George A. Wright Memorial Award recipients

Community activists Dave Hetzel and Harold Harper Sr. received the 2015 George A. Wright Memorial Award Friday at First Baptist Church Family Life Center. Pictured, from left, are Harper, Hetzel and Tift County Recreation Department Director Craig Sowell.

TIFTON — Two local men who are committed to community and church service, patriotism and their family were awarded the George A. Wright Memorial Award for 2015.

Dave Hetzel and Harold Harper Sr. were recognized for this honor at Friday's Older Americans Month kick-off luncheon at First Baptist Church Family Life Center.

Because of his outstanding contributions as a citizen of Tift County, a perpetual memorial for George A. Wright was established, which is awarded to individuals 60 years of age and older who exemplify the qualities that Wright exhibited. His many examples included his contribution as a community servant and civic leader, his Christian witness as a church man, his service as a dedicated patriotic American, his loving devotion to his family and his career as an outstanding businessman.

All of these qualities led the people of Tift County to honor Wright, posthumously, with the Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year award in 1981.

For the past 34 years, 66 senior adults in the Tifton community have been awarded the George A. Wright Memorial Award. All past recipients present at the luncheon were recognized, as well as Wright's family.

Hetzel is a former city councilman and has served on several committees. He is very active in the community, serving on many boards, including Keep Tift Beautiful, Tiftarea Greenways Association, Tift County Commission on Children & Youth, Gang Prevention Committee, Tiftarea Homeless Coalition and the Tifton Merchants Association. He has helped with several other community projects, such as Hands on Tifton and Meals on Wheels.

Hetzel is a member of First United Methodist Church and is a retiree from military duty. He served 25 years active duty with the United States Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel. During that time, he served 11 years in the Pacific Theatre. He was elected to the Georgia Municipal Association Board of Directors from 2008-2012 and appointed director of training in 2010.

Hetzel and his wife, Louise, have five children (one deceased) and grandchildren.

Harper has served in many civic and governmental offices, including the Downtown Development Authority, Historic Preservation Committee, Tift County Development Authority, Tift County Tourism Board, Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce, Tift County Motel/Hotel Association and the Tift Theatre Board.

He is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church. He was the catalyst and driving force for what has become an award-winning downtown central business district. As a member of Tifton's DDA, he invested countless dollars and hours in restoration projects, most notably the Myon Hotel and the Tift Theatre for Performing Arts.

The city named First Street in Harper's honor. He was featured in the Georgia Trend magazine in 2000 for his efforts and also named one of the 40 most influential south Georgians in 2003. He served our country and was honorably discharged.

Harper and his wife, Dorothy, have four children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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