March 6, 2009
Neal Wagner -
It was an "honoring and humbling" experience Thursday afternoon as the Columbus Exchange Club awarded its 36th Andy Morris Book of Golden Deeds Award to a longtime local banker.
"I was just very honored that they would select me to receive this award," said Bobby Harper, former Cadence Bank regional president and recipient of the 2008 Book of Golden Deeds Award. "I am proud to join the list of such wonderful previous recipients."
Exchange Club members chose Harper to receive the organization''s highest honor after reviewing the former bank official''s resume and determined he had an "extremely strong" past of community service, said Exchange Club President Elton Thomas.
"You have to almost have a lifetime of selfless community service to be considered for this award," Thomas explained. "You definitely have to have a pretty daunting list of volunteer and community service projects on your resume.
"Bobby Harper has served in so many volunteer capacities for so many causes and organizations," Thomas added. "In the hour we had this afternoon to honor him, it was impossible to cover all his contributions to the community. This award is a big honor in our opinion."
Throughout the past several decades, Harper volunteered his time to ensure Columbus Air Force Base remained in the Friendly City, and has served on the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link, Golden Triangle Regional Airport and Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle boards of directors.
Harper also has served on the Columbus Main Street board of directors, the Mississippi University for Women Foundation and has served with the Frank Phillips YMCA and the United Way.
Although Harper retired from Cadence Bank in 2006, after 40 years with the company, he still works part-time at the bank by providing business development and public relations input.
"If you look at the list of things he has done during his life, you can see that he is actually over-qualified for this award," Thomas laughed. "That''s not an easy thing to do."
Though Harper is only the 36th person to win the award since 1972, he remained modest about his accomplishments.
"I just feel that specific work within the community is part of my job," said Harper. "I have just been blessed to have the opportunity to work with many good people throughout the years.
"I am fortunate to work in a community that responds to so many worthy needs," Harper added.