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Lawson, Westfall honored at annual Rotary Club of Gainesville banquet
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Emily "Sissy" Lawson speaks after accepting The Rotary Club of Gainesville’s Woman of the Year Award from Mayor Danny Dunagan on Monday night at the Chattahoochee Country Club during the Club’s Annual Banquet.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan had fun reliving many youthful antics while presenting the Woman of the Year Award at the annual Rotary Club of Gainesville banquet.

Dunagan described the girl with the convertible as someone with a great sense of humor.

“She never got in trouble like the rest of us,” the mayor quipped. “She’s shy ... she’s got mischief in her eye.”

Just like that, Dunagan introduced his dear friend — Emily “Sissy” Lawson — a political trailblazer in Gainesville and the first woman to become the city’s mayor.

The Man of the Year Award went to Dr. David M. Westfall, a lieutenant commander in the Navy who went on to become a physician and the Georgia Public Health Department District 2 director.

In presenting the honor to Westfall, Jane Hemmer read a few words from Gov. Nathan Deal: “I’m especially thankful for his service to the Georgia Department of Public Health.”

Deal and the state’s first lady, Sandra, attended the banquet as special guests of the Rotary Club of Gainesville.

Westfall picked up his award, acknowledged the recognition and applause and took a seat at the table of honor with the governor.

The vivacious Lawson, however, took the microphone away from Dunagan.

“I want to thank the Rotary for this award,” Lawson said. “I’m a rotary legacy.”

Dunagan called Lawson a “bridge builder,” who also became the first woman to be elected to public office in Gainesville and Hall County by winning a seat on the Gainesville City Council.

Lawson refuses to slow down, even in retirement.

“It’s great to be retired, but you never get a day off,” she said.

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