Rotary salutes character, integrity

Newton-Conover Rotarians presented the Dr. William T. MacLauchlin Award on Tuesday night, and just like the annual award's namesake, this year's recipient is a club member "exemplifying nobility of character and personal integrity."

Newton-native, World War II veteran and career contractor Glenn E. Yount was presented with the "Dr. Mac" award during Newton-Conover Rotary Club's annual Rotary Night at Catawba Country Club. Yount, 94, has been a Rotarian for 26 years, is the club's senior member and attends club meetings regularly.

"My grandfather has given me many life lessons over the years. The most important being to always treat others with respect and compassion, and to be generous," Yount's granddaughter, Ashley Yount wrote in an essay, "My Hero."

"He truly lives by those beliefs and has spent the last 94 years of his life living by the word of God and giving back to his community," she wrote.

Born in north Newton in 1917, Yount graduated from Newton-Conover High School in 1934, attended Appalachian State University for two years and graduated with honors and a degree in architectural engineering from N.C. State University.

In 1941, he joined the U.S. Navy, which sent him to Ohio State University to study diesel engineering. He soon became the chief engineer on the LST No. 1, the first Naval ship to travel down the Mississippi River. He also studied Naval architecture at Michigan State University.

Yount's Naval career spanned 14 years, including four years of stateside service during World War II and 10 years in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

After WWII, Yount returned to Newton and continued his service, this time in his hometown. After his father donated land on South College Avenue, Yount built Holy Cross Lutheran Church at cost and then donated back to the church the money he was paid. He was the congregation's first president and served for three years.

This was just one of many projects Yount completed during his Catawba County career. His contracting company employed about 65 people, and, as his granddaughter Ashley put it, his "passion for his work and his compassion for others made him easy to work with."

"Glenn has worked with many upcoming congregations drawing plans for building churches and assisted the member sin ssecuring funding for their place of worship," said N-C Rotary Club's MacLauchlin Award Committee member Teresa Biggs on Tuesday. "He has built many homes, churches, industrial properties and an elementary school."

Yount's last project was the remodeling of the SALT Block in Hickory from 1984-86. That facility is still home to the Hickory Museum of Art, Catawba Science Center, United Arts Council of Catawba County, Western Piedmont Symphony and Hickory Choral Society.

Yount currently lives in the home he built on South College Avenue more than 60 years ago. He continues to serve as an elder at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.

His wife Laura died in their home in September 2010, only three months before the couple's 70th wedding anniversary.

"Every night he thanks the Lord for giving him another day with his family and prays for the success of his church," Ashley Yount wrote. "I have watched him become weaker as he aged into his 90s, but I have never once seen him lose his faith in God and his zest for life."

Named in honor of Dr. William T. MacLauchlin, the award presented to Yount on Tuesday is given annually to a deserving Rotarian who puts "service above self." A charter member of the Newton-Conover Club, "Dr. Mac," as he was affectionately known, was the award's first recipient.