By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A Tupelo resident and founder of one of the country’s most influential Christian watchdog organizations has been honored with a lifetime achievement award.
The Rev. Don Wildmon is the recipient of the 2010 James C. Dobson Values and Leadership Award, which recognizes his work to promote family values and awareness of the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
Wildmon, founder and chairman emeritus of the Tupelo-based American Family Association, received the award Sept. 18 during the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Wildmon accepted the award in front of long-time friends and conservative veterans of the cultural wars, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Center, and Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.
“There were several of us who got involved at about the same time, in the late ’70s, and our paths eventually crossed,” said Wildmon, speaking of his colleagues.
“Over the years my wonderful wife, Lynda, and I paid a price for the stance we took, but I thank God she stayed beside me,” said Wildmon.
Wildmon, a Dumas native, was ordained a minister in 1964 in what became the United Methodist Church. He helped found Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Tupelo and, in 1977 started the National Federation for Decency which later became the American Family Association.
In August 2009, then 71-year-old Wildmon contracted the mosquito-borne illness St. Louis encephalitis and spent several months in the hospital. Since then he’s resigned as chairman of AFA’s 10-member board but has stayed on at the organization, in his words, in a “behind the scenes” role.