Richard Gulley has been named 2017 recipient of the James R. Stevens Service to Garner Award. He was recognized at Tuesday night’s Garner town council meeting.
Gulley, who is 81 years-old, was raised in the Cleveland School area where he graduated from high school in 1955. Very soon thereafter he established residence in Garner, which he still calls the best move of his life.
From the moment he arrived in Garner, Richard demonstrated his love for his community and his willingness to wholeheartedly contribute to it. He became an active member of the Garner Presbyterian Church and began working as a letter carrier at the Garner Post Office. Richard was much more than a mailman as he became acquainted with the families on his route. He became a friend who visited the sick and elderly, contributed to the relief of those in need, and advocated for those who were disadvantaged.
Soon after starting his job with the Post Office Richard met and befriended B.R. Poole, an owner of J&P Oil Company and Chief of the Garner Volunteer Fire Department. Chief Poole offered the young letter carrier exactly what he wanted, an opportunity to serve Garner in yet another way.
Two days after Richard was invited to become a volunteer firefighter, he was riding the back of a fire engine on the way to his first fire. He has answered thousands of calls since then.
He has done much more than fight fire as well. Richard helped many families find new homes or places to stay. He helped raise money for uninsured people that had suffered great loss. He tirelessly promoted fire safety and fire prevention long before that became an expected part of a fire fighter’s job.
Richard went on to serve for thirty years as an active fire fighter holding every office in the department, including chief and chairman of the Board of Directors. He is still an honorary member of the Fire Department and President of the Firemen’s Relief Board of Directors.
When his son, Tony, entered public school in Garner, Richard became extremely involved in the PTA serving as president and chairman of several committees at Garner Elementary. Tony also participated in many Garner Youth Recreational Sports and at a time the town had very limited resources,
Richard very willingly donated untold hours to make sure the kids had the opportunity to play organized ball. In that capacity he led fundraising efforts, assisted in maintaining the ball fields, providing equipment and uniforms and even paying for boys whose parents could not afford to participate. Richard served as president of the Garner Tarheel League for several years.
In the early 1970’s there was but one Pee Wee Football Team in Garner, who went unscored-upon and undefeated for the season. They were invited to the City of Atlanta to play a championship game. Richard was instrumental in seeing that money was raised to send the team, including the cheerleaders, to Atlanta, where they defeated the City of Atlanta Pee Wee Champions. Richard made sure everyone he met knew the little team was from Garner and what a great place it was.
For all his life Richard has been a “Good Will Ambassador” for the Town of Garner. He has been active in local politics and has been a mentor to many town leaders, past and present. His wise counsel is often sought and much appreciated by people of practically every station in life. Promoting Garner and its quality of life has always been a priority in Richard’s life.
Richard Gulley was a lifelong friend of James Stevens. They served on many committees together and both had the same love for and dedication to the Town of Garner. Although the nature of service each of these men rendered to Garner was different they shared a common motive. Both held the strong conviction that their hometown was the best place they could possibly live; that they were tremendously blessed to live there; and that they were determined to serve their beloved Garner as best as they could.