Shepherd named 2024 Citizen of the Year

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Each year, the Crenshaw County Chamber of Commerce recognizes individuals who exemplify exceptional dedication to their community. This year, the  Chamber announced Dale Shepherd as the 2024 Citizen of the Year. 

The prestigious honor will be celebrated at a banquet Thursday, April 11 at 6 p.m. in the Dei Center at Luverne United Methodist Church. 

Nominees for the award are selected based on various criteria, including their civic-mindedness, history of volunteering, contributions to the welfare of the county and community, participation in charitable activities and leadership roles within churches or the community.

According to Luverne Public Library Director Kathryn Tomlin, Shepherd stands out as a shining example of selfless service and commitment. Tomlin said she nominated Shepherd for her dedication to community service, which has left a notable mark on those around her.

“As a member of the Friends of the Library, I know I can depend on Dale being ready to help with any program or project we have going on,” Tomlin said. “I feel that she deserves recognition for all she does for so many organizations in our area.”

Shepherd’s roots run deep in Crenshaw County. She is the daughter of the late Conrad and June Summerlin and a 1967 graduate of Luverne High School. Shepherd furthered her education at Auburn University and later attended Ida V.Moffett School of Nursing in Birmingham. 

Earning a Bachelor’s of Science in anesthesia from Sanford University in 1978, Shepherd has made significant contributions to Alabama’s health care sector. Her professional journey led to Birmingham Baptist Hospital and Vincent Hospital before she returned to her hometown of Luverne where Shepherd worked at Crenshaw Community Hospital (CCH) as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) from 1990 until her retirement in 2011.

Jessica Folmar, current director of nursing at CCH, worked with Shepherd for over three years at the hospital and described Shepherd’s enduring spirit of service. 

“Dale Shepherd is a beacon of hope for those who want to go above and beyond to help others,” Folmar said. “Even in retirement, she has helped to maintain the hospital courtyard as well as helped with other hospital events. Her selflessness is unmatched as she continuously gives back to the community without the expectation of anything in return or any recognition. Dale’s genuineness and dedication to helping others makes her a true gem in our community.”

Apart from her dedicated healthcare career, Shepherd’s fervor for gardening and community engagement radiates brightly. She is a master gardener and is actively involved in the Luverne Garden Club, where she participates in diverse projects including maintaining flower beds in the hospital’s courtyard, at the Emmaus Cemetery and at the library. 

Shepherd is a founding member of the Fullers Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, a longstanding member of the Luverne Garden Club and Kiwanis Club. She also serves on the Emmaus Cemetery board. 

According to Tomlin, Shepherd’s remarkable contributions and unwavering dedication stand as a shining example of community spirit and selfless service in Crenshaw County and the Citizen of the Year award serves as a fitting tribute to her outstanding achievements and enduring legacy.

For more information about the Citizen of the Year and the reservation-only banquet, contact the Crenshaw County Chamber of Commerce at 334-355-6200.