Clarksville’s Franklin Dover Receives 2019 Good Samaritan Award

February 2019

Clarksville resident C. Franklin Dover, Jr., has earned the 2019 Good Samaritan Award presented by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC).

Given to an individual whose body of good work has been so selfless and life-changing to others that it is held up as a “gold standard” of community service, the award was presented Dec. 6 in a surprise ceremony held during the Clarksville Lake Country Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Social in Clarksville, Virginia.

Dover was chosen as the 2019 Good Samaritan Award recipient from a group of nominees from across the region. The selection was made by a panel of electric cooperative leaders. Dover’s nomination was sponsored by his home cooperative, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC).

An Affinity for Helping Others

The Good Samaritan Award is a good fit for Franklin Dover. He loves people.

The North Carolina native has had two distinct careers ― first in education, then in real estate ― that may seem vastly different, but both focus on helping others.

As an educator ― coach, teacher and principal ― in North Carolina, he helped young people find their way through the difficulties of the “growing-up years.”

When he retired in 1992 as principal of Western Guilford High School in Greensboro, he and his wife Carol moved to Clarksville. There he began his second career in real estate, working with United Country Real Estate Virginia Realty.

“I love meeting people, learning what they need, and helping them find what best suits them. I love seeing people find what they’re looking for,” says Dover.

And in Clarksville, a small, friendly town at the headwaters of Buggs Island Lake, what people are looking for, sometimes, is help in keeping a community institution moving forward, or help in putting a bad situation behind them.

“At our office, we formed a cooking team,” says Dover. “We would cook for fundraisers to help individuals, groups, whoever needed help.” Community beneficiaries of the cooking team’s efforts have ranged from high school marching bands to volunteer fire departments to individuals facing steep medical bills following illness or accident.

Franklin and Carol joined the Clarksville Ruritans in 2005. Soon thereafter, the couple helped the Ruritans start holding Friday night dances in an old grocery store building a block off Clarksville’s main drag.

The idea was to create a regular local event where people could go to socialize and dance in a tobacco-free, alcohol-free environment.

“We have good, local musicians, and the entry fee is $5. This generates about $10,000 a year for the Ruritans to give back to the community,” says Carol.

The weekly dances have become something of a community hallmark in Clarksville. The space where they’re held doubles as the Ruritans’ thrift shop, so every Friday before the dance, the Dovers and other Ruritan members move all of the thrift-shop merchandise around in the building to clear a dance floor. After the dance, the process is reversed so the shop can open early Saturday morning.

In total, the Clarksville Ruritans’ fundraising efforts, including the thrift shop, the dances and other events, enabled the club to give back more than $182,000 to the community in 2018.

In Love with a Lake and a Lady Named Carol

Born in Alamance County, North Carolina, in 1938, Dover attended Walter Williams High School in Burlington, North Carolina, and got his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Elon College. He received his master’s in education at UNC Chapel Hill. He taught chemistry and physics, coached wrestling and girls’ basketball, and helped with a variety of other youth-activity functions at Mebane and Eastern Alamance high schools. He served as principal of Eastern Alamance High School and then Western Guilford High School.

“I’d been visiting Buggs Island since the early 1950s. I’ve always loved that lake,” says Dover. “Everything about it — the fishing, waterskiing; I taught a lot of kids to ski on Buggs Island.” While working as principal at Eastern Alamance, he met Carol, who was a teacher, and they married in 1985. Around that time, they bought a piece of property on Buggs Island Lake, which became their home after Franklin’s retirement in 1992.

The Dovers like to tell the story about their honeymoon at the lake. It was before they’d bought their property, so they honeymooned in a camper shell on the back of a pickup truck, at the Longwood Campground on Buggs Island’s Grassy Creek.

“Ever since I’d first seen Buggs Island, I’d thought I’d like to live on the lake. When we bought the little place on the lake, I told Bill Baker (of United Country Real Estate Virginia Realty) that when I retired, I’d come and live here and work for him. And that’s what happened.”

Baker is Dover’s co-worker and friend. In a letter supporting Dover’s nomination for the Good Samaritan Award, Baker wrote, “Franklin has lived a life of service, always putting others’ interests first.” He also noted that Dover had faced very difficult health challenges during 2018. “Against all odds, he survived and is slowly on the mend. His daily challenge is to push himself to the maximum so that he can help another person, another day.”

Award Presentation a Pre-Christmas Surprise

Dover almost didn’t make it to the Clarksville Lake Country Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Social for the presentation. He was exhausted after a day of work and Carol had to gently cajole him to attend. The award was a surprise to Franklin. When John Lee, CEO of Mecklenburg Electric, made the unscheduled introduction and announcement, the tears began to flow.

“Franklin’s selflessness and enduring commitment to his community make us very proud to count him amongst MEC’s members,” Lee said. “We know him to be caring, unselfish, humble, pleasant, kind, energetic, respectful and generous, and if you aspire to help others, there can be no greater hero, or mentor, than Franklin Dover … it is simply impossible for anyone to give any more … to their fellow man.”

Lee introduced three speakers from the community, who lavishly praised the award recipient.

Peggy Ranson, who worked with Dover at United Country Real Estate Virginia Realty before going to work at MEC, described him as a friend and an extraordinarily kind teacher and mentor who is “patient, sweet, loyal, generous, compassionate and very much public-spirited. He absolutely loves and adores the community in which he works and lives. His love of family, friends and community is constant and pure.”

Bill Baker, Dover’s co-worker, also praised his friend. Pointing to Dover, Baker said, “This man right here has had the greatest impact on me,” adding that Dover has also had “an everlasting impact on others, and generations … He is my number-one mortal man.”

Retired educator and family friend, Dr. Charles Lee, commented on the importance of Carol’s steadfast support of Franklin’s community-benevolence efforts, quipping, “Behind every good Samaritan is a great Samarit-enne.”

In presenting Dover with the award, VMDAEC President and CEO Richard Johnstone said, “Franklin is a living example of a good Samaritan and exemplifies the seventh cooperative principle of ‘Concern for Community.’ We are proud to recognize his contributions that have made such a difference for Southside Virginians.”

After the award presentation, Dover was humble when asked about his community work, and quick to credit others.

“I was totally surprised to receive this,” he said. “Clarksville, Virginia, has many hardworking, caring and giving individuals who deserve to be considered good Samaritans. It is an honor and a privilege for me to have received this award. Many friends, neighbors, hardworking co-workers deserve their share of this award and I certainly do appreciate it.”

In a brief, poignant acceptance speech delivered before his friends Dec. 6 at the chamber dinner, Dover described his daily aspiration; and in so doing he inadvertently defined the spirit of the award he had just received.

Stepping to the microphone he said, softly and simply, “All I hope for is another day to help Clarksville, Virginia.”