Carey Williams has an idea.
Although he was named Decatur Citizen of the Year Saturday night at the Chamber of Commerce banquet, he’s not basking in the glory. Instead, he’s brainstorming about how to make one of his signature events bigger and better in 2014.
Next summer marks the 5th Annual “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament at the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion, and he’s doing the legwork to have the tournament recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Banking on a Reunion tradition, Williams started the tournament in 2010 as a fundraiser for the Chamber, and its popularity has skyrocketed. Last year it drew 85 teams.
His willingness to generate ideas, work hard and motivate others has led him down a path of community service that has benefited the entire county.
The Decatur native and longtime James Wood Motors employee served on the Chamber board several years before being named president in 2010-2011.
“It’s been a lot of fun, and it keeps you in the know with people,” he said. “I feel like we accomplished a lot at the Chamber during that time.”
He expanded the Chamber’s reach within the community and worked to bridge the gap between the Decatur and Bridgeport Chambers of Commerce, hoping to encourage a spirit of unity.
“I told both sides that it’s OK on Friday night to have our game faces on, but outside from that, let’s tear that wall down. Working together benefits both communities.”
Williams’ work at the Chamber led to service for the Economic Development Corp., the Look Local campaign and United Way Wise County. He also helped plan the Weatherford College Wise County gala, which raised money for local scholarships.
He said one of the most meaningful events he helped plan was the 2012 countywide fire department benefit at the Decatur Civic Center. The community effort brought in $190,000, shattering the original fundraising goal of $150,000.
“Coming up under James’ wing, you can’t help but know what it means to be involved,” he said Saturday night. “And if you’re not involved, we live in a special place, and this type of work is very rewarding.”
In the months ahead, Williams wants to get more involved with the boards on which he’s currently serving, including the Decatur Education Foundation and the Wise Regional Health Foundation.
For now, the Guinness World Record is at the top of his list – but that list is full.
Williams has two grown children, Kristen Huddleston and Colby Williams, and two grandchildren, Layton and Addy Huddleston.
He told Saturday night’s crowd that the support of his wife, Amanda, has also been a source of strength and encouragement in his community service.
“You have to have a partner that gets it, and I have one of the best,” he said.
“There have been weeks where we ate dinner at the Civic Center four times while attending different events. The Chef has looked at me and asked, ‘We’re feeding you again?’,” he said with a laugh.
As they ate another Civic Center meal Saturday night, he had no idea of the honor to come. He was surprised and humbled by the recognition.
“Really and truly, all of my mentors here in Decatur have received this award,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m close to that level but thrilled to be in that company. Being born and raised here and doing what I do, this is icing on the cake.”