PLANT CITY For years, Michael Cameron has attended the annual Outstanding Citizen of Plant City luncheon and helped salute the winner.
The 52-year-old financial manager said he couldn't believe it Wednesday when he was named to the honor that dates back to 1960.
“I thought, 'this is the kind of thing that goes to people who have buildings and parks named after them.' I feel honored and humbled,” Cameron said.
The award was presented by last year's winner, Joe Sedita.
Sedita said he's a long-time friend of Cameron's and said he's very deserving.
“Michael Cameron has blessed so many people in Plant City. He is a leader and an exceptional person who does so much for the community,” Sedita said.
Cameron's members including his wife of 15 years, Terrie, 14-year-old son Nicholas, parents Gary and Sandra, sister Susan Cameron and father-in-law Jack Edwards stayed out of sight during the luncheon to keep the surprise. They joined him on stage after his name was called.
Terrie Cameron said she had known for three weeks and arranged for all his family to be there.
“I knew he'd be thrilled and honored,” but she kept silent so she didn't spoil the surprise, she said.
Cameron was born in Plant City and raised in the Springhead area. He graduated from Plant City High in 1980 and later earned degrees in citrus business and finance from Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
He worked for Farm Credit of Central Florida and five different fertilizer companies, including one job that took him to Birmingham, Ala. for two years. In 2000, he moved back to Plant City, worked for Edward Jones financial services for nine years before forming his own firm, Cameron Financial Management, supported by LPL Financial.
His civic and church work includes president-elect of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, past Lions Club president, and chairman of the church council at First United Methodist Church of Plant City, where he was also a longtime Sunday School teacher of senior high school students. He has also been on the board of the Plant City Pig Jam committee, Bruton Memorial Library and Plant City Entertainment community theater.
Cameron “never met a stranger,” Sedita said.
“Everywhere you go, you see Michael Cameron and he always has a smile on his face. He's always ready to help out any way he can,” Sedita said.
Cameron said he finds community service easy.
“I do what I do because I love this town.”
The Outstanding Citizen award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant, positive impact on Plant City. The first recepient was Arthur Boring, a prominent local bank president.
Leaders of Plant City civic clubs and the chamber of commerce nominate candidates for the award, and a series of votes determines the winner.
Kiwanis Club President Anna Reitz, who emceed Wednesday's program, said organizers insist on confidentiality until the awards ceremony so it's “the best kept secret in Plant City.”
Previous winners include:
Joe Sedita, 2013; Dr. Donald Humphrey, 2012; Marsha Passmore, 2011; Henry Falcon, 2010; Bruce Rodwell, 2009; Fred Johnson,
2008; Jack Gibbs, 2007; Felton Williams. 2006; Coleman
Davis, 2005; Judy Barta, 2004; the Rev. H. Richard Bills,
2003; Betty Chambers, 2002; Myrle Henry, 2001; Ray “Rolly”
Rollyson, 2000; Bill Herold, 1999; Al Berry, 1998; Sadye
Martin, 1997; Mike Sparkman, 1996; Judy D. Martin, 1995;
Bob Edwards, 1994; Floyd Hall, 1993; Ercelle Smith, 1992;
Ruth Lyle, 1991; James Jones, 1990; William Bradbury, 1989;
Ron Baker, 1988; David Byars, 1987; Richard Elston, 1986;
Mary Gardner, 1985; B.M. “Mac” Smith Jr., 1984; Betty
Barker Watkins, 1983; Paul Buchman, 1982; Reece Smith
Sr., 1981; William Vernon, 1980; Hillman F. Bowden, 1979;
D.E. Bailey, 1978; Mac Hooper, 1977; James L. Redman, 1976;
Coach L.H. Duyck, 1975; Nettie Draughon, 1974; Otis Andrews,
1973; Henry Moody, 1972; Roy Thacker, 1971; Hal
Brewer, 1970; Horace Hancock, 1969; Ben Rawlins, 1968; Bill
Rickert, 1967; Robert S. Trinkle, 1966; Alex Hull, 1965; Willard
McGinnes, 1964; Edgar Hull, 1963; Frank H. Moody,
1962; Quintilla Geer Bruton, 1961; Arthur Boring, 1960.