The town hall meeting room was packed. Every seat was filled and many people stood. But it wasn’t because there was a hot item on the town council’s agenda last week.
The crowd was there to support Beverly Adams and Johnny Bagwell, who were the co-recipients of the 2015 James R. Stevens’ award.
“I was just very humbled that folks came out and were happy for our success,” Adams, 65, said. “That just made the award to be even more special for us. Honestly if you can’t share it with people who helped you win an honor like this, I think it is diminished.”
Bagwell, 67, said the same.
“It makes you grateful for your roots and where you grew up in your hometown,” Bagwell said.
The award is Garner’s most prestigious, named after former alderman and civic leader James Stevens, who served on the town board for 24 years between 1963-1987. Known most for his service to the community, the award goes to someone “who has made substantial, outstanding contributions to the Town of Garner over a period of years.”
Bagwell and Adams are both natives of Garner.
Bagwell was a family physician in his hometown when most discouraged him from doing so.
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 and his staff volunteered to give complimentary preseason physical to Garner High athletes.
“One of the things that we are told in residency training, is we shouldn’t go back home to practice because they say ‘people there will remember you as a little boy that broke out a window,’” Bagwell said. “But I met with Garner people and I realized they only had two physicians there, and I made a decision to go back home to practice.
“And 30 to 40 years I can say it was the right decision.”
Adams has worked for the General Assembly for 36 years.
Her service started with Garner Jaycettes in the 1970s. She then became involved with the Miss Garner Pageant in 1975 and over the years graduated to executive director of the Miss North Carolina organization.
She serves 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.
Adams said she was honored to win the award and it will be displayed proudly in her home.
“To me (the award) means that I need to continue to give back to the community,” Adams said. “It’s for long time service. I don’t think you can win an award like this and just stop. It inspires me to do more and continue to make Garner the best place in our state.”