BY VELMA SOUTHERLAND
Paul Honea of the Newmansville community received the top honor at the 124th Moose International Convention held June 28-July 3 in Tampa, Fla.
He was selected as Moose of the Year from a total international membership of 657,490, and is the first man to bring this honor not only to the Greeneville Lodge but to the entire State of Tennessee during the history of the Moose organization, Honea said.
He and his wife, Sharon, moved to Greene County from Sullivan County in 1999. He is a native of Madison County, Ala., and she is a native of Madison County, N.C.
They moved to Greene County in order to be closer to her father in Asheville.
He is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and taught in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps following his retirement from the Navy in 1994.
"For me it's kinda like winning the lottery, but better," Honea said of winning the top award. "Money can be spent, and then it's gone; this lasts forever," he said in a news release.
"And we [the Loyal Order of Moose] do a lot of great things for the children at Mooseheart, the seniors at Moosehaven, and our local community as well," Honea said.
It is statements such as these that led to Honea's being nominated by Greeneville Moose Lodge No. 692 in the first place.
According to the nomination form:
"Being one of our Lodge's best spokesmen, he has taken the Moose program throughout our community. His eloquence in presenting our purpose has created a better understanding of the service role played both nationally and locally by the Moose Fraternity.
"He has worked tirelessly for the betterment of our Lodge and Fraternity. His Lodge, Moose Legion, State Association and community have benefited from his presence.
"Our Fraternity should be proud to have a man of this high caliber as a member."
Honea was enrolled April 17, 2006. In this relatively short period of time, he has served in every elective office and on virtually all committees and as chairman of many of them, according to the nomination form.
He said that while he had always belonged to fraternal and civic organizations wherever he lived, he had "never heard that the Moose had a fraternal purpose."
Once the Honeas learned about the Moose's program to help abused and abandoned children and the elderly, they "jumped in with both feet," Honea said during a telephone interview.
He acknowledged that the Moose lodge has been their "second residence" for the last six years.
In addition to serving with his home lodge in Greeneville, Honea has volunteered and served as trustee of another "lodge for two consecutive years while serving his home lodge Board of Officers as well."
The nomination form continued: "Being active in the fraternity outside his lodge is commonplace for this Brother, as he was elected and served as Chaplain and Vice-President of his local Moose Legion.
"He has served as Secretary, Prelate and Vice-President of his District Moose Legion.
"Our nominee has attended all Moose Legion Celebrations, Association District functions, Association annual and mid-year conferences, and all International Conventions since his enrollment.
"As a strong supporter of the Moose Ritual programs, he has served as Ritual Chairman of his association for the past four years.
"Furthermore, he has been active with his Lodge Ritual and Moose Legion Conferral teams from the moment he attended his own enrollment ceremony."
The international organization's website explains that each lodge is allowed to nominate one person for the Moose of the Year award.
The website states that the nominees are blind-graded, meaning that they are chosen by a panel that has only the nomination information without knowing which individual is being described.
In addition to Honea's top honor, the local Moose Lodge also received numerous awards which will be announced later by the lodge, according to the news release.