In his 52nd year of community service, Sonny Craig named Citizen of the Year

March 24—When Sonny Craig started his first full-time job in 1970 at the old Central Bank of Decatur, he wasted no time volunteering for the United Way.

“Banks at that time were very interested in having their officers and trainees involved in the community. And that’s how it started, and it continued,” he said.

Over the next 52 years, the Decatur native’s volunteer efforts grew and led to him being honored for his community service Wednesday with the Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year Award from the County Chamber of Commerce. Decatur Morgan.

“It snowballed,” Craig said of his volunteering. “One thing led to another which led to another which led to another.”

Trudy Grisham, who received the award in 2006, nominated Craig for the honor this year. Grisham said she has worked with Craig on boards and committees for more than 40 years. Grisham said whenever Craig was asked to do something, he did it voluntarily, often serving on the board of organizations that were just getting started.

“He always said yes,” Grisham said. “And he didn’t just put his name on the letterhead. He works, and he participates and makes it a better committee or board.”

“The first thing on his mind was always: Is it going to be good for Decatur because he did it?” Grisham said.

She said Craig was always passionate about her service.

Craig, now retired, served as chairman of the board of the Carnegie Visual Arts Center, president of the Decatur-Morgan Chamber, and a member of the board of directors of the Morgan County Economic Development Association. He was on the founding committee of the River Clay Fine Arts Festival and still sits on the board of directors.

Craig also currently serves as the head of the St. John’s Episcopal Church Investment Committee and serves on the Alabama Center for the Arts Foundation.

Craig said his work on the ACA Board of Directors has been particularly rewarding.

“Alabama Center for the Arts has been really exciting – to see what can happen to Decatur, or what happened to Decatur.”

He said students come to the ACA from all over the state.

“Several graduate art students from Auburn and Alabama say nothing compares to this institution,” he said. “It’s state-of-the-art and we should be very proud of it.”

The award Craig received is named after Athelyne Banks, a Decatur educator for 42 years who has volunteered in the community. The award honors those whose lives reflect Banks’ dedication, service and loyalty to the city.

Noel King served with Craig on the founding committee of the River Clay Fine Arts Festival, the Carnegie Board of Trustees, and the ACA Board of Trustees.

“Sonny is truly a driven person who motivates others,” King said. “He’s a very positive person who helps others understand the good within the city and the community. … He’s really someone who is optimistic and helps to look to the future.

“He’s someone who really knows our community.”

Kim Mitchell, executive director of Carnegie, said Craig is a strong leader who brings positive guidance to any organization he works with. Mitchell said Craig helped guide the Carnegie into the future.

Craig said he wanted Decatur to have a strong future.

“With all the new things happening,” he said, “it’s really important that everyone gets involved in trying to make Decatur a better place to live.”

Craig said he was honored to receive the award and plans to continue volunteering in the community.

Also during lunch at the Doubletree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront, Bo Weinman received the Rosie Hennessy Commodore of the Year Room Award. Commodores are ambassadors for the chamber and their role is to volunteer in the community.

Weinman said he was thrilled and honored to receive the award and plans to remain active in the community. Weinman said volunteering for him was both personal and for his business. Weinman is an independent insurance adviser for the Peck-Glasgow agency.

“I do it (as a volunteer) more for community engagement, also laying a good foundation for my kids to teach them how important it is to be involved in the community you live in,” said Weinman.

[email protected] or 256-340-2460.

Jill E. Washington