Shaw Trustee and Alumnus George C. Debnam Honored by M&F Bank
June 28, 2012 –At last week’s annual shareholders meeting of M&F Bancorp, parent company of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, LeRoy T. Walker Sr. and George C. Debnam were honored with the fourth annual Mechanics and Farmers Bank Founders Award.
The bank launched the award in 2009 to honor and maintain a connection to the historic institution’s heritage. The annual award recognizes individuals or entities that embody its founding principles based on hallmark values or attributes of the men who established the bank in 1907.
M&F Bank board member Lenny Springs made the first presentation in memory of Dr. LeRoy T. Walker Sr. Walker, a legendary figure in college athletics and the Olympics who passed away last month, was “a great friend and supporter of M&F Bank. In fact, when he was named chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Walker gave M&F Bank associates Olympic lapel pins so that they could feel a part of the Olympic experience,” Springs stated.
Springs said despite the accolades and acclaim Walker received, he remained a humble man who preferred to be called “Coach” rather than “Dr. Walker” because “Coaches are in the community…when you call me ‘Coach,’ it means you’re my friend.”
Walker’s son, LeRoy T. Walker Jr., planned to accept the award on behalf of the family, but health concerns prevented him from doing so. Reached by telephone, he described his father as a visionary.
“Thinking outside of the box was just natural for him. What I’ll miss the most were those everyday father-son talks that so often turned into what he called ‘teachable moments.’ Over the years, I learned so much just by being there during those moments.”
Walker’s daughter, Carolyn Walker Hopp, also was unable to attend.
Dr. George C. Debnam was presented the Founders Award by M&F board member Joseph M. Sansom, who said he has known Debnam long enough to be able to name the things Debnam loved most: “God, family, Shaw University and Mechanics and Farmers Bank.”
Debnam, a math whiz who entered college at age 15, enjoyed a medical career that spanned just over 50 years. During that time, he delivered 11,500 babies, performed more than 5,000 surgeries and frequently followed the lives of his patients from birth through adulthood. The medical practice he established, and later shared with the daughters who followed in his footsteps as physicians, focuses on providing health-care services to a large segment of the Raleigh metropolitan area that was typically underserved. With his late wife, Marjorie, Debnam founded the Friends of Distinction, which provided mentoring and life skills coaching to over 700 young black men from the 11th grade through college graduation.
“I first opened my account with Mechanics and Farmers at 15 years of age, and from then until now I have never put a nickel in any other bank,” he said.
Added President & CEO Kim Saunders: “We feel honored to count Dr. Walker and Dr. Debnam among the M&F family. They have personified the principles on which this institution was founded and on which we still stand. What’s more, they modeled those principles for their own families, their communities and for everyone within their spheres.”
This story was originally published by the Triangle Tribune on June 12, 2012.