MOULTRIE -- Ray Goff returned to Moultrie on Wednesday to present an award at the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association's District III banquet on Wednesday at Moultrie Technical College and took the opportunity to praise the professionals and volunteers in a line of work he knows well.

His father, Jim Buck Goff, started the recreation department in Colquitt County and ran it for 38 years until his death in 1991.

Ray Goff watched as his father operated one of the most successful programs in the state and has a high regard for what those in recreation do for their communities.

"I appreciate what you do," he told recreation officials. "You could have made a lot more money doing other things. But you invested your life in people."

Goff presented the Jim Buck Goff Award, named for his father and honoring the professional who has made outstanding contributions to recreation. It is the highest honor given to a district professional.

The award went to Michael Coleman, director of recreation in Americus.

Ray Goff grew up on the recreation gridirons and baseball diamonds of his hometown and went on to an outstanding career as a Moultrie High Packer and Georgia Bulldog.

Goff credits much of his success to his father and to the volunteer coaches who worked with him as a youngster, including Kurt Scheub, Saxby Chambliss, Darrell Strange, Lewis DeMott and others.

The annual banquet presented awards to others who have made outstanding contributions to recreation in their communities.

One of the district's special recognition awards went to Moultrie's Rocky Jones, the longtime volunteer coach and sponsor of youth athletics.

Jones, who died earlier this year, was praised by the Moultrie-Colquitt County Parks and Recreation Department's Lynn Bennett for his "giver's heart."

Bennett noted that Jones often gave anonymously to help programs that he himself had taken advantage of when he was a youngster.

The district presented three Volunteer Awards to those "with modesty and without much fanfare" work in their communities, Bennett said.

One of the three Volunteer Awards went to the A.F. Shaw Gladiators, a group of Moultrie senior citizens under the direction of the recreation department's Samuel Stewart.

The group is involved in a number of community projects, including providing for hospitalized veterans, mentoring youngsters, visiting nursing homes, providing toys for children who have lost parents and others.

Other awards presented at the banquet were:

- Special Recognition Award to the late A.B. Malloy, who was a softball umpire in Southwest Georgia for for 65 years and formed a softball umpires association.

- A Special Recognition Award to Thad Hugh "Bo" Knight, who worked in maintenance for the Lee County recreation department and who died last year.

- Volunteer Award to Triple S Pallet of Adel.

- Volunteer Award to Albany Beverage.

- The Administrative Support Award to Toni Shealey, the secretary at the Adel-Cook County Recreation Department.

- The Agency of the Year Award to the Thomasville YMCA.

- The D.L. Lastinger Awards, honoring excellence in park maintenance, to Steve Scott of the Valdosta Recreation Department and Danny Ritter of the City of Bainbridge.

- The Mary Roth Awards for excellence in programming to Greer Cox of the Thomasville YMCA and to Catarina Orr of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Recreation Department.

- The W.L. "Cut" Edwards Awards to Darius Harris of the Americus and to Robin Byrd.

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