Monday, June 8, 2009

U.S. flags with a Southern touch

Dr. Burl Southern was honored Monday at the Downtown Kiwanis Club for his long uninterrupted service to the organization as well as his long-time work as leader of the club's flag projects.

Southern, an Amarillo optometrist, has an astounding 56 years of perfect attendance within the Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanis Club's major fundraiser has been the sale and putting up of flags of residences in Amarillo on five days: Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4, Labor Day and Veterans Day.

The Downtown Kiwanis Club puts out more than 2,200 flags on each of those days. Southern has been the organizer of a project that has all kinds of pitfalls of disaster. Under Southern, it has run like a Swiss watch.

"The flag project is Burl's baby," said John Miller, who announced the Burl Southern Endowment Scholarship at Monday's meeting. "Burl eats, sleeps and breathes it. To describe Burl Southern to someone who does not know him is that he's a force of nature. He's a slow-motion avalanche. Burl's understanding of the word 'no' means he just hasn't heard the word 'yes' yet."

Miller estimated through Southern's guidance, more than $1.5 million has been raised through the flag projects over the decades. As for the number of flags that have been erected in front yards, who knows?

"It has to be an astronomical number that I would have a hard time believing, much less anyone else," Miller said.

Miller also read a proclamation from Amarillo mayor Debra McCartt as well as presented him and wife Joyce a U.S. flag from Congressmen Mac Thornberrry.

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