FAIRBORN — Mary Graves is used to giving.
But during Greene County’s annual report to the community April 20, the long-time Bellbrook resident received.
In a big way.
Graves was given the prestigious E.J. Nutter Award, which is handed out annually to honor and recognize persons who have distinguished themselves and brought benefit to Greene County while keeping in line with the E.J. Nutter tradition.
And keeping in line with her history of giving, Graves didn’t really want to take the award.
“I really wanted somebody else to get it,” she said after exchanging congratulatory hugs and kisses with well-wishers. “I said to her ‘No, I can’t take it.’ My daughter is a friend of Mary Nutter. I didn’t’ want it to look like collusion.”
But Graves seemingly didn’t have a choice. Ironically, that’s kind of the same way she began her long life of volunteerism. While on vacation in the early 1970s Graves was nominated to serve on the first Bellbrook Park and Recreation Board.
A note on her door told her to show up at a meeting to be inducted.
So she did.
“I just fell into it.” Graves said. “From there it was one step after another.”
She then became involved with Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools and served on the board of education for 18 years before being elected to the Bellbrook City Council in 1994. Two years later she was elected mayor, a position she held until 2011. She ended her tenure as the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history.
“Bellbrook is Utopia,” Graves said. “It is a perfect and pretty little community.”
Graves also volunteered on the Bellbrook Historical Museum Board and spent 20 years on the Sugar Maple Festival Committee. She also served on the Greene County Regional Planning Commission and the Greene County Park Board among other committees and associations related to being mayor.
Prior to the Nutter Award, Graves was inducted into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame (2004), while being named Citizen of the Year of Suburban South (1981), and Bellbrook Citizen of the Year (1979).
“I have been very lucky with my life,” Graves said.
Now 81-years-old, Graves is beginning to take it easy.
“I do not give that much of my time anymore,” she said.
Graves has already given more than her share.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.