‘The Scout I’d like to be’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Because of Larry Willis, 35 area young men have attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He’s taken kids to 10 national scout jamborees and one world event. He’s been involved in scouting for more than half a century, and been a scoutmaster for nearly four decades.

So it was little wonder that he was named the Colonial Virginia Council’s Scouter of the Year at the organization’s Friends of Scouting dinner Thursday at the Nansemond River Golf Club.

&uot;A lot of folks look at you and talk about what integrity is,&uot; said district committee chairman Robert Lewis. &uot;A lot of folks talk a good talk, but when times are tough, only a few stand up and go through it. I knew Larry was one of those people. He’s the type of Scout I’d like to be.&uot;

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A former Old Dominion Council Merit Award and Scoutmasters Merit Award winner, Willis has won the Windsor Youth Foundation award. When he’s not helping scouts, he volunteers with the Windsor fire department. Windsor mayor Marvin Crocker presented him with a resolution from the city council, and Suffolk treasurer Ron Williams, the evening’s master of ceremonies, called Willis &uot;a living legend in scouting.&uot;

&uot;I would like to thank a lot of people,&uot; said Willis, who became a scout in 1950, an Eagle Scout in 1957 and a scoutmaster in 1968. &uot;I would like to thank my leaders, my scoutmasters, everyone. People don’t know how much it takes to run a scout troop. You can’t do it alone. It’s a team. If it wasn’t for the fine people I’ve worked with over the years, we probably wouldn’t have had a scout troop.

&uot;Thank you for tonight. Thank you for everything. Thanks to everyone who’s ever done anything for scouting.&uot;

There was one more award for Willis – a standing ovation from the crowd.

More than 70 people attended the event, quite an increase from the eight visitors last year, and roughly $7,200 was raised. The district serves 13 Cub Scout and 13 Boy Scout troops, four venturing crew and an exploring post, encompassing 375 volunteers and 750 youths. A new reservation for the area scouts is scheduled to be built in Bayport on the Rappahannock River.

&uot;Scouting is alive and well in this district,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;We’re constantly recruiting boys. We’ve gone from fall recruiting to year-round recruiting. The foundation of our program is in the young men who move up through the program.&uot;