Rantin: Leaders’ spouses honored for their supportive roles

brantin@thestate.com (803) 771-8306May 3, 2013 

— They are noted for their often unheralded acts of service, but the 12 Columbia area women will be front and center this weekend when The Columbia Urban League holds its annual Guild Tower Leadership Award recognition ceremony.

The award acknowledges the contributions made by the spouses of some of Columbia’s foremost civic and community leaders.

“This honor recognizes the tremendous community contributions made by these often behind-the-scenes women, who themselves contribute significantly to the overall quality of life of the Palmetto State through their own community work,” said Urban League president James T. McLawhorn. “In addition, they play a pivotal role in supporting their husbands’ efforts to fulfill their responsibilities as leaders in the Midlands.”

The Tower Award was established last year by the Urban League Guild, a volunteer auxiliary of the organization. It was inspired by the late Ava Austin, a former Urban League Board member and spouse of former Columbia police chief and city manager Charles B. Austin.

McLawhorn said the award is significant because it recognizes an important group of people who often go unnoticed but whose contributions have enhanced quality of life in the community.

“The Tower Leadership Award recognizes the uniqueness of leadership and that it is usually not a solo endeavor but a partnership shouldered equally by the spouse along with the husband leader,” McLawhorn said. “The 2013 Tower Award recipients are career professionals themselves, yet they have the uncanny ability to balance work and family while still maintaining impressive portfolios of community service as well.”

This year’s honorees include Leslie Archie (wife of Charles Archie), Cynthia Bennett (James Bennett), Katherine Davis (Clarence Davis), Beverly Gist (Bobby Gist), Saundra Glover (Sam Glover) Helen Grant (Tony Grant), Clara Langley (Willis Langley), Shirley Mills (Heyward Bannister), Thelma Salmond (Jasper Salmond), Joan Scott (John Scott), Patricia Swinton (David Swinton) and Sally Tryon (Ron Tryon).

The 12 women will be honored during an awards luncheon Saturday in Columbia.

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