Two individuals were honored for outstanding service to the Johnston County Heritage Center at the Center’s annual Patrons’ Dinner held on March 13.
Donna Bailey-Taylor of Benson, Executive Director of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau since 1996, was named Heritage Hero for her work as heritage tourism promoter and exhibit designer.
“You can have a great story to tell, but it’s the way it’s presented that makes it come alive,” Heritage Center Director Todd Johnson pointed out. “Anyone who has visited the Heritage Center, the Ava Gardner Museum, or the Benson Museum of Local History has been struck by the quality of the presentation. All three spaces have one thing in common, or one person, I should say, and that is Donna Bailey-Taylor. Her knowledge of graphic design software and her sense of ‘look and feel’ in an exhibit are indispensable and have made a world of difference in the way we present Johnston County’s unique story.”
Ann Lee Huckenbeck of Clayton was recognized for her exemplary service on the Johnston County Heritage Commission. She and husband Rich, who are moving to Ohio in May to be closer to children, have both been integral in the life of the Heritage Center for over a decade. Before retiring and relocating to her native Johnston County, Ann was Dean of Admissions and a Vice-President of the University of Connecticut.
In a special tribute, Julia McCullers wrote, “Ann Huckenbeck’s energy and enthusiasm for preserving what is unique to this area where she grew up found its ultimate outlet when she was appointed a member of the Johnston County Heritage Commission. Since 2014 she has been the tireless and inspirational chair for the Commission. Under her leadership, Ghost Walk and other events have thrived and the Endowment Fund has prospered. She has been open to new ideas, embraced newcomers to the Commission, and maintained a good-humored, congenial relationship with Todd and the staff. She has been everything a good leader should be.”
The Heritage Center, a county agency, is a public-private partnership that relies on annual support from local citizens and others who value local history and genealogy. The Patrons’ Dinner marked the culmination of the Center’s annual private fund-raising campaign, which has brought in over $36,000 to date.