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Longtime Swannanoa Valley mover and shaker William C. “Bill” Hamby is the unanimous choice for the 2018 Kiwanis Community Service Award.

The Kiwanis Club of Black Mountain-Swannanoa bestowed the honor on the Swannanoa Valley native at its annual Community Service Award Luncheon on Sept. 20 in the Christmount Dining Hall.

“Mr. Can-do of Black Mountain is what former First Baptist Church Transitional Pastor, Rev. Dr. Bill Henderson called Hamby, as he paid tribute to the Swannanoa Valley native.  

When others saw Hamby coming, Henderson said, "they’d think 'uh oh, here comes Bill Hamby again.'" 

That's because every time Hamby would walk in the room he always had a vision and he was going to get it done.  

"And sadly enough,” Henderson chuckled, “he was going to make us get it done.”  

And that he did.

Three major projects Hamby spearheaded from dream to reality are the Shelter for the Homeless in First Baptist Church, the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry’s “Hope for Tomorrow” apartment complex for homeless mothers with children, and the prize-winning renovation of the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center and restoration of its most valuable artifact, the historic Black Mountain Fire House.

Hamby’s volunteer service to the community followed his 30-year employment with Buncombe County Schools. In 1983, the National Education Association ranked the system’s school buildings among the 12 most dilapidated in the nation. 

While serving as the system’s capital outlay budget director, Hamby supervised the funding and construction that turned the system’s facilities into some of the best in the state.

Also paying tribute to Hamby was past School Board member and president Wendell Begley, president and CEO of Black Mountain Savings Bank.

He described Hamby as “dogmatic," stubborn and old-school."   

“When you’re dealing with a dozen or more big contractors for doing this kind of work, and they knew Bill Hamby was the man in charge, you’d better believe they knew what they’d better do,” Begley added.  “I don’t know of a person… I would trust my kids with, my money (it’s probably a good thing he’s not a banker) than Bill Hamby, a person of the utmost integrity.”    

Cheryl Wilson, executive director of the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry called Hamby “a true God-send throughout our Hope for Tomorrow building process."  

"From the initial germ of an idea to the completion of the building of the five duplexes,” Wilson said, “Bill has worked tirelessly, every step of the way, in insuring that everything was done correctly and timely.” 

To date, the community has contributed over $1.1 million toward the project.  Wilson expressed her appreciation for Hamby by saying he is "irreplaceable.”

To the deep dismay of many in the Swannanoa Valley however, a replacement will soon be needed. 

Bill and his wife Nancy are moving to the Portland, Oregon area where their daughter and son-in-law will be presenting them with their first grandchild in about a month.  Hamby said the couple asked them to come out to provide daycare and family support.  “It didn’t take long,” Hamby added, “to say yes."

In thanking the Kiwanis Club for the honor, Hamby said.

“It’s been quite a journey through all the organizations, whether it was the Church, or the Museum or the Christian Ministry that Nancy and I have been a part of," he said. "I certainly didn’t do it for any particular recognition or award,” he said, but added “what I’ve always tried to do is to make a difference and move things forward, and I hope I’ve been able to do that.”

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