This week I decided to tell you about an award received by one of our most amazing High Pointers, Bob Brown!

Now as you know Bob Brown spent time in Washington serving as special advisor to President Nixon (whom he still speaks lovingly of to this day). Brown even serves on the board of the Richard Nixon Foundation. He was also great friends with Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Bobby Kennedy. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Horatio Alger Award. Did you know that High Point’s three Horatio Alger Award recipients serve on their Board of Directors? First of all, it is incredible (rare) to have three High Pointers (or any city) inducted into that organization of distinguished Americans and to have all three on their Board of Directors is well, let’s just say wonderful.

They are Tom Haggai as Chairman Emeritus, HPU President Nido Qubein as a board member, and Brown serving on the executive committee. On a side note (with a smile) Brown is a very good friend of Oprah (no last name needed). The point being that Brown, who grew up on a dirt road near Washington Street, could have chosen to live anywhere, but he always says, “I don’t want to live anywhere else but High Point.” Thank goodness. He now also serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees at High Point University.

Brown, who started his career as a policeman, is the third High Pointer to receive the Business Leaders Hall of Fame Distinction by Junior Achievement of the Triad. Qubein was the second and can you guess the third? Of course, it was Mr. “About Town” Jim Morgan. The event was held at the Greensboro Swarm Fieldhouse. Along with Brown, Kathy Manning was also honored.

Steve Swetoha, team president of the Swarm and Junior Achievement vice-chair, welcomed everyone and said, “We are very excited to recognize Robert J. Brown and Kathy Manning tonight. Junior Achievement is critically important to this community and to the Triad. The continued growth of the Triad depends on the next generation. Inspiring their tomorrows starts now and we cannot wait. Supporting, guiding and impacting our students in the Triad is an opportunity that we should all seize.”

Should I say this? I did not see any (to my knowledge) High Pointers listed on their lengthy Board of Directors list.

Junior Achievement involves community business role models delivering lessons about how money, careers and business ownership work to give children confidence about their future. Junior Achievement business volunteers are the catalysts to inspire attitudes for success.

A short video about Brown’s life was played that included a few comments from his friends. Qubein said, “I’m proud to call Bob Brown my mentor and my friend. Bob Brown has dedicated his life as a businessperson, as a civil rights leader, as an American who has counselled presidents, what it means to live life from the inside out (from the heart).”

Paul Fulton, former CEO of Sara Lee, former dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School of UNC Chapel Hill and former President of Bassett Furniture (whew!) said, “Bob is a unique individual. Bob is about motivating and inspiring young people. What he has done to educate the children in Africa with his book program is incredible,” Ned Covington said. “I think Dr. Brown wakes up every day and says, ‘What can I do today that was more and better than yesterday?’ ”

In addition, Brown holds 11 honorary doctorate degrees (including HPU) and six national achievement awards.

Brown went to the podium to accept the award. In his soft-spoken manner he said, “We had a difficult time growing up because nothing was open to us. I couldn’t go buy a hotdog or a soft drink. There was nothing open to me as a kid. I decided early on, as my grandmother used to tell me, I was going to go out there and help my own people and help people in the community. I didn’t care if they were black, white, Jewish or whatever they were. I tried to dedicate my life to that. So tonight, I am grateful. I am grateful to Junior Achievement for what it has done. It is a magnificent organization. We need to keep lifting up our young people. We all need to work together to make that happen. I pledge to do what I can. It’s like what my grandma used to tell me, ‘Bobby, life is all about giving and serving. It is not about what you have.’ This organization is about lifting up each other. Let’s plant these seeds.”

This column is High Point-based, however Kathy Manning is very impressive also, so here is a bit about her. She is a graduate of Harvard (wow!) and then she earned her law degree from the University of Michigan (another wow!) She has held leadership positions within numerous organizations, including United Way, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the National Conference for Community and Justice, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Manning also served on the Bennett College Re-Engineering Committee and helped spearhead the effort to build the Greensboro Children’s Museum, Triad Stage, and the new Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

Congratulations Bob Brown and Kathy Manning.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Now more than ever, our community matters. Neighbors helping and checking on neighbors. Loving one another. This is High Point.

MARY BOGEST is an artist and writer who resides in High Point | MSBogest@aol.com.

MARY BOGEST is an artist and writer who resides in High Point | MSBogest@aol.com.