Awards, Lincoln, wedding blessing, birthday

Kenneth Johnson with his award and medal at his job at Homewood Suites.

Matt Stamey/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.

The smile that is always on Kenneth Johnson's face and the quick wit that is just as much a part of his personality helped Johnson win the Spirit of Service Award given quarterly to employees who work for hotels under the Hilton Worldwide Inc. umbrella.

The award is the highest form of team-member recognition given by Hilton.

Johnson, who has worked as a front desk representative at Homewood Suites Hotel in southwest Gainesville for the past 16 months, received a certificate of appreciation, a glass plaque, medallion and monetary gift.

"I came out looking pretty good," Johnson said.

He was nominated for the award by his supervisors because he is routinely mentioned by name in online customer service surveys.

"The award has to do with the service that is provided to our customers and also to our team and we feel that Kenneth represents that very well," said Danielle Hunter, general manager of McKibbon Hotel Management, which manages Homewood Suites. "We have several customer satisfaction surveys that mention him by name and TripAdvisor has flourished with his name to validate what our customers say about him." is a free travel guide and research website that contains reviews from people about their stays at hotels and other travel-related issues.

Some of the survey comments about Johnson include: "Kenneth was the best hotel personnel I ever experienced;" "Kenny was so friendly at check-in" and "His superb customer service helped our family to relax and enjoy our stay during a difficult time."

Johnson, 49, is a 1981 graduate of Buchholz High School. He is married to Charnice Johnson. The couple have six children.

He said he found out about winning the award at an employee celebration he thought was being held to recognize the entire staff for meeting and exceeding its sales target.

"When the global president of Hilton got on the phone and started talking about the award, I honestly wasn't paying attention until he started reading verbatim from the nomination that was sent in on my behalf, which I had not seen," said Johnson, also the minister of music at Old Jerusalem Baptist Church in the Monteocha community.

— Cleveland Tinker

Lincoln class

The Lincoln High School Class of 1963 celebrated its 50th reunion in August.

To kick off the celebration, there was a meet-and-greet at the home of classmate Aaron Green. There also were two nights of fun, reminiscing, a seafood fest and live entertainment at the home of classmate Susie Mosley.

Some classmates even went on a weekend cruise to the Bahamas, while others stayed in Gainesville, where they held a picnic at Cone Park and attended worship services at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church, followed by lunch at a downtown Gainesville restaurant.

During the picnic, classmates shared what the 50 years have meant to them and the blessings they have experienced during that time. Some former Lincoln teachers also particpated, including football coach Jessie Heard, shop and specialty teacher Titus Harper, and assistant principal Oliver Jones, son of the late A. Quinn Jones, the first black principal in Gainesville. Bernice Dukes, widow of principal John Dukes Jr., also attended reunion events.

In addition, the mothers of classmates Ola Mae Vinson and Yvonne Crawford celebrated the weekend reunion, too. They were Christine Vinson and Marion Crawford.

Classmates attending the events traveled from Georgia, Mississippi and Washington, D.C. as well as from all of Florida.

Wedding blessing

The children of G.W. and Cynthia Mingo — AnneMarie and Gerald Mingo — surprised their parents recently with a wedding blessing ceremony and reception to mark the couple's 50th anniversary.

The ceremony, which was attended by more than 150 family members and friends, was held at Mount Olive AME Church, where the Mingos worship, and attended by some of the original members of the bridal party. Many of those who attended the event traveled to Gainesville to help the Mingos celebrate the occasion.

During the ceremony, original bridal party members also kneeled at the altar with the couple during the blessing.

A reception was held following the ceremony at the Paramount Plaza Hotel for a video presentation, food, cake and dancing.

Birthday celebration

Dr. John C. Rawls celebrated his 90th birthday with a program — and, of course, cake — last month at Mount Moriah Baptist Church.

Charles Chestnut III served as master of ceremonies.

Rawls, a retired educator and retired longtime church musician, is married to Yvonne C. Williams Rawls. They are the parents of four children: John C. Rawls Jr. of Memphis,

Gerard R. Rawls of Houston, Valencia Y. Gore of Largo and Cedric W. Rawls of Austin and the grandparents of six grandchildren, Alejandra, Sejal, Javier, Raphael, Corban and Carsten.

In 1957, Rawls was elected to the board of directors of what was then called the Alachua County Teachers Credit Union, now Florida Credit Union. He also served as acting CEO for nine months during 1995-1996. In May 2012, he retired from the board after serving for 55 years, but returned in September 2012 as director emeritus.

In 2008, the Florida Credit Union headquarters in northwest Gainesville was dedicated and renamed "The Dr. John C. Rawls Florida Credit Union Headquarters Building."

Rawls also is very active in his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Rising attorney

Christopher M. Chestnut, managing attorney/CEO of The Chestnut Firm, was recently named to the Florida Rising Stars list of the Florida Super Lawyers for 2013.

No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers who are 40 or under in the state are selected by Super Lawyers, which is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Superior scholar

Khaelyn White, a student at Eastside High School, has been selected to become a member of the National Society of High School Scholars.

The society recognizes top scholars who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, scholarship and community commitment.

Membership entitles qualified students to enjoy a wide variety of benefits, including scholarship opportunities, academic competitions, member-only resources, participation in educational programs and more.

Precious Pearls

The Precious Pearls, a group of Alachua County teen girls sponsored by the Mu Upsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and its charitable arm, the Twenty Pearls Foundation Inc., held its annual banquet to end last school year at Mount Moriah Baptist Church.

New members were introduced and the group's brain bowl team members and graduating seniors were recognized. The keynote speaker was Shayla C. Davis, a member of the undergraduate chapter who recently graduated from the University of Florida.

Seniors recognized, and the college they will attend in the fall, were: Kayla Lovett, Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, Ala.; Tyania Harris, Santa Fe College, Gainesville; Alexandria Guinyard, University of Central Florida, Orlando; Brooksie McGraw, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Lyndsay Welcome, SF College; Taylor Certain, University of Central Florida; Nataleh Howard, Florida State University, Tallahassee, and Kamille Wade, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee.

— Cleveland Tinker


Richard B. Johnson Jr., a 2013 graduate of Eastside High School, was awarded the John C. Rawls Scholarship in honor of the director emeritus of the Florida Credit Union.

The scholarship is based on financial need, academics, merit and other criteria. Other 2013 Eastside grads receiving the award were Kathryn Horter and Austin Landis.

The award totaled $2,000 each.

Richard participated on the Eastside football and basketball teams during his four years at the school and also found time to volunteer through his church and the Pop Williams Basketball Fundamentals Youth Camp.

Richard is a freshman at Florida A&M University, where he is a member of the football team.

Delta scholarships

Four graduating seniors were awarded scholarships by the Gainesville Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

The scholarships were for $1,000 each. Receiving the scholarships were: Jailyn Ke'shay McGruder, Alexandria Brianne Guinyard, Nataleh Nicole Howard and James Leonard McDuffie.

Spirit Award

Gainesville resident Sherry Sherrod DuPree was honored with the Woman of Spirit Award by the William Seymour Educational Foundation during the 2nd annual benefit gala in Upper Marlboro, Md.

A former University of Florida librarian and Santa Fe College faculty member, Dupree is nationally renown for her work as an archivist of African-American Holiness and Pentecostal church history, with collections at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, and the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top