Wilfong named Ruston Rotarian of the Year

Rusty Wilfong (left) receives his Rotarian of the Year plaque from Ruston Rotary Club President Jerry Pye during last Wednesday’s meeting. (Courtesy Photo)

by Malcolm Butler

Just like clockwork, Rusty Wilfong headed to Rotary Club for the weekly meeting last Wednesday.

However, this one would be far from just any normal Rotary Club meeting for Rusty.  No, this meeting would be a little more special.

Rusty, who has been a member of the civic organization for close to seven years, was presented the 2022-23 Rotarian of the Year Award that day by Ruston Rotary Club President Jerry Pye.

“To see the smile on his face was priceless,” said Pye. “He was totally surprised. It makes your day to see someone who deserves it win this type of award and be so appreciative and excited about it.”

Most anyone who has lived in Lincoln Parish for any length of time knows Rusty, or at least knows who he is. You can’t go to a Louisiana Tech football tailgate or to a jambalaya fundraiser for a community organization or to almost any type of goodwill event without seeing the grizzled smile of Rusty Wilfong, especially if cooking food is involved.

He is all about helping people. And he is usually doing it while elbow deep in a pot of something good to eat. The man loves to cook almost as much as he loves to help others.

Rusty said he was surprised but very honored with the award.

“There are a lot of really fine people in the Rotary Club,” said Rusty. “All of the guys in there do so much.  To win Rotarian of the Year is a huge honor for me. You could pick any of the guys in there, and they would be deserving of it.”

Although Pye agrees that the Rotary Club is full of great community leaders and servants, he felt that Rusty was the perfect recipient for the award.

“Clearly he deserved it,” said Pye. “He has been deeply involved in the community and he does a lot through Karl Malone and his dealership. We want to thank Karl for allowing Rusty to be so active in the Rotary Club and in the community.”

Rusty, who works at Karl Malone Toyota, said his passion for the local community has always been part of his make-up. However, he acknowledges that working for a man who has the same strong beliefs in community and a servants heart only fuels his own.

“Being in the Rotary Club and working for someone like Karl inspires you to do more,” said Rusty. “Both of them are always there to help people. They have the same strong community beliefs.”

Pye said Rusty was involved in numerous projects throughout the year, highlighted by the jambalaya fundraiser in late March as well as the raffle for the cooking trailer. All of these events raise funds that allow the Rotary Club to provide help to individuals and organizations within the community.

“He was involved in a lot of our projects from the word go,” said Pye. “He was just involved with about everything we did. He was involved with DART, although that’s not a Rotarian thing. But there were a lot of times that we helped cook for other entities, and the Rotarians were a part of it.  He was one of the key people that was always involved in those projects. And he obviously was active in the Rotary Club.”

Now Rusty has a new piece of hardward proudly displayed in his office at Karl Malone Toyota.