Karen Brantley, Loyd Mobley Named Citizens of the Year
Two people known for exemplary service to their community on multiple levels were honored on March 29 at the 74th Annual Vidalia Citizens of the Year Banquet. Hailed as a tireless volunteer and catalyst for positive change, Karen Brantley was named the 2021 Lady of the Year. Vidalia City Councilman Loyd Mobley, who has supported his community as a “servant leader” in a wide range of capacities, was honored as 2021 Man of the Year. The event was held at the Vidalia Community continued from page
Center and was sponsored by the Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions Clubs of Vidalia. A highlight of the evening was that men from the sponsoring organizations served meals to the guests.
As she introduced the 2021 Lady of the Year, last year’s recipient Pat Dixon, noted that the honoree is a woman who has set an “amazing example,” not just for her family but for other volunteers who might follow in her footsteps.
Dixon noted, “We are here tonight to recognize an extremely wonderful lady. A prayer warrior, a lady whose blood runs red and black (just in case you do not know, that’s a Georgia Bulldog supporter), and a grandmother that makes the world’s best pound cake.” A strong advocate for addressing issues related to domestic violence, Brantley chaired the committee to bring The Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter (then called Wings) to Vidalia. She still serves as a board member for that organization and has spoken to many organizations concerning the work of The Refuge in combating and responding to domestic violence.
Brantley has also been a proponent of education in the community, serving as a member of the Vidalia High School’s Booster Club and as a mentor for students in the Vidalia School System. Area students gained experience from being employed at her Sand Art Terrarium business. Invested in the area’s youth, she has also volunteered for both Brownies and Girl Scouts programs.
Active in civic affairs, Brantley has volunteered for the Vidalia Onion Festival and for special events for United Way. She is a member of the Highlander Society and was the first chair of the Power of the Purse Division of United Way. She still serves as cochair for that Division. She is also a member of the Vidalia Kiwanis Club.
Brantley’s charitable contributions include serving as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at Memorial Health Meadows Hospital and participating in the Tour of Homes.
Her spiritual life has also been active. She attends First Baptist Church and has served as a Youth Group Leader, as a member of the Praise Band and Choir, taught Bible studies, and participated in a mission trip to Russia. She is a founder of El Shaddai Church.
Brantley has been married to her husband, Wayne, for 46 years. The couple first met at the city pool where Wayne was a lifeguard and reconnected 15 years later when she attended an Indians football game to watch her younger brother, Doug, play ball.
The couple has five children: Kelly, Shannon, Allison, Tom and Helen, and nine grandchildren, who gathered with Brantley on stage as she was honored.
After receiving the award, Brantley commented, “I am past surprised. This was totally unexpected.” She said of her work with The Refuge, “So many people have worked together to help women and children who needed help.” She acknowledged that she shares the honor she received with her fellow Vidalians who have stepped up to work for the welfare of one another. “We are blessed beyond measure because we live in a community where people care. I know that we as a town are growing spiritually because we are learning how to love each other, how to help each other, and caring more than we ever have.”
Brantley’s granddaughter, Olivia Warnock, who was among those on stage when her grandmother was honored and who is serving as a board member for the Kiwanis Club, spoke of her grandmother’s legacy. “For me, she is a role model, and the footprints she has left in the community are far more than she realizes.”
In bestowing Mobley’s award, former Man of the Year recipient Gary Campbell, a 2002 recipient of the award, praised the 2021 honoree as a prime example of a “servant leader. “He is a leader in every measure. There are many examples of his leadership characteristics, but none more important than influencing others to live by higher standards and faith in the Lord,” Campbell said. He added with a chuckle, “And he keeps on serving. To put it in the vernacular, he is no spring chicken but his running gear is strong.”
Campbell continued, “He has had a meaningful, positive impact on his community through selfless involvement. Like so many fine leaders, he is happy to work in the background and never seek recognition for himself. Well, he is not in the background tonight.” Mobley and his wife, Dawn, have been members of and supported the community all of their lives, Campbell said. In fact, the couple has belonged to the same church since they were children. As a businessman, Mobley has held regional and national industry positions, and has gained the respect and appreciation of his peers and competitors not just within his professional role, but outside of it, Campbell said. “He has a unique ability to build a consensus, garner support, and cross the goal line,” Campbell added. Mobley is also a longtime supporter of youth, sports and recreation in Vidalia. He has been a member of the Vidalia Sports Boosters for 40 years, serving as that organization’s president for 12 years. He has been volunteering as a coach for 20 years, and has personally worked to improve the city’s sports facilities. He helped to build the Boy Scout Hut at the Recreation Complex, was instrumental in the initial work to build the current athletic fields at VHS, and worked with other community leaders to secure SPLOST funding for the city’s athletic fields. Mobley has been a member of the Kiwanis Club since 1991 and has served on the board and many committees including the Kiwanis Fair Committee, the Onion Run, Talent Showcase, and the Kiwanis Handicap Ramp Committee. The 2021 Man of the Year also served on the Vidalia Development Authority for 15 years, was a past member and chairman of the Sweet Onion Classic Committee, helped raise money for United Way Construction Committee and Corporate Gifts, and helped plan the Meadows Cancer Center. As Ward 4 City Councilman, Mobley brought 45 years of business experience to the Council upon election, and followed in the footsteps of his father, who was also a longtime city councilman. In his work with the City of Vidalia Mobley serves on many oversight committees, including construction and development, an area in which he has great insight and experience owing to his business background.
Mobley is an active member of Tabernacle Baptist Church where he has served as deacon and trustee for many years. He has been married to his wife, Dawn, for 49 years. They have two sons, Kevin and Page, and four grandchildren.
Following the ceremony, Mobley said he was “totally shocked,” when his name was called to walk up on stage. “I had no idea. It all hit me hard.” He reflected with humility, which those who know him say is one of his primary characteristics, “You do things all the time, and you don’t do it to get recognized; but it’s a wonderful feeling for people to recognize you. I appreciate it.”
Each “Citizen of the Year” should be a person of notable character with high ideas and principles, who has contributed his or her God-given talents, time, and possessions to improving Vidalia. The recipient shall be determined on the basis of services and benefits rendered to other people or other objectives over and beyond excellence in one’s own profession, business, or service enterprise, and extended over a period of not less than five years. He or she should be one who has a fairly consistent track record for accomplishments rather than being known for a single act of merit, and who has been motivated by unselfish desire to serve their fellow citizens.