Instead of just sitting down to a plate of spaghetti, Buck Story walked into a surprise roast at Monday's Democratic Party dinner.
His fellow members of the Columbia County Democratic Committee roasted him and presented him with the inaugural Roast Award during the dinner at Harlem United Methodist Church.
"I thought, 'who would name their son Buck,' " committee Chairman Rosemary Fitzpatrick said, recalling sitting next to Story at her first meeting in 2000. "Everyone who was present would ask Buck for his comments and clarification on particular issues, not knowing that at the time how much of an important person he was to this county's party."
The county party honored Story for a lifetime of service, leadership and his commitment to his family, church and community.
Story, a lifelong resident of Harlem, has run several businesses in the city over the years, including a service station, appliance store and flower and gift shop. He worked for Columbia County Emergency Medical Services, sold insurance and worked as a buyer, which he still does every fall, for Tracy-Luckey Pecan Co.
Story also served on the Columbia County Commission 1962-68 and 1973-77, as well as the Harlem City Council 1970-71. Story has been active in his church and his community as a member of the Harlem Jaycees, Rotary Club and Lions Club. He served the city as a volunteer firefighter for 27 years and is chair of the White Oak Campground Board of Trustees.
"This is really a surprise," Story said after being awarded a plaque. "I appreciate this very much. I'll tell you what, there's a lot of people in this room that deserve this more than I do."
Story was surprised to see his son, Rick Story, a federal judge in Atlanta, at the dinner.
"I think you are honoring a man quite worthy of the honor," Rick Story said of his father, who referred to him as the only person with whom he can still talk politics. "He is a man of integrity, who has taught the real lessons of life throughout his life, who has been real dedicated to this party in a time when the tide is rushing over him many times."
State party chairman Jane Kidd attended the meeting, stating she knew the evening was to honor a special person. Kidd praised Story's dedication to the party and the local committee, which he served as chairman of for many years. She asked for all Democrats to embrace a grassroots attitude and volunteer to help other Democrats campaign in difficult districts.
"It is the kind of thing Buck Story would have done and will do," Kidd said. "He's a good Democrat. He believes in the issues. He believes in the right thing, and he has a heart as good as gold."
R. Terry Holley, the chairman of the Democratic party's 10th congressional district and former party chair, said he grew up in Harlem knowing Story, whom he described as a yellow dog Democrat.
Rick Story said his father, who he said is very stubborn, taught him to address needs as they arise and to stick by what you believe.
"The gifts he provided us were not material or money, but the character and the person he is," Rick Story said. "I honor you for honoring him. You chose a person I feel is a great American, a great human being and one that I am proud to call my father."
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