The small meeting room in the Kannapolis Train Station was filled to standing room only Monday night as Mayor Bob Misenheimer honored four residents for their contributions to the community.
One of them was the late Jay Nodine. Misenheimer read a framed proclamation and awarded it to Nodine's widow, Willie, as the crowd gave a standing ovation.
The proclamation honored Nodine, a Kannapolis resident for 46 years, for his extensive involvement in the local and national community.
That community activity included 11 years of service in the Air Force, his service as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission in Kannapolis and his involvement at Parkwood Baptist Church. He died Dec. 14 after a long illness.
Also honored at Monday's meeting were Firefighter of the Year Cody McSwain, Police Officer of the Year Brad Jordan and the late Dan Hodge, who was honored with a Memorial Resolution.
Many of the people in attendance were friends from the Goldmine Toastmasters Club, where Nodine was a longstanding member and leader.
"Jay was the face of our district for many years," said Bryan Walsh, district governor of N.C. District 37 of Toastmasters International.
Nodine was known for his humor and positive outlook on life, Walsh said. Nodine used to say, "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right."
Walsh said the district's theme was changed to proclaim that motto.
Barney Barnum, who was friends with Nodine for 24 years, said Toastmasters is creating a J.R. Nodine Leadership Award to honor chosen members in District 37 who reflect commitments to serve youth, the church, school and community.
There will also be a golf tournament in his name, and the winner will receive the Jay Nodine Sportsmanship Award.
"He impacted everybody," Barnum said. "He was a mentor to a lot of people."
Despite the sorrow felt in his death, smiles still lit the faces of those left behind at the mention of Nodine's name. The mayor, before reading the proclamation, looked at Willie Nodine and said, "I almost expect a joke," as the audience laughed in agreement.
In spring 2011, Nodine released his book "Jay's Jokes," a compilation of jokes and humorous stories, many of which were taken from his own life.
"Jay was thinking humor all the time," said Bill Mintz, a close friend of 32 years. "Everything he did dovetailed into a laugh."
Nodine took a lot of heat for his small size, said John Shephard, but he earned respect and dignity from the people he met.
"He was able to identify with people and make people feel like he was their friend," Shephard said.
Willie, Nodine's wife of 47 years, accepted the proclamation in her husband's honor, surrounded by family and friends.
Speaking of her husband's long list of awards and involvement, she said, "He enjoyed people, and he wanted to be involved."