PANAMA CITY, Fla. - For the last 20 years, leaders at Florida State University's Panama City campus have recognized a few alumni they're especially proud of.
On Tuesday night, four of them received "Notable 'Nole" awards.
Each year, FSU faculty, community members, and Notable 'Noles from previous years sort through the nominees and choose the new winners.
"When we look at the nominees, we look at their service to the community, to FSU, and to the country," Randy Hanna, the school's dean, said.
Major Ken Ayers, Dr. Jim Dever, Jody Walls, and Bay County's Tax Collector Chuck Perdue were the 2017 Notable 'Noles.
Chuck Perdue received an accounting degree from FSU Panama City. He is also a deacon at St. Andrew Baptist Church.
"It's a great honor," Ken Ayers, a retired air force major and a 2017 Notable 'Nole, said. Ayers served in Desert Storm and earned a masters degree in mathematics education in 2003. He currently attends FSU Panama City part-time studying electrical engineering. Ayers said his daughter was FSU Panama City's first female enrolled in the school's electrical engineering program.
"It's absolutely a wonderful feeling," Dr. Jim Dever, an entrepreneur, said. Dever retired as a successful entrepreneur at age 41. He earned a bachelor's degree in business and an MBA from FSU Panama City. Dr. Steve Leach wrote, in his nomination letter for Dever, that he, "has set a fine example of two things: It is never too late to further one's education, and one person can make a difference."
"Higher education and more opportunities for our area. And I'm so blessed that I'm a part of that," Jody Walls, Bay County's chief deputy clerk, said. Walls earned her bachelors degree from FSU Panama City while working full time in 1992.
The school's Dean Randy Hanna said the winners all have at least one thing in common.
"In addition to the time that they give here at FSU Panama City is all the other stuff they do in the community," Hanna said.
"[We have to] take care of the kids of Bay County and teach them to be entrepreneurs," Dever said.
The evening included live music, food, and unlimited refreshments.
"When you look at these four folks, these are just four folks who have done amazing things," Hanna said.
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