Vann’s benevolence celebrated

Published 8:26 pm Thursday, May 1, 2008

By Staff
Community leaders and Boy Scouts honor his lifetime of service
Staff Writer
Tom Vann was toasted and roasted during a banquet held to recognize his commitment to helping Scouts and the community.
The Beaufort County Distinguished Citizen Dinner, which attracted entrepreneurs, politicians, community leaders and Scouts, was held at the Turnage Theater on Tuesday night.
Vann, president and chief executive officer of First South Bank, has been a “lifetime volunteer” for Boy Scouts of America, according to Ashley Stephenson, master of ceremonies for the evening. In his younger days, Vann earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Although the focus of the event was Vann’s accomplishments, Stephenson believes the event brought attention to the Boy Scouts.
The event raised $35,000 for the East Carolina Council of Boy Scouts of America, according to council President Herman Gaskins Jr. More than 100 donors attended the event, according to Stephenson.
Stephenson, an Eagle Scout, was encouraged by the work local Scouts from Troop 99 did to put on the banquet.
Vann’s impact on the Scouting community in Beaufort County is evident in the Troop 99 Scouts, according to Stephenson.
Vann, during his closing comments at the dinner, attributed the success of the local Scouts program to many people, and he recalled a time when the program was foundering.
Banquet attendees included state Rep. Arthur Williams, District Attorney Seth Edwards, District Court Judge Chris McLendon and County Commissioner Robert Cayton.
Throughout the presentation honoring Vann, jokes were made at his expense. Stephenson was grateful to have such a good sport.
Vann can dish out the jokes as well, according to Stephenson.
Stephenson opened the roast with a few comments, notably one at Gaskins’ expense.
Scouts from Troop 99 led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.” They recited the Scout Law and Scout Oath.
Then, Stephenson invited all Eagle Scouts in attendance to stand up, at which point about 20 members of the audience stood.
During the presentation, Stephenson recognized the Holscher family.
Don Miller, a retired teacher of the arts, took to the stage to talk about Vann’s contributions to the arts.
First South Bank has more than 700 pieces representing over 200 regional artists in 34 locations, according to Miller.
Bill Wall, the bank’s chief financial officer, explained why Vann was hired by the bank in 1972 over other more-qualified candidates.
An enlarged photograph of Vann presiding over the closing bell of NASDAQ on April 20, 2007, was featured as a backdrop during Wall’s speech. The photograph was taken to commemorate the bank’s 10th anniversary as a NASDAQ-listed company. After Wall finished his remarks, Stephenson had a few choice words.
After the speakers finished their remarks, Gaskins presented the Distinguished Citizen Award to Vann. Gaskins said Vann exhibited three characteristics of Scout Law — bravery, thriftiness and honesty. According to his employees, Gaskins said, Vann is thrifty in the workplace.
Vann accepted the award, making brief comments regarding his parents.