On Oct. 18-19, Georgia Military College will host 2019 Alumni Weekend. One of the highlights of the weekend is honoring of a select group of individuals with Georgia Military College Alumni Awards. The recipients of these prestigious awards are selected annually from submitted nominations.
The 2019 recipients are: The Honorable Henry Craig (Distinguished Alumnus Award), Capt. Kristopher Farrar (Military Service Award), Dr. John Wood (Alumni Achievement Award), Lt. Col. Grady Torrance (GMC Service Award), Lyn Chandler (Community Service Award), The Honorable Trevor Addison (Emerging Young Alumni Leader Award), Polly Echols (Honorary Alumni Award) and Deputy William E. Robinson IV (Alumni Fallen Hero Award).
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD
The Honorable Henry Craig HS 1965, JC 1967
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given to an alumnus of GMC who has distinguished him/herself in their profession in an outstanding manner, and in so doing has brought honor upon themselves and to GMC. This award is presented for service to humanity and dedication, which have fostered the ideals of GMC.
Craig attended GMC High School beginning in 1961 and graduating in 1965. He then went on to earn his associates degree from GMC Junior College, graduating in 1967. He was a Ranger graduate and a Leadership Academy graduate, as well as the yearbook editor in 1967.
Upon graduation from GMC, Craig was commissioned as an Armored Cavalry Officer and went on to serve in the Army from 1968 to 1988. Craig served in the Vietnam War in 1972, flying an electronic warfare aircraft, where he totaled 360 combat hours. He served in Europe as an electronic Warfare Officer, as well as several assignments across the United States. He received multiple awards and decorations before retiring at the rank of Major in 1988. Craig then went on to be a pilot and pilot instructor for Continental Airlines from 1988 to 2008. He retired as Assistant Chief Pilot for B757/B767 Domestic and International Operations.
In 2012, Craig was elected as Baldwin County Commissioner and currently serves as vice chairman. He was selected as a member of the Board of Managers for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and has since been appointed to the executive committee of ACCG and appointed as chairman of the Mental Health Committee of ACCG. Craig was the recipient of the ACCG Leadership Award in 2016 and the ACCG Legislative Leadership Advocacy Award in 2019. He was also the recipient of the “Larry Huggins” Award from the Georgia Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission and was featured in Georgia Trend Magazine in May 2019 as “One of Six County Commissioners Who Make Lives Better.”
As county commissioner, Craig has made great strides for a cause he is passionate about, providing proper care for the mentally ill. From 2011 to 2017, Craig was appointed to the Georgia Traumatic Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission first by Governor Perdue and then by Governor Deal. Then in 2017, he was appointed to the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee. His past community engagements include his involvement in the Fall Line Freeway Developmental Authority and the Keep Milledgeville-Baldwin County Beautiful Affiliate. He is currently making an instrumental impact with his involvement as county commissioner on multiple committees with particular focus on mental health in the local community. Craig’s commitment of selfless service to both his country and his community are immeasurable. His leadership in both capacities have made and will continue to make a lasting difference in the community.
Craig’s commitment to this community and his family are evident in his passionate support of the GMC William Craig Scholarship in his brother’s memory. His leadership in the annual pheasant shoot and his advocacy for this family scholarship is tremendous. This reflects his lifelong passion for making a difference in the lives of others and his deep desire to see his brother’s legacy at GMC continue into the future. This is truly an endeavor of honor and reflects his character and commitment. Craig and his wife, Celia, who are both lifelong residents of Milledgeville, have two children, Katrina and Jay, and four grandchildren, Emily, Alyssa, Erin and Craig.
ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Dr. John Wood HS 1996
The Alumni Achievement Award is given to an alumnus who by deed or action, reflects and recognizes the importance of their education at GMC and exemplifies its Core Values of “Duty, Honor, Country” in their personal and professional lives. This Alumnus’ interest and loyalty are evident to GMC through their contributions of time, talents and/or philanthropic support to one or more programs benefitting GMC and/or the GMCAA.
Dr. Wood grew up in Wilkinson County and joined the GMC family as a 10th grader at the prep school. He graduated in 1996 and went on to complete his undergraduate degree from Georgia College and State University, where he also worked the night shift as a dispatcher for the Gordon Police Department between classes. He then attended medical school at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta where he graduated with honors.
Dr. Wood distinguished himself early in his career in the field of medicine. Upon graduating from medical school, Dr. Wood completed his residency at Palmetto Health Richmond in Columbia, SC. During a particularly difficult emergency room rotation, he found his calling for emergency medicine and the calm leadership and expertise that make him successful. He has since committed his life to emergency medicine and has made a significant impact on the lives of his patients and medical personnel. He has been an Emergency Care Physician since 2007, and has served as the Chairman and Director of Emergency Medicine at Navicent Health since 2016. His hard work and excellent leadership earned him the honor of being named the Apollo MD Medical Director of the Year for 2018. In addition, Dr. Wood serves as the Associate Professor of Medicine for Mercer Medical School and is a Georgia Physician Leadership Academy Fellow from the Medical Association of Georgia. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians where he meets with state representatives about issues in emergency medicine.
Extending his commitment beyond his patients, Dr. Wood also serves as a volunteer in his community and at GMC. He gives of his time and expertise as an assistant coach for the GMC Raiders as well as serving as the on-call team doctor. He is also an assistant Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 119 in Gray, Ga.
Dr. Wood, his wife, Amanda (who is also the Bulldog Club secretary), and their three children reside in Haddock, Ga. Their children, Lee, Lana, and Sofia have followed in their father’s footsteps and currently attend GMC Prep School.
Honorary Alumna Award
The Honorary Alumna Award is awarded to individuals who are not alumni of Georgia Military College, but who have provided special or exceptional service to the school or to its Alumni Association, and who, by virtue of their service, are worthy of the designation of GMC Alumnus and all that the designation entails.
Georgia Military College has been a part of Mrs. Echols’ family life since she was a child, and loyalty to the beloved institution was instilled in her at a young age. Her father, two brothers, uncles and cousins were all GMC cadets and her mother, Bettie Farr, was the GMC Latin teacher for many years. It was in the GMC Canteen at age 12 that Polly first met her husband, Dr. George Echols, a Distinguished Alumnus of GMC, whom she later married after graduating from college. The GMC legacy that runs deep in her family is evident in the pride and patriotism that Polly exudes. She is one of GMC’s strongest supporters and believes wholeheartedly in the school’s philosophy of character education.
After raising four children and supporting her husband as he established a thriving medical career, Echols and her husband, Dr. George Echols, moved back to Milledgeville in 1991. She has called it home since and has continued her dedication to GMC as well as her financial support. She and her late husband dedicated a classroom to her mother, Mrs. Farr, and also established the Bettie Zachary Farr Endowed Scholarship to provide financial assistance to a rising GMC Preparatory student. Their son, Lee Echols, has continued the Echols family tradition of supporting GMC students by establishing the Dr. George L. Echols Endowed Scholarship in his father’s name in 2015. In addition, Echols was a member of the original Performing Arts Committee at GMC.
Supporting GMC has been a lifelong passion for Echols. It is a special place to Polly and her family, where many of her family members received the education that helped shape the outstanding people they are today. It is also the place where she has formed priceless friendships with like-minded supporters. Her unwavering commitment has made a lasting impact on GMC that will be felt for many years to come.
Echols resides in Milledgeville and has four children, Lee Echols, Ellen Purdum, Martha Mixon, and Erin Pervis, and many beloved grandchildren.
EMERGING YOUNG ALUMNI LEADER AWARD
The Honorable Trevor Addison JC 2011
The Emerging Young Alumni Leader Award is given to an alumnus of GMC who has graduated within the past 10 years, is no more than 35 years of age, and has accomplished one or more of the following: has demonstrated continuous support of the Alumni Association and GMC through contributions of time and/or gifts; has made outstanding contributions to a chosen profession; has achieved in such a way that has brought great honor to the individual and the College; has demonstrated service and a commitment to the community; has fostered the ideals, goals, and values of GMC.
As a student, valued employee, and public servant, Addison has given tirelessly of himself to both GMC and the local community. Graduating from GMC in June of 2011 with an associate degree in business administration, Addison came back to his alma mater two years later as a financial aid assistant. Upon graduating with a BBA in Economics from Liberty University, he was promoted to Financial Aid Counselor in 2014. In 2018, he was then promoted to Assistant Director of Financial Aid and in July of 2019, became Deputy Director of Financial Aid.
In 2015, Addison was presented with GMC’s Customer Service Excellence Award. Soon after in 2016, at the age of 26, he was elected as Georgia’s youngest county commissioner and is currently serving as Putnam County’s vice chairman and District 4 Commissioner in his second term. After being elected, he earned his County Commissioner Certification from the University of Georgia in 2017 and was concurrently appointed to the Republican Leadership of Georgia Program. This invitation-only program is based on the vision of the late Sen. Paul Coverdell and is designed to fill the ranks of Georgia’s Republicans with trained leaders.
In 2019, he was selected as the GMC Resource Management Employee of the Year. He also represented GMC at the state capital regarding higher education policy and bills taken up by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Additionally, Addison is a member of the Georgia Association of College Financial Aid Administrators and the National Association of College Financial Aid Administrators, where he holds 11 financial aid credentials.
Addison’s commitment to his community is ceaseless as he continues to serve local organizations in various capacities. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Putnam County Republican Party and as a Board Member on the Sinclair Water Authority, TenderCare Clinic and Central Georgia Joint Development Authority. He also previously served on the Board of the Eatonton Elks Lodge, a non-profit that devotes its time to serving United States Military veterans and elementary school children.
Addison and his wife, Pelar, reside in Eatonton.
GMC SERVICE AWARD
Ltc. Grady Torrance (Ret) HS 1950, JC 1951
The GMC Service Award is designated for alumni or friends of GMC who have rendered special service to the school, or any of its ancillary organizations. All nominees should show evidence of service and loyalty to GMC and their community organizations and activities. This award is the highest recognition and greatest expression of appreciation extended to an individual by the GMCAA, given for outstanding service and volunteerism. This is an annual award and may be presented to more than one nominee.
Torrance and his family have a long history of commitment and loyalty to GMC. Torrance started at GMC in the eighth grade in the fall of 1945. He graduated from GMC High School in 1950 and went on to attend the Junior College. His father attended GMC from about 1926 to 1928. His older brother, Larry graduated from GMC, and his sons, Tom, Andy, Steve, and daughter, Molly, all graduated from GMC.
Crediting GMC as giving him the foundation to succeed, Torrance went on to graduate from the University of Georgia. He was then commissioned an officer in the Army in 1954, serving 2.5 years active duty while being stationed in Germany and Austria. He served 25.5 years in the Reserves and National Guard, also graduating from Basic and Advanced Infantry School and Command and General Staff College, as well as the Industrial College of Armed Forces. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Torrance has selflessly served this community and institution in several capacities for many years. He proudly served as a county agent in the area for 10 years. He went on to become a beloved teacher of economics at GMC for 10 years and Georgia College for an additional 10 years. He served on the original Executive Board of John Milledge Academy during its formation. In addition, Torrance served as a Baldwin County Commissioner for eight years, on the hospital board for five years, and on the Housing Authority Board for five years. He has also faithfully helped to support the Torrance Family Endowed Scholarship at GMC.
Giving his time and devotion to his community and church has always been important to Torrance. He has taught Sunday school for over 50 years and has been a deacon at First Baptist and then Community Baptist Church both of Milledgeville. He has been a member of Kiwanis since 1978 and also supported many community prospects and charities, including the 4-H Advisory Board and Leadership Baldwin Classes.
Always present with a smile to support GMC, Torrance embodies the characteristics at the very foundation of this institution. His enthusiasm for his beloved GMC and community is contagious and influential to all who have the good fortune of knowing him.
Grady and Frances Torrance reside in Milledgeville and have four children and many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Community Service Award
HS 1963, JC 1966
The Community Service Award is given to GMC Alumni who, through leadership, inspiration, teamwork, or hard work in the spirit of volunteerism or in their professed activities, have taken the lessons of GMC’s Character Education beyond the classroom and whose actions are characterized by a history of exemplary service resulting in unquestionable improvements within their community.
Chandler’s commitment to his community is an exceptional example of the character qualities GMC represents. He graduated from GMC High School in 1963 and GMC Junior College in 1966. He then attended Georgia College, graduating in 1975 with a bachelor of science degree in business and in 1979 with a master’s degree in business administration. He worked in industry until 1983 when he began his career in education at Baldwin High School. Chandler then went on to earn a degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Georgia in 1994. After serving as a classroom teacher, vocational director, assistant principal and principal, Chandler retired in 2009. One of the many highlights of his career includes establishing an NJROTC unit at Baldwin High School, which continues to be successful today.
Since retiring, Chandler has continued to work actively as a community volunteer in Milledgeville and Baldwin County giving endlessly of his time and talents. He currently serves on the Baldwin County Board of Education, District 3. He serves or has served as the following: Chamber of Commerce Partners in Education Program chairman; Family Treatment Court Advisory board member; Georgia’s Old Capital Heritage Center Advisory board member; past Commissioner Milledgeville Housing Authority Board Member; founding board member and past chair of Communities in Schools Milledgeville-Baldwin County; past chair Milledgeville Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce Board; Big Brothers/Sister mentor; Habit for Humanity board member; and United Way Local Advisory board member.
Chandler was recently honored for his community service by receiving the Jefferson Award. In 2014, he received the Floyd Harrington Leadership Award in appreciation for extraordinary contributions and leadership on behalf of the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce. Chandler is a Paul Harris Fellow as well as the past president of Milledgeville Rotary. He received the Presidential Citation Award for outstanding leadership and dedication to the ideals of Rotary in 2016-2017.
Chandler and his wife, Kathy, reside in Milledgeville. They have two children and four grandchildren. The Chandler family has a long legacy at GMC, as his son and daughter are third generation graduates of GMC Prep School.
MILITARY SERVICE AWARD
Capt. Kristopher Farrar JC 2007
The Military Service Award is given to an alumnus who participated in the Corps of Cadets-Active Duty, Reserve, Guard or Veteran (honorable discharge required) and a member in good standing of the GMCAA at the time they are nominated for the award. The recipient is selected for rendering unusual and conspicuous service in an act of humanity, heroic effort/action in battle, or service to the city, state, or nation, and in doing so has brought honor and distinction to GMC and its Corps of Cadets.
Capt. Farrar’s military career is exemplary as are his qualities of character and commitment. He began his journey at GMC, graduating in 2007 with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. He was a State Service Scholarship recipient as he served in the Georgia National Guard as a Black Hawk mechanic at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Georgia. While at GMC, he was a runner up for the Georgia National Guard Soldier of the Year for 2017. He served as the Student Government President, the Editor of the Old Capital News, and the President of the Honor Council. He also rose through the Cadet Corps ranks to Regimental Command Sergeant Major and earned the Order of the Centurion and the Servant Leader Award.
Farrar commissioned through Reserve Officer Training Corps with a follow on assignment to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division where he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Rifle Platoon Leader. He served as the Executive Officer for Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Training Brigade and then as Commander of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division. He recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan with the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade where he is currently a Team Leader. Captain Farrar’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal 2 OLC, Army Achievement Medal 1 OLC, National Defense Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal 1 CS, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non Commissioned Officer Developmental Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Air Crewman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Ranger Tab. His military education also includes the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course and the Maneuver Captains Career Course.
While attending GMC, Farrar volunteered with the Solicitor General of Baldwin County. He currently devotes his time outside of work to serving his church and helping to facilitate their outreach into the community. At Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ga., Farrar has served in the roles of Youth Leader and Young Adult Ministry Leader, as well as on their Board of Trustees. He also serves as the Village Men’s Ministry Leader at Village Church in Phenix City, Ala. where he works to coordinate better outreach between Fort Benning and local ministries. Most recently, he cosponsored his church to participate in the Fort Benning New Comers Expo welcoming new Soldiers to the area.
Farrar and his wife, Nicole Edwards Farrar, began dating at GMC and married after graduation. Nicole is also a 2007 graduate of GMC, Cadet Corp Regimental S5. They have three children, Kaden, Cole and Kara, and currently reside in Phenix City, Ala.
ALUMNI FALLEN HERO AWARD
Deputy William E. Robinson, IVHS 1987
January 21, 1969 – December 17, 1995
The Alumni Fallen Hero Recognition is given to an alumnus who as a First Responder rendered unusual and conspicuous service in an act of humanity, heroic effort/action in battle, or service to the city, state, or nation, going into harm’s way on behalf of others, and in doing so brought honor and distinction to GMC.
Even as a child, Will Robinson desired to dedicate his life to serving others. A spirited child full of life, he grew up in Milledgeville and attended GMC, a third generation cadet. Both of his grandfathers, six of his uncles, one of his aunts, his two brothers, and his father all attended Georgia Military College. While at GMC, Will filled his time outside of the classroom with activities and sports, especially football, where he was known as “Big Number 65!”
After graduating, as Robinson set out to accomplish his goals, it became evident that he wanted to serve his community. He went on to graduate from Georgia College and State University with a bachelor’s degree in history, and was working on a master’s in public administration. Taking to heart the values GMC instills in its students, Robinson moved forward in his life as an example of these values: Duty, Honor, and Country. It was important to him that he make a difference in the world around him.
Serving as deputy in the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department was a dream come true for Deputy Robinson. He considered it an honor and privilege to help keep the community he loved safe, and this was a job where he felt he was able to serve people every day. He was a true servant leader, and this also went beyond the calling of his job. In April of 1995, after the Oklahoma City Bombing, Deputy Robinson, his friends, and fellow deputies traveled to Oklahoma to cook barbecue for the rescue workers at the bomb site. He understood the value of giving back and his life defined it.
On Dec. 17, 1995, Deputy Robinson was tragically killed in the line of duty at the age of 26. His life’s purpose, to serve, lives on in the impact he made on his family, friends and community. The evidence is in the many who come out every year to support the Will Robinson Memorial Run which benefits the GMC scholarship in his name and the C.H.A.M.P.S program of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department. It continues to be seen in the genuine smile and words of admiration that are a given at just the mention of his name. His status of hero is indefinite, as are the lasting effects of his immeasurable example of integrity, duty, and honor.
Deputy Robinson dedicated his life to serving others and in his 26 years, made a lasting impact on those who had the privilege of knowing him. His GMC family and his community are indebted to he and his family for his service and his sacrifice. His was a life that reflected true character and selflessness, and his legacy is one that will forever be honored.