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Dr. Joe and Betty Willoughby reign royal with perfect ball attendance

Roy and Ruth Barker, left, Marie and Richard Jordan, Dr. Joe Willoughby, standing, Cletus McWilliams, former state representative and secretary to the state Supreme Court, and businessman Ronald Ligon met in November 1971 to organize the Heritage Foundation.

If there was ever two people deserving of a royal coronation in support of preservation it is Dr. Joe and Betty Willoughby, whose extraordinary attendance record—not one absence in 40 years—have catapulted them to king and queen status of the 2013 Heritage Ball.

They were taken completely by surprise at a recent ceremony by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County staged at Williamson Medical Center.
“We had planned to crown them at our Sponsors and Table Hosts party a few weeks ago, but they were unable to attend,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation.  “So we worked with Steve Smith at Williamson Medical Center to cook up a luncheon there for them to attend.”
Dr. Willoughby, who still practices medicine, as well as tends to his three farms, says the honor was “totally and completely unexpected.”
“Betty was just swept off her feet that day,” said Dr. Willoughby as he prepared to leave his medical office to go cut hay on one of his farms.
“Dr. and Mrs. Willoughby have never missed a Ball,” said Pearce. “But their involvement goes way beyond that. Dr. Willoughby was very instrumental, a driving force, in seeing that Historic Carnton Plantation was saved and turned into a house museum.”
Dr. Willoughby, who has called Franklin home since 1960, has been extremely involved in the community and in historic preservation.  
“This one is the cream of the crop,” said Willoughby. “It’s a very special honor.  I’ve always been pleased to support the Heritage Foundation. They always have, and continue, to do so much for Williamson County.”
He says he applauds Mary Pearce for her guidance of the organization.
“She’s a little bit of a bulldog; she gets things done,” he said with a chuckle.  

Posted on: 9/18/2013


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