Ed Dick's latest honor -- Manatee County's Distinguished Citizen award -- also well deserved

"Be blessed."

Ed Dick's signature farewell at every conversation's end reflects his faith, compassion and benevolence. His accomplishments over his first 85 years are legion in this community, and another award came his way this week at the VIP luncheon on opening day of the Manatee County Fair.

In accepting Manatee County's Distinguished Citizen award for 2015, Edward Keenan Dick III once again proved his humility by citing others he considered more deserving. But make no mistake, Ed Dick's priceless and selfless contributions to the welfare of others over many decades are well known -- from empowering minorities and rescuing refugees to adopting orphans and helping establish a residential campus for disadvantaged sets of siblings.

At the large banquet in October 2014 to honor him with the Sen. Edgar H. Price Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the Manatee County Rural Health Services Foundation, Dick remarked: "Probably the most important thing I did in my life was break the color line by signing Raymond Bellamy to a football scholarship (to the University of Miami, his alma mater). "It became national news."

In the early 1960s, he worked to register minority voters in Manatee County -- credited for bringing 2,000 new voters into the fold.

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Ed and his wife, Joanne, founded Refugee Inc. and brought 700 refugees to safety in Manatee and Sarasota counties with the help of churches and volunteers. The Dicks played host to more than 300 refugees in their own home over the years.

At Thursday's luncheon, Vernon DeSear cited a quote from the late Sen. Price, himself a treasure to this community. The senator once described Dick as "one of God's chosen people."

DeSear added a perfectly accurate description of Dick: "This unassuming man works tirelessly for the less fortunate and suffering."

Congratulations, Ed -- and Joanne, for she shares in his life's work and accomplishments.

And be blessed.