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Fred Underwood honored with Chamber’s Citizen of the Year award at Annual Meeting

Thursday, April 16, 2015

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On Thursday, Fred Underwood of Decatur was presented the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce Miss Athelyne C. Banks Citizen of the Year award for his contribution and volunteer activism in the community.

The award, presented each year at the Chamber's Annual Meeting, is named after the longtime Decatur educator and honors those whose life reflects the dedication, service and faithfulness to Decatur modeled in the example of Miss Banks.

"Fred Underwood has a servant's heart, and you can see his community impact simply by driving around this city," said John Seymour, president and CEO of the Chamber. "His faithfulness to this area, his willingness to help those in need and his dedication to serving Decatur is an incredible model and witness of volunteer leadership."

A native of Russellville, Ala., Underwood graduated from Russellville High School. He attended Emory at Oxford in Atlanta, Ga., where he took a leave from school to serve in the U.S. Army at the end of the Korean War. He graduated from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture. He started his career in architecture in 1963 as the lead architect with Barr and Tune Architects based in Florence, later purchasing controlling interest in the Decatur office to start Underwood Associates Architects in 1972. During his career, he's designed buildings and projects that include Renasant Bank on Modaus Road, First National Bank of Decatur, Decatur Utilities, the addition to First United Methodist Church of Decatur, Parkview Baptist Church, Ninth Street Methodist Church chapel and education wing, the Decatur Public Library, Cedar Ridge Middle School, Chestnut Grove Elementary School, the North Alabama Regional Council on Aging, Heritage Bank, the Chamber of Commerce addition and renovation, and most recently the renovations to the Decatur Train Depot.

In his community life, Underwood has served a long list of organizations. Some of those include the Salvation Army (25+ year board member), president of the Decatur Rotary Club, board member of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber, the Decatur Concert Association, and the Boy Scouts of America. Underwood and his family have been members of First United Methodist of Decatur for more than 50 years, where he sings in the chancel choir, teaches Sunday school and serves on various boards and committees within the church.

Underwood and his wife, Lou, live in Decatur and will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary in 2015. They have four children – Julie Hall, Lisa Myers, Beth Horton and John Underwood – and 11 grandchildren.

Ms. Banks – for whom the award is named – devoted 42 years of her life to education, serving 29 of them with Decatur City Schools. She was a public school teacher, the first woman principal at Carver Elementary School and a public school administrator. The award honors a member of our community whose life reflects the dedication, service and faithfulness to Decatur modeled in the example of Miss Banks. Chamber members submitted nominations for the award, and applications were judged by a committee of past recipients.

The Chamber wishes to thank its Strategic Partners for their support.

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