Since 2003, the New Pittsburgh Courier has honored men from across the greater Pittsburgh area for their professional excellence and dedication to the community. This year’s list of 50 men gathered with family, friends and colleagues for a sold out awards reception at the Rivers Club that drew more than 300 people Nov. 19.
“It’s humbling and it makes you want to work that much harder. I have the deepest appreciation that anyone can feel to be noticed,” said Rev. Dr. William Curtis. “To a large degree I try to make sure I not only serve my members, but the community at-large.”
Like Rev. Curtis, the other honorees expressed their gratitude for being noticed. Several awardees also said it was especially important to be recognized by the Black community and an African-American newspaper in particular.
“I grew up in Pittsburgh my whole life and the Courier is huge to me so it was a humbling honor that I was selected,” said honoree Chuck Sanders. “The African-American community period has shown a lot of love to me.”
“Anytime you can get recognized by an African-American paper, it’s an honor,” said honoree Sean Gibson. “I’m thankful to the Courier for recognizing my work with the Josh Gibson Foundation.”
This year, the Courier added two special honors to their list. One was in recognition of Dee Thompson, a former general assignment reporter for WPXI-TV who recently retired in September. Thompson served the community for 35 years, providing coverage on a variety of topics from sports to weather to news.
Another special recognition was given to police officer Eric Guy Kelly, who was killed in the April standoff in Stanton Heights after responding to a call when he was off duty. Fellow honoree Allegheny County Jail Warden Ramon Rustin accepted the award on behalf of his fallen colleague who served with the Pittsburgh Police Department for 14 years.
“I think it’s great to be recognized for the work that we do in the criminal justice system,” Rustin said. “I’m especially thankful to be in the company of the other men who are all strong leaders in our city.”
ROD DOSS, DEE THOMPSON AND TIMYKA ARTIST
This year’s list encompassed a wide range of professions from presidents and CEOs to educators and community activists. The men represent the best of what African-American males have to offer and many said they hope their achievements serve as inspiration to Pittsburgh’s young men.
“I think it’s really special in the sense that the perception of African-American males has been so downgraded,” said honoree Oscar Worthy. “It’s an honor to be able to stand up and accept an award and become a role model for my character and hard work. Character lasts forever, talent comes and goes.”
The evening’s emcee was WPXI/PCNC TV news reporter Timyka Artist. The reception’s sponsors were University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Urban Settlement Services LLC, Macedonia Baptist Church, Eat ‘N Park, Geneva College and Real Times Media.