On Thursday, Jan. 31, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce honored four men who deserve the accolades at its annual Business At Its Best luncheon.
But one man stands heads above the rest.
I honestly can't think of anyone more deserving than John Hood of the Doug Young Lifetime Achievement Award (and that includes Doug Young).
During his introduction, Mark Pirtle called John the Billy Graham of Murfreesboro. That's actually a good comparison. John had led by example, dedicating his life to making Murfreesboro and Rutherford County "a better place than it was the day before," Pirtle said.
John’s career spans six decades with posts in radio broadcasting, banking, human resources, higher education and government service at the city, county and state levels.
John served on the Murfreesboro City School Board, Rutherford County Commission and Tennessee House of Representatives.
He has spent nearly every Thursday night of his adult life at an Exchange Club meeting.
He's even a veteran of the U.S. Army.
He called his dedication a "privilege."
"This community has been good to me," he said.
Oh, and he's humble too, even though his service to the community probably has done more than anyone else to shape the place in which we live.
"It's called service," he said, "which is defined as the rent we pay for the space we occupy and I'm just trying to keep my rent current."
John's rent is paid up and his efforts have laid a foundation for a healthy community with a booming economy.
Rutherford County added 1,187 jobs through 13 relocations and 17 company expansions in 2018 for a capital investment of $544 million. I3, Cardinal Health and Sazerac Distillery wanted to come here because of the work of Hood and the men of his generation.
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Hood worked with men now past to attract and retain industry like State Farm and Samsonite.
When Hood worked as personnel manager for Samsonite Corporation he gave people jobs that improved the lives of countless families.
We were at lunch a few years ago and a man approached, asking to interrupt our lunch.
"I just wanted to thank you for giving me my first job. You changed my life," the man said explaining their interview in the early 1960s at Samsonite.
John looked down at his chicken and mumbled a "you're welcome."
How many people have stories like this about John Hood?
The other men honored have dedicated their lives to keeping us healthy, safe and housed.
2018 Business Legend of the Year Gordon Ferguson has overseen the expansion and relocation of Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital.
When he took the CEO job, the hospital had 117 doctors in more than 20 specialties. Now it's a seven-story, state-of-the-art building with 500 doctors in more than 50 specialties.
There is hardly a big real estate deal in Rutherford County over the past 35 years that didn't have John Harney's fingerprints on it.
The 2018 Business Person of the Year Harney's real estate transactions resulted in 25 subdivisions, two industrial parks and countless commercial and retail developments.
Harney had a hand in bringing Amazon, NHK Seating, Interstate Warehousing and Verizon into Rutherford County's economy.
From his early days as a jailer with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office to the streets of Smyrna, Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold has worked to keep Smyrna safe. He was the recipient of the Leadership Rutherford 2018 Pinnacle Award.
They are all great men. But none have had the impact of John Hood.
He's one of a kind.
Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics, her blog Middle Tennessee Mysteries, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)murfreesborovoice.com.