By JOSEPH HAMRICK
More than 300 people were in attendance Thursday night to congratulate Dixie Turman winning the Commerce Chamber of Commerce 2012 Citizen of the Year.
The event was staged in the Rayburn Student Center ballrooms on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus.
According to Turman, who works with State Farm Insurance, the award came as a complete surprise.
“I’m speechless, just speechless,” she said after receiving the award.
Turman was described as “selfless” and “giving to all” by outgoing Commerce Chamber of Commerce Board President Ladonna Patterson.
The guest speaker for the night, Noah Nelson, former NBC correspondent who covered two presidential elections and the invasion of Panama, said it wasn’t the presidents or diplomats, but the ordinary people he met that made the most difference in his life.
“My grandfather had a strange business practice, he would give stuff away,” he said, adding that he would change flat tires and give people an extra gallon of gas for free. “I asked him why he gave stuff away and he told me ‘Because I can’t take it home with me.’ I didn’t realize then but he was talking about a higher home.”
According to Nelson, he thought his grandfather would go bankrupt by giving things away as he did, but later he found out that when he passed, his grandfather’s business had no debts and was able to continue to be ran by the family.
Another ordinary person he said made a difference, was an ordinary woman who changed the face of America by her silent protest.
When he was living in Los Angeles with his wife, he received a call from a friend who begged him to drive over quickly and have dinner with them.
“I got to his house and sitting in their living room was “the” Rosa Parks,” he said, adding that he didn’t expect the response she gave when he asked her if she knew what was going to happen when she refused to get up and move to the back of the bus on Dec. 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Ala. “I thought about it, but I just did what I thought was right.”
Nelson said her words have stuck with him through the years.
“How many times do we miss the chance to make a difference because we don’t see it?” he said.