Audrey Eller is known throughout Thomson as the "Flower Lady."
It's a name that was pinned on her following her retirement from the City of Thomson when she started taking care of the flower gardens owned by the city and tending the ones located at the city-owned Westview Cemetery. She began working as a utility billing clerk for the city in 1974 and eventually became finance director and city clerk before her retiring in 1992.
For the past 16 years, Mrs. Eller has beautified downtown with her year-round flower gardens.
During the 37th Annual Thomson-McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce held at Belle Meade Country Club on Tuesday night, the "Flower Lady" brought 180 people to their feet on two occasions.
The first rousing ovation was when she was announced the recipient of the chamber's prestigious Darrell Johnson Award. Making the announcement was former Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, Jr.
"I can't think of a more selfless person who loved his community more than Darrell did," said Mr. Knox before Mrs. Eller was announced this year's most highly honored recipient. "Anything that was good in the community, Darrell Johnson was involved in it. So, this award is named in his honor very well. And this year's recipient fits that mold as well as anybody I can think of - Audrey Eller."
Mrs. Eller, who was lured to the banquet under the pretense that she was doing her former boss, Bob Flanders, a personal favor, said she couldn't believe that she had been named the recipient of the Darrell Johnson Award.
"I don't deserve this award," lamented Mrs. Eller. "Darrell Johnson was such a good man. I just wish my husband was here tonight, because he worked about 30 years for Darrell Johnson and he knew what kind of man Darrell was. And I know he's up in heaven now smiling down on us here."