Family members managed to keep Allen Boyette in the dark until he arrived at East Wake Academy for the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet Tuesday evening.
But that’s as far as the hush-hush lasted.
“When I said, ‘What are we doing here?’ they said, ‘You might be winning an award,’ ” Boyette recalled.
A few hours later, Boyette was winning his town’s top award as he was named Zebulon’s 2014 Citizen of the Year.
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As he introduced Boyette, Mayor Bob Matheny began describing someone who places a great premium on service – from involvement with scads of local youth sports teams to nearly 30 years serving the country.
Boyette, who moved to Zebulon in 1995, has coached, organized and promoted local youth athletics and been an active supporter of the town’s parks and recreation department. He continues to coach baseball at Zebulon Middle School and volunteer as a communications liaison for the baseball teams at East Wake High School.
He served in the Army on active duty with the 2nd Engineering Group in Korea, 7th Infantry Division, and the 82nd Airborne. He joined the North Carolina National Guard in 1994 and spent 18 months deployed in Iraq with the Guard. He still serves as a colonel in the Guard as Commander for the 60th Troop Command.
Matheny shared several quotes from letters nominating Boyette for the honor.
One read, “I am confident that Zebulon would be a lesser place without his presence with us and influence among us.” Another nominator stated, “He is very loyal, dedicated, and caring for what he holds precious in his life, which are his love of God and country, his beautiful wife and three sons, his family at large, his friends and the community in which he lives, Zebulon.”
And another read, “He embodies what it means to be a dedicated citizen of Zebulon, where public service and volunteering is a natural extension of his love and devotion to his family, church, country and community.”
Boyette’s acceptance speech was a short and sweet “Thank you.”
“The family and everybody was here tonight so it was pretty exciting,” he said after the dust settled a bit. “It’s just a great recognition. The Town of Zebulon is a great place to live, to volunteer. I think giving some time back is important, and I’ve done a lot of that and I’m just happy for it.”
The banquet is also the chamber’s time to recognize its top businesses and ambassadors and announce changes to its leadership from one year to the next.
Stephen Graham of Arby’s accepted the restaurant’s award after it was named the 2014 Business of the Year. Anna Corbett and Debbie Beavers were named Co-Ambassadors of the Year.
Three-time Zebulon Chamber President John Hanlon formally passed on the duty to Mike Almquist for 2015.
Retiring members of the chamber’s board of directors Sharon Chavis, Blake Lewis, Dalphine Perry and Tom Schmidt were also recognized, as were incoming board members Graham, David Berry and Sharon Davis.