The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 5, 2014

Chuck Lucas receives Chamber’s Service Award

94th annual dinner features local movers and shakers

BECKLEY — The 94th annual Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce Dinner featured local politicians, business owners and many other movers and shakers from the local community.

BRCCC President and CEO Ellen Taylor said the event gives local chamber members the chance to meet and greet one another in a friendly setting. The event is also a time to honor special community members and catch up with some of the more famous folks who have lived in our area.

This year the BRCCC honored Chuck Lucas for all he’s done for the county with their community service award.

“The community service award is given to someone who is very involved in making life better in this area,” Taylor said. “He certainly exemplifies that. He has given much of his time and talents to rotary bell-ringing.

“He led that and raised lots of money, which is such a good thing. He has given to the Storm Haven (transitional living center for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts).”

Taylor said Lucas is just an all-around great guy.

“He’s a good business man and he has given his time to Beckley Area Foundation,” she said. “He gives a lot of himself to the community and that’s what you look for when you give away a community service award.”

Those who know him best only have wonderful things to say about him.

“I couldn’t believe he hadn’t gotten this award already,” Beckley Rotary Club President Dr. William O’Brien said. “He will probably get the YMCA citizen’s award too.

“He’s one of those people in town — I’ve been here 23 years — that I’ve never heard one person say something negative about. Ever. I wasn’t here when his business was running, but if he ran his business like that, we need him back.”

O’Brien said Lucas was the person who has always put together the Rotary-sponsored bell-ringing every year for the Salvation Army.

“He organized the whole thing, and traditionally Beckley Rotary Club produces the biggest returns on bell ringing right at Christmas time for the Salvation Army,” he said. “Chuck did it all.”

Others say they can’t think of someone who is more deserving of the award than Lucas.

“Chuck Lucas is a man who epitomizes his community,” Beckley Newspapers Inc. Publisher Frank Wood said. “He is respected, selfless and gentlemanly. His opinions are well-thought and valued. He is very deserving of the Chamber’s Service Award. He’s a devoted family man who finds time to serve the community he loves so dearly.”

Congressman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said Lucas is the kind of person who really supports his or her community and allows it to stay strong.

“Chuck Lucas is a man who truly has not forgotten the place from where he came,” Rahall said. “He has lived his faith to the fullest and he truly is a pillar of the community.”

Lucas told everyone that he appreciates everything they have done for him.

“I’m humbled,” he said. “I’m honored and most of all, I’m thankful. I just want to thank my family for their support through the years.”

Members of the Woodrow Wilson class of 1955 were also at the dinner to honor Lucas.

“They have always been my friends, not just back then, but they’re here today and they’ll be there for me tomorrow,” Lucas said.

Each year the Chamber of Commerce dinner has a featured speaker. This year’s speaker was the starting left guard of the National Football League team Buffalo Bills.

“We always have a featured speaker and we try to bring back the area’s best,” Taylor said. “(Actor) Chris Sarandon, (gymnast) Mary Lou Retton, and now (NFL athlete) Doug Legursky. He’s a local guy who has done well and we’d like to recognize that.”

Rahall thanked Legursky for being such a great role model not only to local children, but youths all over the nation. Legursky talked about his experiences growing up in Beckley and some of the challenges he had faced over the course of his life.

“You don’t have to be a football player to know about adversity,” Legursky said. “Everything that each person goes through is a different fight, but it’s all about fighting through that adversity. It’s about fighting for your job, fighting for your community, fighting for your kids, or fighting for your marriage.

“Whatever you’re fighting for in your life, fight for it with all of your might. If you fight through that adversity and just try to make it to the top, you will be successful.”

Legursky said growing up in southern West Virginia helped shape his entire life.

“Being from southern West Virginia has kept me grounded and close to my roots,” he said. “Being from this area where there’s so much love between the family and everyone in the community. So many people grow up in these big cities and they don’t get to experience that sense of community that I’m blessed with. It’s absolutely amazing.

“I try to bring that to where I am. When I was at Pittsburgh (with the Steelers) and now that I’m with the (Buffalo) Bills, I always try to bring everyone together and have big dinners with everyone involved like the people of West Virginia do.”

During the dinner, Beckley Mayor Bill O’Brien and his wife, Lynn, gave Legursky a key to the city. Legursky said he’s looking forward to putting it on a gold chain and wearing it around town with pride.

— E-mail: cneff@register-herald.com

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