CARY – With all his community involvement through the years, Horace Johnson has picked up a few nicknames along the way.
Now, there is one more moniker the longtime Apex resident can claim – 2012 Citizen of the Year.
Johnson earned the prestigious title during the annual Apex Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet held Oct. 11 at Prestonwood Country Club.
Other winners included Mike Wilson, who received the Louis C. Smith Hall of Fame Award.
Johnson has been heavily involved in community projects ever since he retired a decade ago.
He is very active with the Apex Lions Club and earned the name “Pie Man” for his long hours and devoted work at the club’s N.C. State Fair booth. He is also known as the “Exercise Man” for the morning workouts he holds for residents at Spring Arbor Assisted Living Community.
Chamber president Dave Cozzarelli said Johnson was the overwhelming choice for the award.
“We received a lot of letters,” said Cozzarelli. “He makes a lasting impact on everyone he meets and he gets greatly involved in the community.”
Cozzarelli noted that Johnson is a deacon at his church and an important member of the Lions Clubs. But his most impressive contribution is the volunteer work he does at Spring Arbor.
“For five days a week for more than five years he has held an exercise program for the residents,” said Cozzarelli. “He tells them jokes and holds current event discussions. He has become an important part of their lives.”
Johnson said it was an honor to be recognized by the community he has called home for 31 years.
“We love Apex,” said Johnson. “I just never realized how much there was to do in this community until I retired 10 years ago.”
Wilson, Apex’s longtime assistant town manager, became the sixth person to gain entry into the Louis C. Smith Hall of Fame, which was created to recognize individuals whose diligent efforts have changed Apex “forever, for the better.”
In presenting the award, town manager Bruce Radford said the words “dedication, commitment, character and responsibility” can be used to describe Wilson.
Radford said Wilson has played a vital role in nearly all aspects of Apex’s development during the past nearly three decades.
“This town is built on a very strong foundation,” said Radford. “Mike has had a hand in everything good in Apex. He is willing to work hard to get the job done right. He is a close friend of mine and I’m better for it.”
Wilson said he knew the late Louis C. Smith for many years and saw many of the great things he did for Apex.
“I knew him very well,” said Wilson. “He was a great man of wonderful character who did so much for Apex. Just the idea to even be associated with his name is a tremendous honor.”
Wilson now joins past winners Mike Jones, Karen Byrd, Bill Booth, Harvey Montague and Larry Jordan in the hall of fame.