By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – When Aubrey and Ruby Kathryn Patterson moved to Tupelo 40 years ago, they were looking for the right place to raise their then two small children.
“We were looking for a place with traditional values, a commitment to family life and community building,” Aubrey Patterson said. “We’ve never been disappointed in Tupelo or Northeast Mississippi.”
Over the years, the Pattersons have given back to the community not only financially but with their time and talent. There are few organizations in Northeast Mississippi that haven’t benefited from the Pattersons’ generosity.
For their efforts, they were named this year’s recipients of the CREATE Foundation’s McLean Awards for Philanthropy.
The awards were presented Thursday night during the nonprofit foundation’s fall summit held at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.
The McLean Awards for Philanthropy were established in 1997 to honor individuals that exemplify George and Anna Kiersey McLean’s extraordinary giving. George McLean established CREATE, and the Northeast Mississippi regional foundation has owned the Daily Journal since McLean’s death in 1983.
“To the extent we’ve been blessed and able to make a small contribution to the community, it’s the rent we pay for the space we occupy here,” said Aubrey Patterson, chairman and chief executive officer of BancorpSouth. “We’ve received much more than we’ve ever given.”
Ruby Kathryn Patterson said they didn’t do anything other people wouldn’t have done.
“Everybody is here for a reason, whether it’s to smile at someone to make them happy or something else. … we’re all supposed to get along together,” she said.
Mike Clayborne, CREATE’s president, said the Pattersons were an “obvious choice” for the award.
CREATE also handed out two other awards Thursday:
• The third James Hugh Ray Community Affiliate Award was given to Itawamba FIRST (Friends of Itawamba Responding to Secure Tomorrow). The organization has built its endowment fund to more than $565,000.
The award is based on several factors, including its visibility in the community, its leadership role in the community and its growth.
• The Community Partner Award was given to the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Mississippi Director Mike Armour accepted the award for the ARC.
CREATE also marked its 40th anniversary with memorable highlights of each decade.