BRADENTON -- Many words were used to describe Cliff L. Walters -- close friends called him a leader, role model, family man and the "picture of the Scout Law."
An estimated 200 people came to Manatee Performing Arts Center to show support for Walters as he was honored Thursday with the sixth annual Distinguished Citizen Manatee District "Good Scout" Award by the Southwest Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Walters, board chairman of Bradenton-based law firm Blalock Walters, received the annual award recognizing outstanding service to the community, state or nation.
"It's nice to be recognized. I don't like being the center of attention," said Walters before the ceremony with a shy smile. "I'm glad to do it if it helps the Scouts; and it's nice to have friends, family here so that's all very pleasing, but I hope the result of this is it helps the Scouts and it helps the community understand the importance of helping our youth succeed."
Walters said he first became involved with the organization in the 1960s in Louisville, Ky. The Boy Scouts of America was
important to his development, he said.
"You learn self-sufficiency by being empowered to go in the woods and camp, and the adults very much let the youth provide the leadership as it was," the 66-year-old attorney said. "If you didn't bring enough food, you went hungry. If you forgot to put enough firewood by the campsite, you got cold so it was a great learning experience."
Bob Turner, president and publisher of the Bradenton Herald and co-chairman of the event steering committee, was master of ceremonies. Soon after welcoming guests, a video montage was played on screen featuring Boy Scouts along with the national anthem.
A handful of Boy Scouts, including 12-year-old Sarasota resident Francisco Cedillo and 11-year-old Parrish resident Gabriel French, presented the colors.
Attendees dined on house salad, bruschetta chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, there was cake with drunken berries.
Two Boy Scouts -- Caleb Savage, assistant scout master for Troop 77; and Nathan Sisk of Troop 100 -- also received national BSA certificates of merit for helping save a young boy and an adult in a boating accident Jan. 30.
Manatee Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith Jr., who presented Walters with his award, said he was honored to do so.
"Cliff has, through the years, been so supportive of scouting, not only in Manatee County but throughout the state of Florida," Smith said.
"Cliff, like myself, is an Eagle Scout and so both of us have something in common and really understand how important scouting is in terms of life and what it does for boys."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.