By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce honored two retired educators who have made impacts both deep and numerous outside their professions as its 2013 Citizens of the Year.
Dr. Wil St. Amand and Dr. Fred Laurenzo, both retired professors from the University of Mississippi, shared the honor Thursday night at the annual banquet of the Chamber and the Economic Development Foundation.
“Each year since 1972, the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce has sought to recognize individuals who have made positive contributions to Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi as Citizen of the Year,” said presenter Hollis Crowder, who earned the honor in 2010.
The awardees are chosen for positive volunteer contributions to the Oxford/Lafayette/University community, outstanding performance in their profession or business and a communitywide perception as a role model for good citizenship and volunteerism.
St. Amand grew up in Maine, served the United States in World War II and moved to Oxford in the 1960s to teach biology.
A three-time caregiver to family members with Alzheimer’s disease, he is a founding member of the local Alzheimer’s support group as well as of Meals on Wheels, the Lafayette County Genealogical and Historical Society and the Oxford Kiwanis Club.
He is a frequent volunteer with the Mississippi Veterans Home, the Pantry, the Salvation Army and Key Clubs, and spearheaded a project to provide every public school in Lafayette County with an automatic electronic defibrillator.
“The list of what makes tonight’s honoree so worthy of an award like Citizen of the Year goes on and on,” Crowder said.
Laurenzo, who retired as chair of Ole Miss’ Department of History, has worked tirelessly with Oxford-University United Methodist Church, also reaching across denominational and racial lines to the congregations of Second Baptist and St. Peter’s Episcopal churches.
Crowder said Laurenzo, who was absent from the celebration, “is highly recognizable as a community leader/volunteer/donor for Habitat, Amos Network, Food Pantry, United Way and the Burns Belfry,” the last a restoration of the city’s oldest black church building as a community center and museum.
Laurenzo most notably helped create a nonprofit that has worked with builders, bankers, vendors and volunteers to help 30 working-class families purchase their first homes.
“The accomplishments of LOU Home under our honoree’s leadership are nothing short of extraordinary,” Crowder said.