The March of Dimes has named Montgomery lawyer at its 2006 Citizen of the Year for the River Region.

Jere Beasley said he has been involved with the March of Dimes since the early 1980s, when his wife Sara, was teaching nursing at Troy State University. She was the one who first became involved with the organization.

“Like most husbands, I followed suit,’ Beasley said Tuesday evening at the Wynlakes Country Club. He was the guest of honor at the country club’s first even in its new Grand Ballroom. A crowd of nearly 400 packed the ballroom, according to an organizer of the event.

The first recipient of the honor was Todd Strange in 2004. The Rev. John Ed Mathison, pastor of Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church, was the 2005 honoree.

“Following John Ed Mathison is a pretty tough job,” Beasley joked.

The event included a silent auction with several items donated by Beasley. The items ranged from fine antiques to bean bags sporting colors of the Auburn University and University of Alabama.

Proceeds from the event benefited the March of Dimes campaign for research of premature births. One in eight children in the United States is born prematurely, while the rate in Alabama is one in six, according to the March of Dimes.

The Rev. Lester Spencer set the tome for the event in convocation. He mentioned Beasley’s commitment to “the least, the last and the lost,” but also his sense of humor.

“I’m sure he’ll need it,” Spencer said.

Eve Loeb got in a light-hearted jab as she talked about Beasley’s early days. She said he was a big baseball fan and often watched the Atlanta Crackers, a minor league team.

When his favorite player from that team joined the Boston Red Sox, Loeb said, Beasley became a Red Sox fan “and consequently a champion of the underdog.”

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