Former Concordia Parish Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Webber has been named 2019 Concordian of the Year by the Concordia Chamber of Commerce.
Webber said the honor was a complete surprise.
"That came out of the blue," he said. "I am honored and tickled to death. I know some of the past winners and there are some good men and women on that list and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Since retiring from the clerk’s office, Webber said he and his wife Connie have made some visits to Oklahoma City, where his wife is from.
"Retirement is great other than being fenced in," he said. "We can't really do anything out of the ordinary. We do a lot of reading, talking and watching TV. We're looking forward to the inoculation where we might can get out and have some semi way of normal life."
The annual awards dinner was canceled because of COVID-19. Winners were announced weekly by the Chamber over the past two months.
"Even though we did not get to celebrate them with our annual awards dinner, we are thankful for their service to our parish," said Concordia Chamber Director Whitney Hedrick.
Concordia Chamber President Brian Chandler said this year's winners were deserving.
"These are individuals and businesses that have gone above and beyond for Concordia Parish," Chandler said. "Selflessness, grit, and determination are just a few of the words that come to mind when I look at these deserving people and places. 2020 was a trying year for all, and it was no exception for the Chamber of Commerce. We were all forced to acclimate and evolve to the hardships we faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. The board went back and forth multiple times on the issue if we should try and have an awards dinner like we have in the past. Unfortunately, like many events, we couldn’t do so. We still wanted to present the awards to the winners and had to be creative with doing that."
Chandler said early last year the board had voted to dedicate some of its budget toward social media marketing.
"The first time we promoted an event through our Facebook page we received upwards of 10,000 views of the post," he said. "After that, I think it was just sort of natural for the board to do something special for the winners and use our social media platforms to promote their achievement. Aimee Guido played a huge role in lining out the presentations as well as shooting the photos and videos. We have been very pleased with the response we have received so far on the presentations. The winners understood the circumstances. Looking ahead at our future awards dinner, this group will be recognized during part of the presentation also."
Webber served 55 years as clerk of court, longer than any other clerk in the state’s history, upon his retirement last year.
“I appreciate the people putting their trust in me over the years,” he said. “I have enjoyed the job.”
Webber was appointed as clerk in 1966 after the former clerk was removed from office. A few months after that, he was elected outright to serve the remainder of Victor Campbell’s term. Since then, he was re-elected clerk 13 times and faced opposition only four times.
Others honored by the chamber were Jeff Goeggle as Farmer of the Year; Catherine Cartwright with the first Guy Murray Award for Community Service; Vidalia High principal Bernie Cooley as Educator of the Year; Walter Mackel as First Responder of the Year; and Brookfield Renewable as Business of the Year.
Ater Warehouse received the 50-Year Award.