"A recognition of exceptional service" could be an understatement in this case, even though it's the basis of the Paul Harris Fellow Award.
The award is presented by Rotary International to Rotarians who "demonstrate significant support for the work of the Rotary Foundation" and make a single contribution of at least $1,000 to a Rotary project, according to the foundation's website. In the Thomson Rotary Club last Thursday, Jim, Epp, Bob and Glenn Wilson jointly presented the Paul Harris Fellow Award to Marion Culpepper, who worked in their families' businesses through the years. Today, Mr. Culpepper continues a successful real estate career at The Wilson Co. in Thomson.
"Marion Culpepper is a valuable asset to me and our organization. He is my mentor, confidant and my friend. When you think of a Southern gentleman, Marion Culpepper fits every description," Bob Wilson said.
Jim Wilson told how Mr. Culpepper approached Mr. Wilson's uncle in 1972 looking for a job in sales. Being told there were no vacancies did not deter Mr. Culpepper, who was hired two weeks later by Wilson Homes after he'd brought them a list of 15 potential sales. He ended up selling 96 homes his first 10 months with Wilson Homes.
The Paul Harris Award is not Mr. Culpepper's first award. In fact, he will have to find space to hang it on his wall among all the other plaques. Mr. Culpepper is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Club in real estate, having achieved this distinction for 14 years. He has six Circle of Excellence Awards, and Salesman of the Year awards from the Classic South Board of Realtors.
"Although those honors are nice to receive, Marion's main goal is to help people fulfill their dreams of owning their own home," Epp Wilson said. "He excels at matching the buyer to the best property for them and facilitating all aspects of the sale to make it a pleasant process for them."
Mr. Culpepper has been a valuable member of the Thomson community by serving on boards and committees with United Way, Red Cross, the Thomson-McDuffie County Library, Leadership McDuffie, Habitat for Humanity, the Thomson-McDuffie Museum and Relay For Life.
"It's no doubt Marion Culpepper has succeeded," Bob Wilson said. "He's a very smart business man. He is made of ambition and integrity. For 36 years, (I've had the honor of rubbing) shoulders with this solid citizen and great American."
Mr. Culpepper's mother, sister, wife, children and co-workers attended the ceremony, which was kept a secret until his name was announced.
"I think I was definitely surprised," he said afterwards. "I can usually smell a rat, and I can't figure out how they got this one past me."