• Honoring Citizen Carroll

    They sat shoulder to shoulder to shoulder at the head table during the Rotary Club of Orange Park's 35th annual Citizen of the Year banquet Tuesday.

    Published June 11, 2005

  • They sat shoulder to shoulder to shoulder at the head table during the Rotary Club of Orange Park's 35th annual Citizen of the Year banquet Tuesday.

    Former speaker of the Florida House John Thrasher of Clay County was on the right; current Speaker Alan Bense of Panama City was in the middle and on the left was another Clay County resident, Rep. Jennifer Carroll -- a future speaker of the House?

    Rep. Jennifer Carroll is surrounded by well-wishers: former state Sen. Jim Horne (from left), former state House Speaker John Thrasher, Carroll, House Speaker Alan Bense and retired Adm. Kevin Delaney. --Lamar Thames/The Times-Union

    The grouping may have been accidental but it had an auspicious air to it as the Rotary Club bestowed its honor on Carroll, a Green Cove Springs resident. "Yes, I would very much [like to be speaker of the House]," Carroll said in answer to a question after the luncheon ceremony, which virtually amounted to the beginnings of her campaign to seek the two-term position beginning with the 2010 legislative session.

    But first, there is the matter of winning a couple of elections for the popular Republican, who served as Bense's majority whip during the most recent session.

    "What it amounts to is a campaign within a campaign," Carroll said about seeking the speakership.

    While nothing is certain in upcoming elections, Carroll has a lot of clout in her corner, beginning with Bense and Thrasher, who were there to help the Rotary Club fete one of its honorary members.

    "I want to caution you Rotarians not to get accustomed to seeing Jennifer at your meetings too often," Bense said. "To become speaker, you've got to travel around the state a lot. She won't be sitting around knitting, that's for sure."

    Thrasher made note of the symbolic seating arrangement.

    Rep. Jennifer Carroll is all smiles Tuesday after being named citizen of the year by the Rotary Club of Orange Park. --Lamar Thames/The Times-Union "You know, you've got a past speaker, the current speaker and for many of you, this is a chance of seeing a future speaker of the House right here," he said, nodding to Carroll.

    The club selected Carroll as its citizen of the year for her "outstanding contribution to the Clay County community" and for rigorously following the Rotarian motto of "service above self."

    Carroll was born in Trinidad and moved to New York by the time she was 9 years old. She joined the Navy after high school, was stationed at Jacksonville Naval Air Station as a jet mechanic and later entered officer training school.

    The award was not a surprise to Carroll, who had to be told ahead of time so she could arrange her schedule to be available to attend the ceremony.

    "I've been to these Citizen of the Year banquets before but I never thought I would be getting it," the former Navy lieutenant commander said. "I am touched that people I admire have come to share this time with me."

    One of those was retired Adm. Kevin Delaney, former commanding officer at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, who went against tradition and picked Carroll to be his aide.

    "I came back to Jacksonville in the 1990s after the Navy's Tailhook Convention of '91 and I got a lot of advice against doing it, but it was a good decision," Delaney said. Tailhook was marred by accusations of sexual harassment against Naval officers.

    Delaney said Carroll exhibited the qualities of a good role model -- honesty, integrity and character.

    "She has given a lot to America," he said. "She has great family values and she's a good mother and wife."

    Past winners

    The Rotary Club of Orange Park has selected a citizen of the year for 35 years. Here is a list of all the winners:

    1971 -- Edwin P. Heinrich
    1972 -- Richard F. Fromhart
    1973 -- Jesse P. Tynes
    1974 -- Edwin F. Montgomery, Jr.
    1975 -- Dorothy J. Sandridge
    1976 -- Hinson L. Stephens
    1977 -- Betty Jane Triplett
    1978 -- Madeline Moore
    1979 -- Frederica Massee
    1980 -- Nancy and Wayne Allen
    1981 -- Mrs. Carroll Campbell
    1982 -- Gordon R. Sandridge
    1983 -- Grady Williams Sr.
    1984 -- Loraine R. Furuseth
    1985 -- Marvin E. Wilhite
    1986 -- Louis L. Huntley
    1987 -- Dr. Jerry L. Linder
    1988 -- Fred C. Davis
    1989 -- Harold E. McDonald
    1990 -- John Starr
    1991 -- Claude Kelly
    1992 -- H. Jack Watson
    1993 -- Robert W. Riegel
    1994 -- Fran Quaritius
    1995 -- Mary Zellner
    1996 -- W.H. Sutton
    1997 -- Helen Williford
    1998 -- Jane T. Diloreto
    1999 -- John E. Thrasher
    99-20 -- Ann Kopelousos
    2001 -- David D. Faraldo
    2002 -- Jewel Futch
    2003 -- Thomas P. Diloreto
    2004 -- Larry Hills
    2005 -- Jennifer Carroll

    lamar.thames@jacksonville.com, (904) 264-1360.
    To read previous columns, go to http://www.jacksonville.com/community/col_archive/thames/

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