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Couple to receive honor for helping preserve Plant City area history

PLANT CITY – A married couple who have been community leaders for 20 years will receive an annual award for helping preserve local history.

Bill and Gwen Thomas will be presented March 27 with the 12th annual Heritage Award by the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center.

The black tie-optional event at the center, 106 S. Evers St., starts with a 6:30 p.m. champagne reception and includes live music, a dinner and complimentary wine and beer. General admission tickets are $100 per person.

For ticket information call (813) 754-1578; seating is limited.

This is the first time that the prestigious award has been presented to a couple.

Archives President Ed Verner said that the Thomases “have worked jointly for the betterment of the greater Plant City community.”

Thomas spent 24 years in the U.S. Army and returned to Plant City with his wife after he retired.

Both husband and wife have been heavily involved in the Improvement League of Plant City, and Bealsville Inc. community group and help run the popular Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Arts Festival. They were also involved in renovations of the historic Bing Rooming House in Plant City and the William Glover School in Bealsville.

Bill Thomas helped organize the Plant City Eagles youth football program, and served on the board of several organizations, including the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough County Community Action Board, and executive committee of the photo archives and history center.

Gwen Thomas has served with the Business and Professional Women's Club, the Neighborhood Service Center, and is on the board for the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation.

The Thomases also operated the Academy of Excellence, among other activities.

Verner also announced that Candy Owens and her mother, Ann Owens, both long-time volunteers at the photo archives, will receive the Bill Parolini Award for their dedicated volunteer service over the years. In addition to her position as a Photo Archives employee, Candy Owens has donated many volunteer hours to the organization.

Past recipients of the Heritage Award include: D. E. Bailey, James L. Redman, Robert Trinkle, B. M. “Mac” Smith, Betty Barker Watkins, Dr. Hal Brewer, Gladys Jeffcoat, James “Sonny” Jones, Robert “Bob” Edwards, Dr. Maribeth Mobley, and J. Myrle Henry.

Past recipients of the Bill Parolini Award include Mary Jane Parolini, Tim Martin, Linda Smith, Bill Thomas, Betty Patton, Lou Baird, Anne Haywood, David Patton, and Lavon Dudley.

Twitter: @dnicholsonTBO

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