Koontz Humanitarian Awards May 16; seats available

  • Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 3:40 p.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, May 9, 2013 3:41 p.m.
Linda Kelly
Linda Kelly

The Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council will honor individuals and a family with its annual Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Awards.

Receiving awards will be Dr. Albert Aymer, Dr. Mary Frances Edens, Wilson R. Cherry and the J.F. Hurley Family.


The awards will be presented at a banquet May 16 at the Salisbury Depot. Seats are still available. To reserve a seat, call Alisha Byrd at Salisbury city offices at 704-638-5220 by 4 p.m. Friday.

Linda Kelly will be the speaker-honoree at this year’s awards banquet. A Salisbury native, Kelly was one of a small group of black students who volunteered in 1963 to attend the still-segregated Boyden High School. She graduated No. 1 in her class, then earned degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Kelly has practiced law, served on various government commissions, and served as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.  She is currently president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, one of the nation’s largest community foundations with a budget exceeding $700 million.

Here are biographies of those receiving Koontz Humanitarian Awards provided by the Human Relations Council:

• Dr. Albert Aymer is president of Hood Theological Seminary, where he transformed the theological department at Livingstone College into one of the nation’s finest seminaries that is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.  In 2002, Hood enrolled its first 12 students into its first doctor of ministry program. Today, Hood serves 300 students from 16 denominations. Aymer is retiring in June.

• Dr. Mary Frances Edens is chairwoman of the Human Relations Council.  She was principal of Overton Elementary School for 14 years before retiring.  Since then, she has devoted her life to nonprofit work, having served on the boards of the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, the Salisbury-Rowan Symphony and the Human Relations Council.

• Wilson R. Cherry currently serves as special projects coordinator and qualified professional at Rowan Vocational Opportunities. He also serves as the coordinator for cultural diversity and multiculturalism. Cherry has won numerous awards including the North Carolina Govenor’s Outstanding Community Service/Volunteerism Award.  As a student at Salisbury High School, Cherry was selected to serve on North Carolina’s Student Task Force that worked with student bodies around the state during the integration of public schools. Cherry is a “go-to” person for Rowan County United Way, where he has visited countless companies on behalf of all 16 United Way Agencies.

• The J.F. Hurley Family, formerly owners of the Salisbury Post, have devoted their energies for decades to making Salisbury and Rowan County a better place for all citizens. The Hurleys have been visionaries who have been instrumental in the development and support of beautification through park expansion and development, the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, improvements at Catawba College and Livingstone College, and the new YMCA which bears their name and has an open-door policy regardless of race, religion, or financial status. The Hurleys were also longtime supporters of Rowan Helping Ministries and services provided by the Family Crisis Council.

There’s no cost to attend the banquet, but the organization does accept donations.

David Post is chairman of the Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award committee this year.

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