Lewellen given award for public service | Collierville Independent


More than 600 people filled the main ballroom at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn to pay tribute to the most deserving recipients of the Dunavant Public Servant Awards and hear keynote speaker Sen. Lamar Alexander.

James Lewellen, Collierville town administrator, and Criminal Court Judge Christopher Craft were recognized for their notable dedication as public servants with the Dunavant Award presented by the Rotary Club of Memphis East.

The award is named for the late Bobby Dunavant who diligently served as Probate Court Clerk and has been described as ‘the finest clerk in the judicial system’ and ‘the model public servant’. The characteristics displayed by Dunavant serve as the basis for selection of Award winners.

Lewellen, who began his career in Collierville in 1995, was honored on April 21, as 2013 Nonelected Public Servant Recipient. Just as the Award namesake, Dunavant, was described as “a man of purpose,” Lewellen manages Collierville with sincere purpose and a kind heart for the citizens and the other 480 public servants employed by the Town.

Sen. Alexander, in his remarks referenced the significance of role models as an important lesson in public life.

“I am proud of James and pleased the Rotary Club of Memphis East recognizes his leadership and service to the community,” Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner said. In testament to James Lewellen as a proven role model, Mayor Joyner said, “James gives continual commitment to his job and to the Town of Collierville.”

Collierville Vice Mayor Maureen Fraser, who prepared and submitted the nomination of Lewellen for the award said, “He is a highly effective Town Administrator and proud public servant. He is accessible in everything he does and to anyone he deals with and always exhibits character, insight and involvement.”

Collierville was well-represented to see one of their own receive the much-deserved recognition. In addition to several town employees, Mayor Stan Joyner and Aldermen Jimmy Lott, Billy Patton and John Worley were also in attendance. Collierville Historian Clarene Russell, the Collierville Chamber staff and Board of Directors and other Collierville businesses came out to show their support.

As he made his way from his seat onto the dais to accept the Award, Lewellen touched the shoulder of wife Loren seated by him. With a smile and nod of gratitude through applause and a standing ovation, Lewellen began brief thanks and remarks.

“The greatest of all I want to thank is Loren. She has carried the burden of our family so I can do my job,” he noted.

They are parents of three, a daughter who is a junior at Mississippi State, another daughter, a sophomore at Collierville High School and one son, a fourth grader at Collierville Elementary.

Also in the audience were Nancy McBride, his mother-in-law who he said, “if all mother-in-laws were like Nancy, there would be no jokes about them,” lifelong friend Carol Edgeston and nephew Mitch Lewellen.

In remarks, as he graciously thanked the Rotary Club, the Dunavant family and acknowledged fellow recipient Judge Chris Craft, the 2013 elected public servant.

“I am humbled by this award,” Lewellen said. “Thank you.”

He also acknowledged Collierville, a “community that has been very good to me” and said, “It is inspiring to work with a group of elected officials who lead by example.”

A native of Ripley, Miss., he received a bachelor’s degree in education from Mississippi State University and Master’s in public policy and public administration.

Previously he was director of planning and development in Southaven Miss., and was chief planner Germantown, becoming assistant administrator in 1993.18230