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Rotary Club names Ruth Bruner Woman of the Year; RK Whitehead Man of the Year
Ruth Bruner and RK Whitehead

A former Gainesville City Council member of 16 years and an engineer who runs a metal die casting business were honored Monday, Feb. 10 at the Rotary Club of Gainesville’s annual banquet.

Rotary Club banquet award recipients

Woman of the Year: Ruth Bruner

Man of the Year: RK Whitehead

Sidney O. Smith Fellowship Award: Jerry Ward

W. Lee Arrendale Vocational Excellence Award: Ron Quinn

Guardian of Ethics Award: The Rev. Tom Jones

The club named Ruth Bruner as its Woman of the Year and RK Whitehead as its Man of the Year.

Marsha Hopkins, who presented the Woman of the Year award, described Bruner as “smart, witty, talented, a public servant, a leader and a loyal friend.”

“Our community is a tapestry made up of many different threads — multiple organization, activities, relationships,” Hopkins said. “One person whose life is woven deeply throughout that tapestry is tonight’s honoree.”

In addition to her time on the Gainesville City Council, Bruner has served many organizations and boards including the League of Women Voters, Gainesville City Schools Board of Education, Hall County Library, March of Dimes, Gateway Domestic Violence Center, and the Georgia Municipal Association and Legislative Policy Council. 

Bruner also held the position of mayor from 2010-2011 in Gainesville. 

Hopkins said Bruner spent 10 years working as a caseworker for Family and Children’s Services in Fulton County and operated a private home care agency for 18 years. 

Before giving out the Man of the Year award, Martha Nesbit took a moment to reflect on Whitehead’s commitment to the Hall County community. 

Whitehead studied mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, then went on to earn his graduate degree at Wharton School of Business. Nesbit said his path took a different direction after the death of his father, who owned and operated Whitehead Die Casting Co. 

Whitehead took over his father’s business in 1990, then dived headfirst into helping the community. 

He has served as chair on several boards including Elachee Nature Science Center, Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission, Lakeview Board of Trustees, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council. 

Whitehead acts as the current chair of the Northeast Georgia Health System Board of Trustees.

“The time and energy he devotes is truly amazing as he continues to be successful in his business,” Nesbit said. “Those who work with him also know that he is a perfectionist. Having served on three boards with him, I know that if there is a comma out of place in meeting minutes, he will catch it.”

The Rotary Club gave out three other awards to local community servants. The Sidney O. Smith Fellowship Award went to Jerry Ward; Ron Quinn received the W. Lee Arrendale Vocational Excellence Award; and the Rev. Tom Jones was presented with the Guardian of Ethics Award.