Riverside Military Academy took the first step Thursday in establishing a scholarship fund for families who cannot afford tuition without financial assistance.
The college preparatory boarding school costs approximately $30,000 a year to attend.
With the help of seed money raised by alumnus Walter E. Smith Jr., the school held a fundraising dinner in which it conferred its Sandy Beaver Entrepreneurial Leadership Award for the first time.
The award, named for the school’s founder, was given to Frank K. Norton Sr. of Norton Agency and posthumously to Joe S. Hatfield of Fieldale Farms.
Amanda Griffin, vice president of advancement for the school, said Beaver was known for his entrepreneurial vision, successful risk-taking and leadership. She said a committee looked for the same qualities in Thursday’s honorees.
Norton said he knew Beaver and looked up to him.
“I had a tremendous amount of respect for him, so when they asked me to
receive this award I thought that was a great honor,” Norton said. “Everybody was in awe of him. ... I don’t know how you could help but be inspired by him.”
Norton said he also thinks highly of the academy.
“It’s a great school and a great part of Gainesville,” he said. “I think people ought to support it. They are essential to the community.”
Griffin said Norton was chosen for the award because of his reputation for “quiet leadership.”
Norton is the second-generation owner of Norton Agency, a real estate and insurance business, and his sons have continued in the family business.
“There aren’t that many businesses that survive three generations of ownership,” Griffin said. “It’s a strong testament to Mr. Frank Norton’s leadership in his own company.”
The award was also conferred to Hatfield, the founder of Fieldale Farms, who died in 2008 at the age of 84. His family, including his son, Joe, accepted the honor on his
“My father’s belief or mantra was not to lead from the front. He didn’t believe in having buildings named after him or roads named after him,” Hatfield said. “He believed in taking care of his people, and his people were his employees and the community.”
Hatfield said that, along with being an entrepreneur, his father was a World War II veteran and was known for his generous spirit, often giving money to people he felt needed it.
“Just helping a younger generations to get on their feet and add to the nation,” Hatfield said.
Fieldale Farms is one of North Georgia’s largest employers, Hatfield said.
Griffin said the honorees represent the entrepreneurial leadership of Beaver, and also Riverside’s growing role in Gainesville’s community.