Photos by Robert Dementi
On Thursday, June 8, one particular ballroom inside the Salem Civic Center was filled with Salem Club Rotarians and area residents to honor Bob Southard, this year’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year recipient.
A combination of factors distinguished Bob from the other nominees including being nominated by Mac & Bob’s co-owner Bob Rotanz.
“Much of what he does is behind the scenes,” current President Lisa Garst said. “I believe the committee was eager to recognize his lifelong commitment to helping others and supporting causes that often fly under the radar.”
Known for acknowledging important people in his life, Bob referenced several names during his acceptance speech. “I’m humbled and I’m honored. I would like to thank all of my friends here today. I feel truly blessed that you all are part of my life,” he said. “One person I would certainly like to thank is my wife Sarah along with our children. They have been there with me every step of the way. “
Rotary is a network of approximately 1.2 million men and women nationwide. Since 1955 the motto of The Salem Rotary Club has been “Service Above Self”.
Donating dictionaries to third graders every year in addition to providing shopping opportunities for underprivileged children are just two examples of how the local organization consisting of local leaders, problem-solvers and friends make a difference in the community. “I understand ‘Service Above Self’ but if there is one person in this room why truly does that, it’s my wife Sarah,” Bob said.
“We organize and run Olde Salem Days in cooperation with the City of Salem. We also work and support the ODAC basketball tournament. These two events are our largest fundraisers,” Garst said. “This last year, we returned $76,000 in grants back to community organizations such as Apple Ridge Farm, Salem/Roanoke County Food Pantry, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.”
Brian Hoffman, Bob’s friend of many years, was not surprised that he was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year. “He’s a stand-up guy. If he gives me his word on something that’s all you need. He’s also the most generous person I have ever met,” said the Salem Times – Register sports editor. “He’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it or asked him for it, and I’m not exaggerating. “He doesn’t do things for recognition but only out of the goodness of his heart, which is very big.”