Franklinton Citizen of the Year

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Linda Smith Crain, a retired educator and active community member, was recognized Sunday as the 2013 Outstanding Citizen of the Year for Franklinton.

The awards program, sponsored by The Daily News, was held at First Baptist Church of Franklinton and drew a large crowd of well-wishers.

Following a welcome from master of ceremonies and 2012 honoree Wayne Kuhn, 1997 Citizen of the Year Marsha Newman recognized Crain’s family members, including her husband of 44 years, Robert, and their three children — Rob, Matt and Susan — and their families.

Newman also acknowledged the elected officials and past recipients in attendance.

Kuhn, who has known Crain all his life, shared some humorous stories about their school days and said the day’s honoree always has a smile on her face, reflecting her positive attitude and cheerful personality.

“That’s the kind of person we all like to associate ourselves with, and that’s Linda,” he said.

Crain’s friend Karen Spears read her nominating letter, providing an overview of the honoree’s career in education, involvement in civic organizations such as the Waverly Club, Winbury Club, Magnolia Belles and others, and her active participation in community events.

“If something’s going on in the community, Linda’s going to make an effort to be there,” she said.

Spears also discussed Crain’s dedication to her church and family and talked about one of her most important roles, that of “MeMe” to her seven grandchildren.

The first to give a testimonial, 2010 Citizen of the Year and former Washington Parish School System Superintendent Dennie Fowler provided information about Crain’s 30-year career as an educator.

Crain completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in education at Southeastern Louisiana University in 1971 and then began teaching at Kentwood Elementary. She next went to work in the East Baton Rouge School System for three years, until she completed her Master of Arts degree in education at Louisiana State University in 1975.

That year, she moved back home and was hired by the Washington Parish system, teaching at Thomas Elementary and then Franklinton Elementary. She also completed her master’s plus 30 degree in 1984 and obtained her educational specialist degree in 1986.

Crain began her tenure as Enon Elementary principal in 1988 and was named principal of Franklinton Junior High in 1994, remaining in that role until her retirement in 2002.

Crain has reported that “those 30 years represent many wonderful experiences” and that her years of serving as a teacher and principal have given her kindness and compassion for others and have helped her develop leadership skills, Fowler said.

He said Crain continues today helping at the family business, Crain Funeral Home, and that she has touched many lives through her work in the education field.

The Rev. Paul Watts, Crain’s pastor at First Baptist, discussed the Citizen of the Year’s gracious nature and active participation in church committees, functions and ministries, including teaching and ministering to the Ruth Sunday School Class.

He said it is obvious that Crain “doesn’t take God’s grace for granted” and that she knows she needs Jesus.

“She has a very humble spirit, a very humble personality, even though she is a leader,” he said. “We’re honoring her today for her leadership and for the things that she’s done here in this community, but she’s done those things with a great deal of grace and shown grace to so many people.”

The final testimonial came from the honoree’s son, Matt Crain.

He said he was “filled with pride, joy and happiness” when he learned that his mother had been selected for the award. And when he learned he would be speaking during the program, he began investigating what makes a Citizen of the Year.

He said the common traits among the recipients are that they are leaders instead of followers, are givers rather than takers and are always part of seeking solutions.

The citizens of the year, he said, don’t see Franklinton as an average community.

Crain said his mom is someone who truly loves the town — someone who knows the dates for the Washington Parish Free Fair by heart and can readily provide a Demon football score on Saturday mornings during the fall.

Saying she provides a daily example of how to serve others, he congratulated her on being honored as Citizen of the Year.

“Mom, we love you and we’re proud of you,” he said. “You’re very deserving of this recognition, and, as a family, we thank you for your example in service and commitment to the Fair City.”

Linda Crain was presented a medal and framed Daily News article by General Manager and Managing Editor David Vitrano and a silver tray, lapel pin and key to the city by Franklinton Mayor Wayne Fleming.

“We really appreciate you, and we’re so happy for you,” Fleming said.

To close the program, Crain offered her acceptance remarks, thanking her family and all those who attended.

She said she is humbled to be recognized among the Citizen of the Year group and is honored to live in Franklinton, a small town where people know each other and enjoy being around one another.

“I think we have a wonderful example in our community of people who are hard workers willing to go the extra mile to do what they need to do for Franklinton. Thank you very much,” she said.