Tom Edd Wilson has been named the second Chattanoogan in the history of the Cherokee Area Council of Boy Scouts to receive the Boy Scouts of America National Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.
Wilson is president and chief executive officer of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.
The prestigious award will be presented Wednesday during the council's annual Friends of Scouting Luncheon, at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
"The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award is the National Eagle Scout Association's highest recognition," said Kevin Beirne, senior development director for the council.
"It is given to about 12 men a year chosen from 300 councils across the nation," said Beirne. To put that number into perspective, Beirne noted about one out of every 1,000 Eagle Scouts might earn the honor.
Wilson, who did not know he had been nominated, said he learned of his honor about six weeks ago.
"I was floored, and I asked them to explain it again. I was very humbled," said the honoree.
Wilson said he joined Boy Scouts at age 11 while living in Crossville, Tenn.
"It was pretty rough back then. I was in a situation that could have gone a different direction if not for Scouts. It became a role model for me, a strong influence in my life when I needed it. Boy Scouts served as a moral compass," Wilson said.
Lee Anderson was the first local recipient of the award in 2004. Anderson said he achieved Eagle rank at age 13.
"I was inspired then, and now, by the high standards and character-building ideals of the Boy Scouts. I know Tom Edd Wilson as a fine gentleman and an exemplary American. I congratulate him on his Distinguished Eagle Scout recognition and his continuing extensive civic service," said Anderson.
The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award is given 25 or more years after the honoree received his Eagle Scout award. It recognizes success in the individual's career as well as a strong record of volunteer leadership.
In nominating Wilson, Scout Executive Scott Fosse noted the national recognition and awards the city has received while Wilson has led the chamber.
"Those are due in large part to the more than $1 billion in new business and expansion investments in the Greater Chattanooga area led by Tom Edd Wilson and his Chamber of Commerce leadership team," said Fosse.
Wilson has been a Cherokee Council volunteer since 1992, when he joined its board. He has served as chairman of the board, Friends of Scouting campaign chairman and was council president for two years.
Fosse noted that Wilson was "instrumental in providing strong and consistent leadership during a tumultuous period for the council, including a five-month absence of a Scout Executive."
Wilson has served in numerous volunteer capacities for more than 16 cultural, civic and educational nonprofits.
His service to Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga and United Way of Greater Chattanooga included serving as board chairman and annual campaign chairman for both.
He is a past Chattanooga Symphony & Opera president, and was acting CSO executive director while steering the search effort for a new executive director. He is currently Rotary Club of Chattanooga president.
If You Go
• What: Friends of Scouting Luncheon
• When: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday
• Where: Chattanooga Convention Center
• For reservations: 892-8323, ext. 111
• Reservation deadline: Monday
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...