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Honoring the memory
Tributes paid to Burns, Allen at Chamber meeting
small business 2
Dan Burkhalter of H&R Block, left, received the Effingham Chamber of Commerce small business of the year award at Thursdays annual meeting. Burkhalter received his award from Chamber executive director Rick Lott. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce paid tribute at its annual meeting Thursday to two leaders the community lost in 2012.

Connie Burns posthumously received the Chamber’s Treutlen Award for service to Effingham County, and Effingham’s legislative delegation presented a resolution in memory of George Allen.

“It’s always nice when you can honor two people for extraordinary service to Effingham County,” said Chamber Executive Director Rick Lott.

Burns died unexpectedly in August at just 43 years old. Her brother and sister-in-law, Greg and Tammi Burns, accepted the Treutlen Award in her honor.

Reading from a two-page, handwritten note, Tammi said of Connie, “She loved life, lived it to the fullest and always had a smile on her face.”

Burns was the longtime director of the county sanitation department, and she was happy to call herself “the queen of trash.” She even dressed the part for the first Effingham Idol in 2011, complete with a gown, sash and tiara.

Burns also pushed to institute recycling in the county. Just the week before her death, she gave a presentation at a Solid Waste Association of North America meeting in Washington, D.C., and she was also on the Governor’s Task Force for Litter Abatement and Prevention.

But Burns’ commitment to her work was just one of her passions. She served several community organizations, including as an American Cancer Society ambassador for the 12th Congressional District and a board member for the United Way of Effingham County.

“This has been a difficult time for our family,” Tammi said, “but we have to hold our heads up and smile as Connie would have.”

Tammi shared this comment Connie posted on her Facebook page in May of last year: “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future. It is something you design for the present.”

“So let us strive to be more like Connie, willing to serve when asked and do it with a smile and a love for life,” Tammi said.

Allen, 90, died in December following a lifetime of service to the community. He was the 1997 recipient of the Treutlen Award.

State Sens. Jack Hill and Buddy Carter and Reps. Jon Burns and Bill Hitchens presented the resolution adopted in the Georgia Senate and House “honoring the life and memory of Mr. George G. Allen.”

Burns read to the crowd the resolution that called Allen “one of (Georgia’s) most distinguished citizens” and described him as “a man of deep and abiding faith.” Allen served for many years on the Laurel Hill Lutheran Church council, and he was married for 69 years to his wife Juanita.

The couple’s three children, sons Lamar and Tommy Allen and daughter Betty Sikes, accepted the resolution that described their father as “an honest man who always kept his word” and a “loyal husband, father, grandfather and friend will be missed by all who had the great fortune of knowing him.”

Allen’s public service began when he was appointed to the Effingham County Board of Education when he was only 22. He served on the school board for 28 years, including eight as chairman.

He served several other roles in the community, including 16 years as an Effingham County commissioner, 10 of which were as chairman, 21 years on the Citizens and Southern Bank Board, and more than 20 years as a supervisor on the board of the Ogeechee River Soil and Water Conservation District.

“He gave inspiration to many through his high ideals, morals and deep concern for his fellow citizens,” the resolution stated, “and the devotion, patience and understanding he demonstrated to all were admired by others and resulted in numerous awards.”