Rod Sabiston selected 2014 Franklinton Citizen of the Year

Published 8:35 am Friday, May 29, 2015

Rod Sabiston is proof positive individuals who give of themselves are ultimately rewarded.

Known best for his involvement with the Franklinton Community Theatre, Sabiston was selected Tuesday as the 2014 Franklinton Citizen of the Year.

Sabiston was chosen in voting by past honorees at the Varnado Store Museum Annex. After the voting, Mary Jo Poole called the Sabiston home and spoke with Sabiston’s wife, Drema. Poole notified her of the selection and asked her to keep the news quiet until the selection committee arrived at their home in Crabapple Court, outside Franklinton.

It appeared Sabiston was genuinely taken aback when Poole and Terry Seal first informed Sabiston of the news.

“I’m just overwhelmed. I’ve never received this type of honor before,” Sabiston said. “Over my 75 years. I’ve been very fortunate to have good parents and good direction throughout all the periods of my life.”

Sabiston is a native of Moncks Creek, S.C., and received a baseball scholarship to Clemson University. He transferred to LSU where he earned a degree in business and marketing. He worked for 30 years as a sales representative for a number of furniture companies.

The latest Franklinton Citizen of the Year moved to Franklinton in 1978. The couple has two children and five grandchildren.

Though he is considered a “come here” in local parlance, Sabiston said the local population is priceless.

“I’ve learned a tremendous amount here in Franklinton about good people and who I can depend on,” Sabiston said. “There are many of them. I’m very thankful to my church at Centenary United Methodist. Most of all, I’m thankful for all the leaders in Washington Parish.”

Sabiston got involved with the local theater company in the 1980s and has served as president since 1999. He has worked in all aspects of the theater, from set design to advertising.

Along with his church work and his work in community theater, Sabiston also served on the board of Franklinton Country Club and was involved with the Franklinton Skeet Club.

Sabiston said the primary reason for his community involvement is simple.

“I’ve always felt I had to give something back to any community I was associated with,” Sabiston said. “I felt like my experience and my observations about successful people needed to be passed on to the next generation. Every generation needs a successful soldier to help pass on that great information they have learned from being involved. Nothing takes place until action is taken.”

Long before Sabiston began singing with the Centenary Choir, he recorded music for two years in Nashville starting in 1959, and he gets to put a little of that experience to use while pursuing his passion of producing live theater shows.

“The biggest production I’ve ever done as a producer is ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 2004. It was humongous. It was as big as anything I’ve ever had to produce. I had one of the greatest directors I’ve ever been involved with in Bob Gault from Slidell.”

Sabiston said “The Wizard of Oz” gave the theater some needed energy.

“That put us in the position to continue growing stronger and stronger. We also did a USO Show, and it was packed.”

The theatre is located at 1010 Bene St. Joe and Beck Yeager own the property. The facility offers at least one major production per year.

Sabiston talked about his own life philosophy shaped through the years.

“I found out that to get ahead in this world, everybody who gets ahead has to have one strong desire and have definite purpose in life,” Sabiston said. “When you decide what you want to be in life and if that’s your aim in life, it is whatever your mind can conceive and believe.”