‘Mr. Salvation Army’ honored

Published 11:52 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

AHOSKIE — Of all the things Gilbert Vaughan is known for, helping those in need comes to mind immediately for those who know him.

Last week, Vaughan along with his wife, Sylvia, were honored by the Salvation Army for their work.

Not only was January 13 declared “Gilbert Vaughan Day,” but the Salvation Army Advisory Board in Elizabeth City voted to make Mr. Vaughan a lifetime member as well as make Mrs. Vaughan an honorary member of the board.

The Elizabeth City Advisory Board, a regional board, oversees nine counties in northeast North Carolina—one of them being the Hertford County Salvation Army Advisory Board which Vaughan has been a member for twenty years and currently serves as chair, a capacity he’s served in two times before.

The people of Hertford County have benefited from his work during the flood after Hurricane Floyd as well as during other disasters and personal hardships by providing necessities including food, clothing and even fuel. Many who know Vaughan will tell you he was often the first to step up to help those in need, by way of the Salvation Army or out of his own pocket.

“I cannot say enough about Gilbert and his sidekick, Sylvia, they’re a team,” said Lynne Pike, Vice President of the Elizabeth City Advisory Board.

Pike said Vaughan is the kind of person who is dedicated to his work and “gets right down in the trench and works, and works and works.”

“He’s the kind of person we all should aspire to be,” she said.

Former State Senator Melvin Daniels was on hand to present the Vaughans with their plaques.

Daniels said Vaughan came onto the board during a critical period in the area’s Salvation Army history, a time when the western end of the region had lost its representation. When asking around the area, one name kept coming up: Gilbert Vaughan.

“We found out he was a go-getter and we found out we got not only one, but two,” he said, referencing Mrs. Vaughan.

Daniels continued that in his experience he’s never seen anyone with the energy and dedication such as Gilbert and Sylvia.

“I’ve heard of cases when Gilbert has reached into his own pocket when the Salvation Army could not help,” he said.

Major Jim McGee of the Corps Office in Elizabeth City said both honors bestowed upon the couple are noteworthy, especially Mrs. Vaughan who is believed to be the first honorary member in the area.

“It’s fairly a rare occasion,” he said.

Those who know the Vaughans did not think of their honors as unusual, but more like it couldn’t happen to a better couple.

Bill Wiggs came from Hickory to see the honors bestowed on his “mom and pops.” Wiggs said the Vaughans became his adoptive parents when Wiggs served as governor of the Kiwanis Club, another successful involvement for Gilbert Vaughan.

Wiggs said he wasn’t surprised Mr. Vaughan was honored by the Salvation Army.

“I’m surprised the fire truck didn’t show up today and drive him all around town,” he said. “If everyone had a touch of Gilbert Vaughan in them this world would be a better place to live.���

Larry White of Ahoskie worked with Vaughan for 25 years at the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and recalled how his friend was often the first to respond to those in need.

“He’s the kind of person that always wants to help…(the honor) is well deserving,” he said.

Mr. Vaughan said he first got involved with the Salvation Army because he simply wanted to help.

“I wanted to help people,” he said.

“It’s a lot of fun to help people,” said Sylvia. “Especially children—to see their faces light up.”