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Chicken and charity. Those are two words that often come to mind when thinking about Christy Proctor, the 2019 Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
“Thank you for this evening. Thank you for this award,” she said. “I am very honored.”
The Pikeville native has owned a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Wilson for 25 years and in October, her dream of operating two restaurants came true with the opening of Chick-fil-A’s second Wilson location at 5100 Raleigh Road Parkway W. It was the day of the ribbon-cutting that Wilson Chamber of Commerce President Ryan Simons told her she’d been selected for the organization’s highest honor and Proctor admitted she thought it was a mistake.
Tracy Wellington, director of community for Chick-fil-A in Wilson, opted to use the alphabet to describe many of Proctor’s qualities including brave, candid, ethical, generous and humble.
“Of course, she is a leader in every sense of the word,” Wellington said. “She is magnanimous, which is Latin for ‘great soul’ and she doesn’t hold grudges, even if we think she should sometimes.”
Proctor is well known throughout the community not only for serving up popular poultry, but for giving back in a big way. Each year she hosts countless fundraisers for various groups and eight years ago, she decided to commemorate going over the hill with Bucks for Backpacks — an annual school supply drive for Wilson students.
Proctor used several stories from her life to impart lessons on the crowd, including one from when she was just 9 as she worked in the tobacco fields and her grandmother would buy her candy to eat on breaks. Without fail, Proctor would share the candy and get scolded by her grandma, who threatened to not buy her any more if she didn’t stop sharing.
“The third day, she gave me candy and said, ‘I bought it for you, but I know you’re going to give it away,’” Proctor recalled. “The moral to that story is to be generous, even if you don’t think you’re going to get any more.”
Proctor’s spirit of generosity has not let up and she continually seeks to share her blessings with others .
“She is a valuable member of this community and I know we are thankful she chose Wilson,” Wellington said while reciting her “ABCs of Christy Proctor.”
The 96th annual gathering of business leaders sponsored by Wilson Medical Center also served as the opportunity for chamber Chairwoman Anita Turnage Jones to turn the gavel over to Heather Driver. Jones served for 16 months due to her predecessor relocating, but the chamber made significant strides during her tenure including rebranding and receiving accreditation.
“Our chamber president is a shining example of leadership who has led his staff with vision and tenacity to make it all happen,” Jones said, referring to Ryan Simons.
Driver has been working in Wilson for CopyPro for 11 years, initially serving as an ambassador before graduating from Dynamic Leadership Wilson — now known as the Chamber Executive Academy — and serving on the chamber’s executive board. She highlighted recent chamber advances such as the launch of a podcast and an app for members.
“There has never been a better time to do business in Wilson, North Carolina,” she said.
The chamber also honored Frank Eagles, the civic leader and retired Wilson Community College president. Eagles received the Lifetime Membership Award.