John Brimberry named Victoria Rotary Club Outstanding Citizen of the Year
Dec. 4, 2013 at 6:04 a.m.
Updated Dec. 5, 2013 at 6:05 a.m.
John Brimberry's face flushed as he walked toward the front of the University of Houston-Victoria Multipurpose Room, shaking hands, accepting hugs and taking a few pats on the back along the way.
"Now I know why Lea (Brimberry) asked me to change out of my blue jeans," he said with a smile once he got through the applauding crowd.
Brimberry, 80, was named the Victoria Rotary Club's Outstanding Citizen of the Year on Wednesday during the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's annual membership luncheon.
The annual award goes out to citizens who have made contributions throughout their lifetime that leave a lasting effect for good, said Louis Boldt, president of the Victoria Rotary Club. Recipients also exemplify the organization's motto, "Service above self."
Brimberry's minutes-long introduction spanned a laundry list of service, including time in the U.S. Army, as a past chairman of the Boy Scouts of America South Texas Council, former chamber president and both founding director and past chairman of the Victoria College foundation.
The father of two was founding officer and director of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., founding director and participant in the Fellowship of Christians in Insurance and a past United Way board member, among other things, Boldt said.
The Grapeland native, who earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Sam Houston State University, carved out a career for himself in insurance, helping to form Professional Insurance Agents, which later sold to Frost Insurance.
He served as president and chairman of Frost Insurance until his retirement.
The honoree described his past 50 years - spent in Victoria - as a wonderful experience and said it boils down to service. Not only service within his industry, but also among people in the community.
"Thank you so much," he said, his voice breaking as he looked out at the crowd.
Daughter Lisa Brimberry described her dad as a great teacher and mentor who always worked to stay proactive within the community.
"He always tried to make Victoria a better place to be. Not just for businesses, but for families," she said.
Lea Brimberry, his other daughter, said it also meant a lot to know that he is a self-made man. He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth but instead worked for all he had.
Brimberry's wife, Alice Brimberry, stood quietly beside her daughters and husband, thanking well-wishers who stopped to greet the family after the luncheon.
Like her girls, she said she was proud of the man who had worked so hard through the years.
"He always put his family first," she said. "I think he's very deserving."
Also during the meeting, outgoing chamber Board Chairman Milton Chapman offered a look back at 2013.
Committee members worked hard, he said, and got big things accomplished.
The Small Businesses Services Committee, for instance, made it possible to record chamber events and post videos online for members who couldn't attend.
The group also facilitated a focus group with Victoria teachers, seeking their feedback on area restaurants, retail and shopping.
Those results should be available within a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Committee is working to bring a regional transportation/development conference in 2014, while the Newcomers Committee has updated newcomer packets in the works, and the Legislative Committee is considering changes to the annual Austin trip.
"I'm very proud of what the chamber has done," said Chapman, who said his role with the chamber was a broad one, likening his two-year tenure to a person rolling multiple snowballs up a hill at once.
Incoming Chairman Randy Pollard put his own twist on the snowball metaphor.
"The thing is, we've got such a great board I don't see that happening," he said of being the one rolling the snowball. "I see 18 mountain climbers ahead of me, yelling, 'Come on!'"
Pollard encouraged chamber members to take ownership in the organization. Chamber President Randy Vivian isn't the chamber and neither are Pollard or the board, he explained.
"You are the chamber," he said to the 130-person crowd. "The chamber is nothing without its members."