1992. She is mother of twin sons Stephen and David and son Matthew, and she has five grandchildren.
“There are so many here that have done even more than we have, but no one can appreciate it any more than I do,” said Callahan, upon acceptance of the award. “I thank you for the honor, and appreciate it greatly.”
The alumni to be honored as the “10 Under 10” were presented following the presentation to Callahan. Each year, Reinhardt will recognize a group of 10 alumni from the last 10 years (2002- 12) who are successful in business, the military, nonprofits, government and/or the arts. A picture identifying each will hang in the Hasty Student Life Center as a reminder of what Reinhardt alumni have accomplished.
The “10 Under 10” honored this year include: Dr. Telisha Dionne Bailey , a resident of Oxford, Miss.; Carlos Cadena Gaitán , a resident of The Netherlands; Whitney Carter Herndon , a resident of Brunswick; Nelson Karpeh, a resident of Marietta; the Rev. Thomas Alonzo Lacy, a resident of Tifton; Charity Neese, a resident of Jasper; Jillian Nichols, a resident of Woodstock,; Randell Trammell, a resident of McDonough; Daniel Trotter, a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Capt. Sean Woods, a resident of Alpharetta.
The John Wesley Laity and Clergy Award recipients were also named: Marian Pinson Wilder, a resident of Avondale Estates, and the Rev. Dr. E. Malone Dodson, a resident of Alpharetta, respectively. The Wesley Award was established in 1991 to recognize a layperson who had made a significant contribution to United Methodist institutions of higher education and ministries. Two years later, the clergy award was added.
These awards are named for John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The Rev. Dr. Ron Flowers, president of the Reinhardt Ministerial Association, presented the awards.
Wilder shared her sincere appreciation for being honored. “I sincerely thank you for this honor. My years at Reinhardt helped to shape my life in a positive and spiritual environment, for which I am very grateful.
“I am extremely honored to receive the John Wesley Award because John Wesley spent much of his time preaching to people to understand the importance of serving those who were disadvantaged and disenfranchised. Your recognition of my life’s efforts on behalf of persons with learning disabilities raises awareness to their needs, and I am sincerely thankful for that. In the spirit of Wesley, let’s follow his directive to do all the good we can, in all the ways we can.”
Dodson’s acceptance speech was filled with humor and gratitude.
“I play in the Reinhardt golf tournament every year, and I’ve lost more golf balls in that tournament than any tournament I play in. I have found that golf is a good way to meet people…especially when you hit the wrong ball.
“We thank you for this award, and we love Reinhardt. Today the challenge is to keep Christian education in the forefront in the midst of our changing culture. We can still be a light to the world.”
The Honoree Awards were given to two special recipients this year: The Rev. Leigh Martin, former Reinhardt chaplain and a resident of Cumming, and the late James C. Williams, a former resident of Canton.
Dr. James Mooneyhan, elected to Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees in 1992, recommended that Reinhardt’s Ministerial Association create a Ministerial Honoree Scholarship Program. The Honoree Award recipients are identified by a selection committee as those persons whom they wish to honor and lift up to their students, faculty and staff — persons whose character epitomizes the “core values” taught at Reinhardt. These awards were presented by Mooneyhan, pastor of Tuckston United Methodist Church.
Williams was born in Atlanta, graduated from Roosevelt High School, attended Wofford College on a football scholarship and played for two years before an injury ended his football career.
His first profession was as a commercial interiors company owner. After selling and retiring from commercial interiors and construction, he was approached by Reinhardt’s President Floyd Falany to help with the construction of the Gordy Dormitory. As usual, at Reinhardt, this temporary position became a full-time endeavor and Willams was employed at Reinhardt for 10 years.
“Many describe him as ‘the kindest man I’ve ever known,’” Mooneyhan said. “He never had an unkind word about anyone. He was brilliant and funny. He treated kings and paupers the same. He was a man who deserved admiration, as evidenced by the many, many people who attended his Memorial Service at Reinhardt in 2011.”
Married for 32 years to his wife, Holly, they together have three children. Holly accepted the award in his memory.
Also taking part in the evening was Reinhardt student Elizabeth Coe, who performed the evening’s dinner music, and musical quartet Cobalt Strings comprised of four Reinhardt alumni: Amber Loggins Dobbs, Hannah Aschmann Hise, Jennifer Laminack and Sarah Beth Chumley Wilson, who provided the program’s entertainment.
Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood concluded the evening with special recognition for award recipients and university supporters.
“To those who we have recognized this evening. Congratulations. Please know your achievements honor us as we appropriately take time to reach out to you and say thank you. I hope you know we are proud of you, and we hope that your university continues to be a part of your life.
“Reinhardt is the most dynamic institution of higher education in the State of Georgia. We are building and growing in every way possible way of that measure of quality can be taken. These are exciting and meaningful times for Reinhardt. But as new students come and graduates students go, as new programs are developed, as new and exciting faculty join us, as new buildings and facilities arise, what I know remains unchanged is the spirit of this wonderful university. We are an institution of relationships that shapes lives and builds futures. No one is unmoved by the Reinhardt experience. We challenge and care and guide people as they find meaning and purpose for their lives. That is as true today as it has always been true. “