Johnny Bagwell and Beverly Beaman Adams shared the same halls at Garner High School in the 1960s. Now they are together again as the 2015 recipients of the James R. Stevens Service to Garner award.
The award is given annually to people who have made substantial, outstanding contributions to Garner over a significant number of years.
Bagwell’s ties to the community go back much further than his days at the high school, which is now the North Garner Middle School campus.
Bagwells have farmed in the area for decades. J.J. Bagwell was among the first aldermen elected in 1905 in the newly chartered community.
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One family story is about one of the Bagwell women standing in the doorway of Ebenezer Methodist Church, holding an ax and defying the Union troops to attempt to burn her church.
The Bagwells have nestled along the Neuse River for decades. Emmitt Bagwell, Johnny’s father, was a classmate and basketball teammate of James Stevens, for whom the award is named.
Adams wasn’t born in Garner, but has served its citizens for more than 40 years.
“Her service and leadership have touched many people and fostered the success of numerous organizations in Garner and throughout the state,” said Karen Padgett, who nominated Adams.
Bagwell and Adams have served in different ways.
In 1979, Bagwell spurned many offers to practice medicine in different states to return to his hometown as a family physician. He opened a practice on Main Street in a building once occupied by Drs. Lloyd and Vassey, and just down the street from where Garner icon Dr. J.S. Buffaloe once practiced medicine.
Bagwell’s practice grew until it was one of the largest in Wake County, providing care to more than 60,000 patients as Garner Family Practice.
He was active in the Garner Rotary Club from 1979 through 1998, serving as president in 1994. He also was involved in N.C. Academy of Family Physicians and was president of the group in 1992.
Bagwell, who retired from his practice in 2013, was a charter member of the Wake Education Foundation and worked with Rex Todd and the Town of Garner to help save the old Garner High School, the building where his father and Stevens attended school.
The old school now houses the town’s cultural heartbeat, the Garner Performing Arts Center.
For years, Bagwell and his staff volunteered to give complimentary preseason physical to Garner High athletes and he attended every varsity football game.
Athletics is one of the few fields in which Adams hasn’t played a prominent role in Garner.
She often has worked near, but outside the spotlight.
Her civic involvement began with the Garner Jaycettes in the 1970s, soon after graduating from Garner High in 1968. During her year as Jaycee president, the club was named among the top five chapters in the state.
She became involved with the Miss Garner Pageant in 1975 when the Jaycees were the sponsor. She later was a charter member of the Miss Garner Scholarship Pageant Committee. She then became executive director of the Miss North Carolina organization.
She accompanied 18 Miss North Carolinas to Atlantic City, including Dana Stephenson Dixon and Lisa Bamford, a couple of Miss Garners who won the state title.
Adams remains active in the Miss America program and has judged the Miss Virginia, Miss Wyoming and Miss Nebraska pageants.
She also has been active in supporting the arts. She works with Broadway Voices through the Garner Chamber of Commerce and previously was a board member of the Towne Players of Garner.
She wears many hats, including as a docent at the Executive Mansion and as a part of the Garner YMCA’s “We Build People” campaign. She also serves on various Town of Garner committees.
“Beverly represents the best of what Garner is about: service to community, service in one’s career, service to family, and service to friends and neighbors,” Padgett said.
Tim Stevens: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the award
The Stevens Award is named for James R. Stevens, who was a long-time councilman and civic leader.
This is the 28th annual recognition. A reception will be held in their honor at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 18 in Bulding B at Town Hall. A recognition ceremony will follow at 7 p.m. during the town council meeting.