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January 18, 2013

ATHENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MEMBERSHIP BANQUET: Texas Ragtime's Hunt named Citizen of the Year

ATHENS — Dr. Bill Hunt is a man of intelligence who has an adventurous entrepreneurial spirit.

He’s also a man of humor.

Hunt was in fine form Friday night upon being named the 2012 Citizen of the Year at the Athens Chamber of Commerce’s annual Membership Banquet held at Athens Country Club.

“The chamber,” Hunt deadpanned in a booming baritone, “has finally reached the bottom of the barrel. I should have been suspicious when I knew the Mavericks were playing tonight and saw Dr. Joe Ed Smith was still sitting at my table.”

Hunt, the owner, president and CEO of Texas Ragtime — a company that supplies textiles for industrial and commercial uses — was described as a “visionary, a strong leader and a doer” by 2011 Citizen of the Year Judith McGilvray, who made this year’s presentation.

Hunt, she said, is no stranger to taking risks and one who exhibits innovative thinking. The success of his factory, located on State Highway 19 north, is proof of that. But McGilvray noted Hunt’s service to a number of other endeavors, including the Athens Rotary Club, Athens Country Club, the Trinity Valley Community College Foundation Board and the Cain Center Board of Directors.

Hunt is a “true ambassador of Athens,” McGilvray said.

Hunt thanked his wife, Carmen (“Without a whimper, she’s been in the trenches with me all the way through,” he said) and acknowledged Dick and Peggy Dwelle — a pair of longtime Athens citizens and community leaders who moved to Dallas this past year. Likewise, he recognized Cain Center Board of Directors Chairman Steve Grant for his work in helping lead the revitalization of that organization.

“He should be standing up here, not me,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s love of Athens was apparent in his words, as he noted that whenever his family or his company receives visitors, even from foreign countries, he always takes them to see Athens’ “two jewels,” namely East Texas Medical Center and the Cain Center.

“It’s a great community,” he said. “We’ve done things in Athens we couldn’t have done in Dallas or Fort Worth or Houston or San Antonio.”

Hunt joins a prestigious list of Citizen of the Year winners, which most recently has included Dr. Gary Williamson (2010); Mary Waddell (2009); Gary Chasey (2008); Jess Laird (2007); Richard Sanders (2006); and Rusty Workman (2005).

The chamber has honored a Citizen of the Year since 1966.

Other honorees from Friday night’s banquet were:

• Kim Hodges, who was named Ambassador of the year;

• Ship Shop, which was named Small Business of the Year; and

• First State Bank, which was named Large Business of the Year.

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