SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - If there was ever a year for something out of the ordinary, it’s 2020.
“The award is not given annually, it’s given when there is a deserving recipient,” Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jon Panell said.
And in this year unlike any other, it was also unique that two people received the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce Oglethorpe Award - the highest recognition of Savannah’s business and community leaders.
“It’s to recognize those individuals who have given back to Savannah and the greater community through their jobs and acts and generosity.”
Pat Monahan did that with his work. Three decades as assistant Chatham County Manager before coming out of retirement to serve temporarily as Savannah’s City Manager.
“His six months turned into 12 months, turned into 18 months, which is pretty remarkable, especially during the pandemic.”
Dick Eckburg did it with the fruits of his work, contributing to more than 250 local organizations, institutions and causes. And for every building in Savannah with Eckburg’s name on it, there were thousands of people that never knew he had helped them.
“He gave anonymously. Construction workers who got tools, sending children to school, paying their tuition, getting them books,” said Mills Fleming, who worked with Eckburg on restoring the Lucas Theater.
“As a wife, spending 53 years with this man, I was in awe. And I have been in the past and I will be in the future,” said Judy Eckburg, Dick Eckburg’s widow.
The Oglethorpe Award presented at this morning’s annual Chamber Business Breakfast was designed to emit that kind of reaction - on the occasions it is given out.
“This is a big deal, one of the Chamber’s highest honors.”
“Today’s award means a lot in that it is all about Savannah. And I think Dick’s heart was in Savannah, too.”