Legend lost with Vaughan’s passing

Published 8:34 am Tuesday, May 18, 2010

AHOSKIE – His work here on Earth is complete.

For all of his adult life, Gilbert Cherry Vaughan was a do’er. If there was a cause to promote, he was the man to get the ball rolling and keep it on a straight path for as long as the situation warranted.

The man affectionately known as “Mr. Kiwanis” and “Mr. Salvation Army” died on Sunday. He was 82.

“When you think of the Salvation Army, you think of Gilbert Vaughan and vice-versa,” said Dr. Bonnie Revelle of Murfreesboro who has filled in for Vaughan as the Salvation Army’s Hertford County director since his health began to decline rapidly in January.

She continued, “He loved the Salvation Army and did anything and everything he could to make it work. When he saw a need, he filled it. He was the ultimate volunteer…a champion for those in need. It’s hard to imagine anyone filling his shoes. He was a legend.”

As a Lifetime Member of the Salvation Army, an honor bestowed earlier this year, Vaughan served on the Board and chaired the activities in Hertford County. Other than working with locals in need following storms/hurricanes, Vaughan is perhaps best known for orchestrating the Salvation Army’s local Christmas bell ringing and the distribution of food, clothing, and toys for those in need.

But Vaughan had many loves in his life as a volunteer, most particularly his involvement with the Ahoskie Kiwanis Club. There he served several terms as Club President as well as Division 15 Lt. Governor. He led an effort to establish a Key Club (an organization that gets high school-age students involved in civic projects) at Ridgecroft School. That club remains extremely active.

“Gilbert Vaughan was the type of individual that brought out the best in all of us,” said Stan Perry of Columbia, SC who is Secretary/Treasurer of the Carolina Kiwanis District Foundation, Inc. and a past District Governor of the Carolinas. “He was never without a smile, possessed a bear-like hug, a welcoming handshake and had a heart that never quit giving.

“Former Kiwanis International President, Ito Torres, spoke of leading with a servant’s heart,” Perry continued. “Gilbert Vaughan lived that axiom. You didn’t have to be around Gilbert for very long to feel the love he had for his fellow man, his family, his precious wife Sylvia and if you would let him… for you.”

Perry closed by saying, “Gilbert’s long fight is over. He moves on to a well deserved rest. His presence, leadership and counsel will be missed. His spirit, however, will live on in the countless lives he touched. The Kiwanis family has suffered a great loss. Rest well thy good and faithful servant.”

Vaughan’s legacy remains visible in other areas as well. He was a Pee Wee, Little League and Pony League baseball coach, was a member of Ahoskie Volunteer Rescue Squad and Volunteer Fire Department, Girl Scouts, and was instrumental in developing the Roanoke-Chowan Wildlife Club at Hare’s Mill where he served in various capacities on the board.

“I worked a lot of years with Gilbert Vaughan,” said retired Ahoskie Recreation Director Dennis Everett. “They were some mighty good years.”

Everett said Vaughan and Simon Perry started a Farm League for young baseball players who failed to make the town’s all-star teams.

“He got a lot of young people involved in athletics,” Everett recalled. “He did it all. He and wife even operated the concession stand at the ballgames.”

In his professional career, Vaughan worked at the Roanoke Beacon in Plymouth before joining The Herald Printing House in Ahoskie (now the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald). There he rose to the ranks of Plant Manager before retiring.

Vaughan leaves behind a wife, one son, a daughter, three grandchildren, four great grandchildren and a sister….along with hundreds, make that thousands, of lives he has touched and helped in some way to shape over the years.

A celebration of life memorial service will be conducted at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

See Vaughan’s full obituary on page 6A.