Abilene Chamber of Commerce Outstanding citizen
By ROY A. JONES II
Courtesy of the Abilene-Reporter
Former Abilene Mayor Gary McCaleb was honored Tuesday as
Abilene's Outstanding Citizen of the Year for 1999.
Described as a natural leader and visionary, McCaleb
shared the spotlight with former U.S. Labor Secretary Lynn
Martin at the annual Abilene Chamber of Commerce banquet.
Nearly 700 people attended the dinner at the Abilene Civic
"I deeply thank you for this recognition, but more
importantly for all the years of support and encouragement
as we have joined together to make a special community
filled with truly remarkable citizens," McCaleb, moved to
tears, responded. "I accept this in recognition of all of
A second standing ovation followed his remarks.
Before the presentation, Martin challenged the audience
with serious advice, laced with personal family humor, about
how to approach the work place of the future.
A former five-term congresswoman from Illinois - and
mother of seven - Martin is qualified to see both sides of
the glass ceiling.
Men can learn a lot about communication from women, she
asserted, mimicking the conversations of men and women at
office parties. "Both sides have to learn to communicate.
Women have had to learn it.
Hispanic-Americans have had to learn it.
African-Americans have had to learn it. If you are a
minority, you have to learn how to communicate with
"Every male manager should be required to attend an
all-woman event once a year," she said.
"This would be an important way for them to learn to
manage," she added.
Noting how much women have to offer to corporate America,
she said, "Why would we want to exclude any group that could
improve our corporation, organization or country?"
Women are making giant strides, she said, admitting that
it is as important for some women to be full-time mothers as
it is to be CEOs. And men are making strides in recognizing
"For the first time we are not just doing it because it
is noble or right, but because it is imperative, because it
means all of us will have a better chance," she said.
McCaleb, who served five years as a city councilman and
nine years as mayor before stepping down from city
government in May, was introduced by last year's honoree,
At least half of those attending probably assumed the
then-secret honoree had won before because he had done so
much for Abilene, Canon said.
"The big surprise tonight is that this individual has not
been previously honored," Canon said before recounting
McCaleb's long list of accomplishments. Most in the audience
had figured out the winner before Canon got through the
first page of his introduction.
A knack for doodling on term papers tipped off the
representatives from his alma mater and employer, Abilene
Christian University, and by the time Canon mentioned
"celebrity sketches" nearly everyone in the Civic Center
made the connection.
McCaleb's pencil sketches of athletes and other
newsmakers are a trademark of sorts for a "local retail
establishment" the audience quickly identified as Towne
"Our honoree's cup of capacities and capabilities
definitely runneth over," Canon said.
Telling how McCaleb became ACU's youngest vice president,
at age 41, Canon quoted the late ACU President Don Morris as
calling McCaleb "a natural leader."
Of McCaleb's accomplishments as mayor, Canon said, "Just
look around you - one facet of his jewel of vision was
downtown Abilene, a restoration, a revitalization of a
moribund, stagnant central core of community."
He's also championed the cause for children, helping
conceive the National Center for Children's Illustrated
Literature, Canon said. McCaleb's entire family - his
parents from Anson; his wife, Sylvia, two children, and four
grandchildren surprised McCaleb by flanking him when the
award was presented.
Business Editor Roy A. Jones II can be reached at
676-6737 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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