A man who has long been dedicated to his family and his community - helping veterans, honoring public safety’s finest, coaching kids and making sure visitors to the Cherokee County Fair have a great time each year, among many other good deeds - has been named Cherokee First Citizen for 2019. Raymond Rollins’ selection was announced Thursday afternoon at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.
Rollins, 70, was nominated and selected for the honor by a panel of evaluators from outside Cherokee County, as is the custom for the annual award.
New Chamber Board Chairman John Barker and Chamber President and CEO Pam Carnes kicked off the presentation with a short video, at the end of which the name of the recipient would be revealed.
Rollins knew he was the First Citizen within seconds of the video starting as his wife, daughter and young grandson Joshua spoke of their appreciation for him. They and others also spoke of a selfless attitude that has led him to helping countless others, especially local veterans.
In addition to his family, friends, such as Earl Darby told of Rollins’ compassion for others.
“When I saw the nomination for our recipient, I thought it was a typical one like I’ve seen many times before,” Carnes said during the presentation. “Then, I realized it was by his grandson Joshua, who you saw on the video.”
Cherokee County Commission Chairman Harry Johnston presented Rollins with a proclamation honoring his status as First Citizen, while Barker presented him with a crystal award.
Offered the opportunity to address the audience of several hundred people, Rollins declined, waving to the crowd and accepting hugs from a large group of family and friends who came for the presentation.
The title of First Citizen of Cherokee County is presented each year to someone who has, “shown significant meritorious service to his/her community through family, civic and/or religious involvement,” the Chamber said in a statement about the award.
Rollins was raised in Waleksa, attended R.M. Moore School and gra-uated from Cherokee High School.
He retired from a career that included stints in law enforcement, unit administrator for the Georgia National Guard and division manager for the Department of Veterans Services.
Rollins is a longtime Mason, member of the American Legion, serving as commander of the local chapter for 16 years.