HOUSTON – He waded ashore on Normandy Beach on July 4, 1944 and was wounded twice in World War II, he then returned to Mississippi, set up a dental practice in Houston and raised a family, helping many people along the way.
Dr. Herman Smith, 92, was named the Chickasaw Development Foundation’s Citizen of the Year for a lifetime of service to the community. Five other individuals, businesses and organizations were also honored at the CDF Annual Banquet at the Houston First United Methodist Church Family Life Center March 25.
“This is a great honor and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart,” said Smith. “Houston has been great to me and my family. Thank you.”
Smith was given a standing ovation as he accepted his award and a list of achievements was read, including being appointed to the Mississippi State Dental Board for nine years.
Joyce East, CDF executive director, pointed out the 170 people gathered for the annual banquet was the largest crowd ever.
“I want to welcome each and every one of you and thank you for your attendance,” said East. “We have accomplished a lot this year and you are the people who have done it.”
CDF Board President John Walden, said the creation of four committees in 2013 has prompted a lot of action and activity. Walden recognized the Community Activity Committee, Houston Business Group, Tourism Committee and the Marketing Committee at last week’s banquet and asked members of those committees to stand.
“We opened the Tanglefoot Trail just five months ago and have a race this weekend,” said Walden. “The committees have created a lot of momentum and the Chickasaw Development Foundation wants to continue to be a catalyst for growth and change.”
Walden also pointed to a community calendar created by CDF and presented at last week’s banquet. He said CDF was working to host at least one and sometimes more events each month of 2014. Each event is aimed at bringing people and businesses to Houston.
Others receiving awards at the Chicksaw Development Foundation Annual Banquet were:
• Main Street Rising Star Award – Roam Boutique with co-owner Elizabeth Pettit accepting.
• Youth Organization Award – John Gravat, Houston Parks and Recreation Director.
• Entrepreneur of the Year – David and Donna Parker, of David’s One Stop in Houlka.
• Good Samaritan Award – Dr. Victor and Debbie Horn, of the Helping Hands Healing Hearts Free Clinic at First Baptist Church.
• Business of the Year – Hometown Healthcare, with Steve Pearson and Scott Kilgore accepting.
CDF also conducted business at its annual banquet and voted on the 2014 Board of Directors. The board is made up of Chairman John Walden, Vice-Chairman Jason Brooks, Betty Holder, Judy McQuary, Bob Pearson and Rex F. Sanderson.
Board members Talitha Hudson and Rayburn Parks rotated off the board and Gail Baird and Gene Childs were named new board members to serve a two-year term.
Dining entertainment was provided by harpist Sue Grubbs of Okolona.
The Chickasaw Development Foundation was founded in 1953, and is one of the oldest economic development organizations in Northeast Mississippi.
It has served as a catalyst for bringing about industrial growth in Houston and Chickasaw County. Although Chickasaw County ranks 53th in population among Mississippi’s 82 counties, it is 13th in manufacturing jobs.
Chickasaw County is home to the largest furniture store in the state and is home to one of the largest private furniture manufacturers in the nation.
The community manufactures a wide variety of products, such as wood products, upholstered furniture, polyfoam, cotton batting, carpet underlay, PVC pipe, wood turnings, shipping containers, specialized farming equipment, kitchen and gun cabinets and steel fabrication.