Here in Davidson, we are lucky enough to have someone who carries within her the spirit of the season year-round.
Jane Ellithorpe, 65, was recently recognized as the recipient of the Jack Burney Community Service Award, an annual honor bestowed upon an individual who has helped make Davidson a better place.
The award, created five years ago, was named for the late, much-loved G. Jackson Burney. Burney was an avid volunteer who contributed through roles in land planning and also founded and published several town newsletters.
"The award is the town's way of saying thank you to a person who has helped to make it a better place," said Sarah-Lynne Levine, communications director of the town of Davidson.
The nomination committee is composed of previous winners, civic and religious leaders, college faculty and others. The process begins in June with nominations and, after extensive interviews, the pool is narrowed over the course of the following four months, with the honoree chosen in the fall.
What was Ellithorpe's reaction? "I'm embarrassed," she said good-naturedly.
Though modest when speaking about her achievements, she spoke freely about her love of art. A sickly child who was bedridden for a year with rheumatic fever, she occupied herself by drawing.
After her recovery, she spent much of her time exploring and falling in love with the natural world and it became a favorite subject in her artwork.
Even if you haven't met Ellithorpe, you're probably familiar with her signature, J-A-B-E, for Jane Ann Budd Ellithorpe. It's imprinted on the watercolor artwork on display in the Town Hall rotunda, which she said is her reflection of 35 years in Davidson.
Ellithorpe's contributions to the community are many, according to good friend and Mayor Pro-Tem Margo Williams.
Williams delivered Ellithorpe's citation at the recent award breakfast, mentioning that she volunteered as the town's first curator for 10 years and as a member of the Appearance Committee, which set the tone for historic preservation. She was a co-den mother, ran the Davidson Youth Baseball Concession stand and was president of the Alexander Middle School PTA.
Even before the establishment of a full-time Parks and Recreation director, Ellithorpe taught art camps for children. She was named Rotarian of the Year for a project she started to deliver food and gifts to needy families.
Ellithorpe was clear that's she's not done doing good works.
"I don't know what my next step is, but I know it will be good," she said.