BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Try as he might, master of ceremonies Dave Sharpe was unable to talk someone into telling an unexpected story on Ellis “Buddy” Hooks as Hooks was recognized as the 2013 Edgecombe County Distinguished Citizen Award recipient by the Boy Scouts of America.
The award is given annually by the Boy Scouts to citizens who have made outstanding charitable contributions to the community and to Scouting.
"Buddy was chosen by a committee of people who believed that he is an outstanding citizen," said Tina Parker, a representative of East Carolina Council of Boy Scouts of America. "He has shown great leadership in the community. He is definitely the definition of a good citizen. And, he also understands scouting.”
Longtime Daily Southerner staff member Calvin Adkins, who worked with Hooks at the newspaper for a number of years, described him as “a happy-go-lucky spirit who brightens the lives of many people.”
Adkins told a story of Hooks wearing a new-but-too-big coat to work one day. Adkins, noting that he admired it, said Hooks asked if he wanted it — which he did.
Adkins said a day or two later, he wore a new pair of suede shoes to work and Hooks admired them.
“I asked him if he wanted them and he said ‘yes, but I never gave hem to him. Well, tonight, I’m making good on that as he held up a bag with a pair of shoes that he gave to Hooks.”
Betty Temple told of watching Hooks as his family grew and observing him as he worked within the community.
She noted that Hooks has always been available to help do whatever is needed in the community — from church to newspaper to arts council to Master Gardeners and, now, America in Bloom.
“Through his life of service to the town, he has helped make this a much better place.”
In accepting the award, a soft-spoken Hooks said, “I’m so honored to be here and so pleased with this honor.”
Hooks recited the Boy Scout Law and noted they were words to live with as he admitted he didn’t go far as a Scout.
“As we grow up, in our formative years, there are a number of words that we learn to live by,” he said. “In the first grade, there was the Golden Rule … there was the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments … things that form you.
Hooks, 66, is a Johnston County native. He moved to Tarboro in 1975 and began a 32-year career as the advertising manager for The Daily Southerner. Hooks resigned that post to accept the position as director of the Edgecombe County Arts Council. He held that position for five years before retiring. These days, Hooks spends his time as co-chairman of the American In Bloom organization, as an active member of the Tarboro Rotary Club and as a Master Gardener.
The East Carolina Council impacts more than 10,000 youths and more than 3,000 adult volunteers across 20 counties in North Carolina, including 14 troops in Edgecombe County.