ASHE COUNTY — When the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce holds its annual meeting; business members, board members and friends alike gather to celebrate the accomplishments of the Chamber’s expiring year. In the middle of electing a new chairperson, celebrating new recruits and setting next year’s expectations is an award honoring the late former chamber executive director, Cabot Hamilton.
Chamber Executive Director Kitty Honeycutt said the award goes to someone in Ashe County who puts others above themselves, and continues the work of helping the community that Hamilton strived for.
“The Cabot Hamilton Community Advocacy Award, just the name ‘community advocacy’ it means someone who is willing to reach out through all of the community, not for personal gain, but just the good of Ashe County,” Honeycutt said. “That’s important to us, so it carries a lot of prestige and significance.”
The trophy itself is a pottery tray made by David Bridge of Whiskey Mountain Pottery, a Chamber member business. Honeycutt said Bridge is working on a permanent award to reside at the Chamber, honoring all past recipients.
Hamilton served as the Chamber’s executive director for eight years before his death in Dec. 2016 at the age of 74. Before that, the Chapel Hill grad moved to Ashe County in 1982 with his wife, Teri, entering the soft drink industry before becoming the publisher of the Jefferson Post.
The award was established shortly his passing, according to Honeycutt, with the first being awarded six months later. Teri Hamilton said the award and the people it honors makes her and Cabot Hamilton’s family very proud.
The first went to Ernest O’Banion, who worked tirelessly to turn Ashe County into a travel destination, in 2017. 2018’s award went to Calvin and Katrina Miller, who have served on many boards and spent hours volunteering around the county. The most recent award went to WKSK owner and DJ Jan Cadell. At the 2019 meeting, Cadell was unable to attend due to poor health, but his son, Graham Cadell, and daughter, Charlotte Thompson, were on-hand to accept the award and thank the Chamber. Honeycutt said Jan Cadell was good friends with Cabot Hamilton, adding he would have definitely approved of Jan Cadell receiving the honor.
“(Cabot Hamilton) was extremely generous, very caring and didn’t want a lot of attention for himself. In fact, he might even be a little bit embarrassed about this award,” Teri Hamilton said.
She added he was the kind of person who felt many others did so much for the Chamber who should be recognized.
“He worked very hard for this community, he just wasn’t the kind of person who wanted to be out front,” Teri Hamilton said. “Those are, I think, the most special kind of people.”