Bishop Herbert Bevard thought he was just having lunch with a colleague on Wednesday at a luncheon by Rotary of St. Thomas II in Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef. He showed surprise then when broadcaster and Rotarian Addie Ottley called out his name as the 2015 “Person of the Year.”
Rotary officers said they honored Bevard, bishop of St. Thomas since 2008, for his extensive work restoring and preserving the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral along Main Street and St. Anne’s Church in Frenchtown.
“To receive an honor from you is really something very, very, very special,” Bevard told the gathered Rotarians while holding his prize, the Don Quixote statue given to recipients of the Person of the Year award.
“I thank all of you who are responsible for this, and I’ll certainly do my best to live up to that long list of other people that you have chosen to honor,” he added.
Wednesday’s announcement continued Rotary II’s tradition of a closely guarded selection process for the annual Person of the Year. Held secret from almost everyone, including Club President Annette Williams, the final selection was known only to a few members of the selection committee.
Ted Bast, a member of that committee, said he has known Bevard for about four years and remembers receiving a visit from the bishop when he was sick and housebound. Bast emphasized, however, that Bevard was not being honored for religious reasons but for his dedicated service to the community.
“All that work, he did without borrowing any money and without getting any money from grants, without bothering the government,” said Bast about Bevard’s restoration efforts.
Bevard’s resourcefulness was impressive, according to Bast. The bishop did not buy any materials for the restoration, focusing instead on donations and procuring materials through “hard negotiation” with stateside churches, Bast said.
Bast and Ottley, both part of the committee that selected Bevard more than a month ago, agreed that the two churches have been in need of renovation for a long time.
Bevard "was able to get the church community to really start contributing significantly, in addition to the outside help that he got,” said Ottley, who received the award himself in 1991.
Rotarians also recognized Bevard’s ongoing efforts to restore Sts. Peter and Paul School.