When the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting Jan. 21, one man in the audience had no idea that his name would be called at all, let alone for the special honor he received.
The DeVaul Henderson Community Service Award is not given every year, but is reserved for a worthy recipient. This year’s recipient, Angus McLeod, is a retired Realtor with a deep love for Richmond Hill.
Established in 1998, the award is given to a civic-minded person who has made a positive impact in Richmond Hill. It is named for the late
DeVaul Henderson, who was known for his commitment and contributions to the community. The recipient must be a Chamber member with a positive attitude, innovative ideas and involvement at the county and state levels. The recipient’s service and contributions should be on a broad scale. The recipient should be a team player with integrity and should be passionate leader who is reliable, trustworthy, sincere and selfless.
McLeod embodies these qualities, according to the Chamber, and is well-known for his love of telling stories.
McLeod said he is honored to be the 2016 Henderson Award winner, especially because he used to work alongside Henderson himself.
“D. Henderson and I worked together for years,” McLeod said. “To me, it was a big deal to receive this award. He was such a great man and did so much for the community.”
McLeod grew up in Charleston, West Virginia. He spent his childhood through high school in Yadkinville, North Carolina. He discovered Richmond Hill in 1974 while working for Greyhound in Savannah.
Nine years later, he and his wife, Gretchen, put their roots down here. He quickly became a part of the business community.
“I like people and had been successful buying and selling a few houses,” McLeod said. “It seemed like a natural thing to pursue becoming a Realtor.”
He teamed up with Johnny Murphy who owned the only real-estate office in town at the time, Richmond Hill Realty. Murphy eventually sold his share, and this led McLeod to Re/Max. For the next 15 years, McLeod played a role in the real-estate market.
As a charter member of the Chamber of Commerce, McLeod has seen and been involved in countless boards and decisions that have affected the growth of Richmond Hill. As the city and surrounding South Bryan area has grown from a small community with fewer than 2,000 people to more than 21,000 according to a U.S. Census estimate in 2014, McLeod has cherished every moment of watching South Bryan flourish.
“I believe in giving back to a community that has been so good to me and my family,” he said.
McLeod has left few stones unturned in his quest to be involved in the community. He has worked with the Chamber and Richmond Hill Historical Society, donated boat tours on the Ogeechee River, established the Richmond Hill Farmers Market, written for Richmond Hill Reflections magazine and established local nature programs, to name a few. Since retiring, he has not slowed down on his goal to give back.
“Our churches are strong, school systems are good and county government holds down property taxes as much as they can,” he said. “How many cities have a police department sitting on a 36-acre park? We are not perfect, but this is a great community.”
McLeod said it took him 15 years to realize what truly sets Richmond Hill a part. It is truly profound, McLeod said, at least more than 80 percent — perhaps closer to 90 percent — of the population in Richmond Hill and South Bryan choose to live here. A good number of families, he said, go out of their way to live in this community.
Because of that, McLeod said, people take pride and are more willing to step up and help keep the community strong.
“One of the greatest blessings of being a part of this community is being able to make a living, raise two children and educate them in public school,” he said.
Now that he is retired, McLeod said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, hunting and fishing. And, of course, giving back to the community.