Citizen of the Year: Lark humbled, grateful for recognition
Dr. Marion Lark said he was surprised. For at least once in his life, few in the room could fully agree with him.
Lark was named Citizen of the Year at the 76th annual Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and banquet Monday evening. With his wife of 56 years, Jean, by his side, he got another surprise when he turned to see son Jonathan and wife Reba on stage behind him.
“It’s a humbling experience to be in a place for 38 years, and people get to know you, from the public standpoint being in a job which is very open to the public, for them to know me pretty well personally and publicly and still want to recognize me in this way,” Lark said. “It’s indeed a humbling experience to have your fellow citizens nominate and elect me among many others who are so worthy, and others more worthy than I.
“But I am grateful for the privilege of having this recognition, and I will do my best to honor it for the rest of my life.”
Jeannie Amos, their daughter, and husband John and son Ian sent congratulations from their home in Florida.
The evening also included the announcement of two other awards.
The Henderson Optimist Club was honored with the Shining Moment in Education award, which recognizes contributions of the most outstanding business, organization, church, civic or community group or individual supporting Vance County Schools in 2013-’14.
The inaugural Ambassador of the Year award was presented to Clareese Moss.
The Citizen of the Year selection is made by an anonymous committee honoring an individual for volunteer work to make the community a better place to live. Last year’s winner Dr. Bev Tucker made the presentation, and Lark said that made the moment even more special.
In presenting Lark, Tucker said, “He truly is a gentleman, well-known throughout Henderson and Vance County for his strong faith in God and who enthusiastically demonstrates his love of community.”
Tucker said Lark had dedicated his life to the betterment of Vance County, transformed the lives of many and provided exceptional leadership in problem solving, always remaining a gentleman in the most testing of circumstances.
He said the words “caring, compassionate and committed” were frequently used to describe Lark.
“He humbly gives God the glory for the work that has been done and is quick to thank others,” Tucker said.
Lark is credited with coining the acronym for Area Christians Together in Service and is a founding member of the organization. He’s served on numerous boards, including Henderson’s Downtown Development Commission, Perry Memorial Library Foundation and the Henderson Family YMCA.
He was also influential in the planning process and implementation of Community Care Partners, recognized as a Community Care of North Carolina program affiliate.
“Getting it from Bev, I didn’t know of anybody I’d rather accept it from than Bev Tucker,” Lark said. “He is such an inspiration since his illness was diagnosed, and he has been a real trooper. I go by for him and take him to the board meetings of the YMCA, then go by and get him for Rotary and take him home. Through his illness over this past year, and his keeping on as he has, we’ve become closer than we ever were. And that was close already.”
Others at the event said Lark earned the recognition.
“It was a wonderful choice and could not have been more well-deserved,” said Wayne Adcock, who has served with Lark in several roles. “He has contributed so much to this community through his service at the First Baptist Church, but then since his retirement, all the things he has been involved in. And he’s done so much for us at the Y, with ACTS — he’s an amazing individual.”
And still quick, too. After accepting the award, guest speaker Gov. Pat McCrory injected good-natured humor on his appearance reminding of Dick Van Dyke, to which the veteran from the pulpit replied, “I’m just glad it’s not Gomer Pyle.”
And the governor and the audience, a record 500-plus, roared in laughter.
“I love this community,” Lark said told the audience. “I’ve been here since 1973, and the First Baptist Church has been my home as far as religion is concerned, and I have tried to be not just in that church, but a part of the larger community. And as I have attempted to embrace the community I can honestly say that you as a community, as a business community, as a religious community and in other ways, have embraced my family and me, and indeed I am so grateful for you and for our community. This is home to us.”
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