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Five Brunswick County residents receive NAACP awards

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The Brunswick County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) honored five recipients Saturday night for many years of service in Brunswick County.

Carl Parker, first vice president, said there was no elaborate explanation for why recipients were honored.

“Because they have done something beyond the call of duty,” he said. “They didn’t sit on the porch, plain and simple.”

Judge James Faison III was invited to be the guest speaker at Saturday’s ceremony. Faison serves as a judge in New Hanover County but also as a pastor in Duplin County.

Faison shared a story about sentencing a man in his courtroom for dealing drugs, but when he asked the man what his purpose in life was, the man did not know and said he was waiting for someone to tell him.

“I felt the pastor in me coming out,” Faison said, and handed the man a handwritten note containing several scriptures from the Bible. He said that was where he found his own purpose.

Faison saw the man sometime later in the community and was thanked for sharing the scriptures. The man said he found his purpose.

“All of us have value and all of us play a role that makes this community a better place,” he said. “As we work together to make a difference, let us remember to collaborate with one another. We must collaborate, not compete.”

Faison said the award recipients are role models for the community, and set examples for the community.

“They work and they serve because they know it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Etherine Phillips Butler

Ethernie Butler was honored for her many accomplishments within her church and community. Butler has a master of education degree from the University of South Carolina.

She was a member of the North Carolina Teachers Association and the North Carolina Association for Educators, once the black and white associations merged. She later joined the North Carolina Retired School Personnel.

“As chairperson of NCAE Political Action Committee for Education, she was instrumental in organizing a salary supplement committee and they convinced the county commissioners and the superintendent of Brunswick County Schools to find ways of providing a salary supplement for teachers.”

Butler has also served as president of Mount Zion young adult choir, president of Mount Zion young adult mission department, president of the Mount Zion missionary circle, a deaconess and a Sunday school teacher.

Her civic duties include: member of Brunswick County Citizens Association; member of the Brunswick County Democratic Party and Grissettown Precinct; delegate to Brunswick County Democratic Party Conventions; delegate to the 7th Congressional District Conventions; treasurer of the 7th Congressional District Black Leadership Caucus; and president of the NCCU Alumni and Friends.

Betsy S. Johnson

Betsy Johnson was recognized for many accomplishments within the community, one being her beauty and barbershop business she has owned and operated since 1977. Johnson received a cosmetology diploma in 1966 from DeShazor’s Beauty College in Durham.

Other accomplishments include: Past president of Ebony Cosmetologist Club; NAACP, member; Uplifting Faith Ministries, member; Town Creek Vision Corporation, member; NAACP Mother of the Year 1995, Cedar Grove Branch; and Willing Workers Club, member.

Curtis Sinclair Bernard

Curtis Sinclair Bernard was posthumously honored for many acts of service to the community, particularly during the Hurricane Hugo aftermath clean up and his determination to make the Cedar Grove community a “tightly woven family structure.”

Accomplishments include: United States Army 82nd Airborne paratrooper; NAACP member; Cedar Grove Improvement Association president; and an executive board member in Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover and Columbus counties.

Jerelyn McMillan

Jerelyn McMillan was recognized for her involvement in NAACP and with the Brunswick County Health Department and health issues facing the county. She is a life-subscribing member of the Brunswick County Branch of the NAACP and serves on the health relations committee, and previously served on the mother of the year and freedom fund committees.

McMillan has worked for the health department since 1992 as a public health social worker in the maternal health section, where she coordinates services for pregnant women and new mothers to ensure healthy babies. She is also a SIDS counselor. She was named one of the Brunswick County Partnership Health Care Champions for Children, and was awarded for her service in public health by the North Carolina Public Health Association. The Brunswick County Health Department named her the 2003 employee of the year.

She serves as chairperson for the Minority Infant Mortality Task Force of Brunswick County, where she works to reduce the infant mortality rate in Brunswick County by promoting quality infant care.

McMillan is a member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Southport, and serves as a Sunday school teacher.

Edie Bryant Gause

Edie Gause was honored for her civic and church duties and years of service. The NAACP named her Mother of the Year in 2002. Gause also serves on the committee.

Her civic involvement includes: Brunswick County Citizens Association, secretary; Calabash Lions Club, member; Gold Wing Road Riders Association, member; Grissettown Community Association, secretary; Minority Infant Mortality Task Force, member; Democratic Women, member; Woman’s Fellowship Ministry, member.

Her church involvement includes: Pleasant View Baptist Church, member; Pleasant View Mission Circle, president; Pleasant View Baptist Church, usher; Ocean View Sunday school teacher; past Sunday school secretary, pastor’s secretary, pastor’s aide committee, finance committee, young adult director and Ocean View young adult secretary.

-Biography information courtesy of NAACP

Kathryn Jacewicz is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at kjacewicz@brunswickbeacon.com