Citizen of the year: Joan McFather
by Rebecca Johnston
January 24, 2014 12:04 AM | 3344 views | 1 1 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Here, Cherokee Chamer of Commerce CEO Pam Carnes speaks about the 2014 First Citizen Award winner Joan McFather during Thursday's lunch. Joan is joined on stage by her daughter Sarah for the award ceremony. Staff/Todd Hull
Here, Cherokee Chamer of Commerce CEO Pam Carnes speaks about the 2014 First Citizen Award winner Joan McFather during Thursday's lunch. Joan is joined on stage by her daughter Sarah for the award ceremony. Staff/Todd Hull
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Cherokee County First Citizen Award winner Joan McFather speaks to Chamber members during Thursday’s lunch.
Cherokee County First Citizen Award winner Joan McFather speaks to Chamber members during Thursday’s lunch.
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CANTON — A community volunteer and former educator who has touched thousands of lives in Cherokee County through her efforts was honored Thursday as the 39th annual First Citizen of Cherokee County.

Canton resident Joan McFather joined a prestigious list of former recipients to receive the award presented by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce designed to honor meritorious service to the community.

McFather taught English for 30 years at Cherokee High School prior to retiring, and has devoted thousands of hours to community service through dozens of organizations such as the Service League of Cherokee County, Cherokee FOCUS, the Cherokee Arts Center and Juvenile Court Citizens Review Panel.

Cherokee Chamber President and CEO Pam Carnes said in making the presentation at the Chamber’s annual luncheon that in reviewing all the organizations McFather had helped, it was quite evident why the judges chose her.

Carnes also pointed to McFather’s character and commitment as reasons for her being chosen for the honor.

“Words that come to mind to describe this year’s recipient are kind, generous, honest, volunteer, teacher, and parent,” Carnes said in the presentation.

In accepting the award, McFather said it was an overwhelming compliment and she appreciated it tremendously.

“I am just so appreciative and this means so much to me,” McFather said.

Cherokee County Commissioner Harry Johnston presented a proclamation naming Jan. 23 as Joan McFather Day in the county in honor of the award recipient.

“There is no one more deserving than Joan,” he said.

Longtime friend and former First Citizen recipient JoEllen Wilson said McFather taught her how to be a good friend.

“I would select Joan any day in the week for this award because she is so giving, and she never wants anything in return. She is one of those people you can depend on no matter what. She doesn’t make excuses; she just gets things done,” Wilson said. “She is so passionate about what she believes in, and if she believes in it and if I am on her team that transfers to me.”

Jane Shelnutt praised McFather for the many organizations where she has made a difference.

“She is so passionate about what she believes in, and if she believes in it and if I am on her team that transfers to me.”

Jane Shelnutt praised McFather for the many organizations where she has made a difference.

“It is amazing how many different organizations have benefited from this recipient,” Shelnutt said in the video presentation as part of the award presentation. “This person has been on so many boards, and she is the kind of person who always asks, ‘What can I do? I don’t know anyone who volunteers more.’”

Among her many volunteer efforts, McFather has served on the Cherokee Community Chorale board; Cherokee County Retired Educators Association, where she was chairman; Cherokee County Juvenile Court: Citizens Foster Care Review Panels, where she was chairman; Cherokee County Arts Council Board of Directors, where she was president from 2002 to 2004 and as a member of the Advisory Board; and the Cherokee County Master Gardeners, where she is now secretary.

She volunteers as a docent at the Funk Heritage Center, was on the Cherokee FOCUS Board of Directors from 2001 to 2012, and served as chairman for two years; and served on the Sequoyah Regional Library Board of Directors.

She is active in the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, where she has been a member for 10 years, a Chamber Connection member and on the Chairman’s Council for seven years.

She has served on the Chamber Education Committee, as Cherokee PIGNIC sub-chair, was Volunteer of the Year in 2010, on the Board of Directors from 2011 to 2014 and on the Teen Leadership Committee in 2013.

McFather was a 2003 Leadership Cherokee graduate and served on the Cherokee County Court Appointed Special Advocates Board of Directors for six years.

The new First Citizen has received a number of other awards in the community, including the Rotary Club of Canton’s 2001 Jean Harris Award, the 2004 Community Service Award — Cherokee FOCUS; the 2004 Liberty Bell Award from the Blue Ridge Bar Association; and the 2005 Volunteer of the Year Award — Cherokee FOCUS.

She worked for the Cherokee County Board of Education for 30 years, until her retirement in 2000, and was a teacher, department head and teacher support specialist in that time.

She designed and implemented the original Honors Program at high school level for the county, and advised numerous groups including the award-winning Mock Trial Team and Academic Team.

As a teacher she also directed main stage and one-act competition plays and musicals and was chosen as STAR teacher seven times. In 2000 she received the Outstanding Educator award.

She is a lifetime member of the Canton Jaycettes and an honorary member of the Service League of Cherokee County.

She has served on the YMCA Board of Directors and in 2008 was honored with the YMCA Caring About the Community Award.

In 2009 she was awarded the Rotary Club of Canton’s Lamar Haley Community Service Award and in 2011 the Reinhardt University Talon Award: President’s Award

She is also active in all levels at her church, Canton First United Methodist Church.

McFather was born and raised on Long Island, N.Y., and moved to Canton in 1965. She has two grown daughters.

Many praised her for her work with her students.

“She touched thousands of students’ lives in a positive way,” said former student Misti Martin, Cherokee County economic development director.



Comments
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Tony Reece
|
January 25, 2014
Brava! We are surrounded by "everyday heroes". Mrs. McFather certainly deserves to be recognized as one.

While it's been a very long time since I sat in her classroom, the "feeling" that that experience left me with is one of warmth, care, high expectation, value. Mrs. McFather made so many of us feel important. We were important to her and, as a result, I'm certain that many left her feeling more important to themselves.

One's skills with one's own language allow self-expression. Joan McFather encouraged us to hone our skills and to use them.

Is there any higher calling?
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