Tallahassee Senior Services Celebrates Eight Super Citizens

Some of Tallahassee’s most accomplished seniors will be honored at the 22nd annual Silver Stars Gala on Thursday, May 9, at 5 p.m. at Florida State University’s Dunlap Champions Club, 225 Champions Way.Organized by the City of Tallahassee Senior Services, Silver Stars is the community’s premier senior recognition event.

The eight servant leaders were singled out for their positive outlook, active lifestyle and dedication to others since the age of 60.

“The Tallahassee Senior Center’s 2024 class of ‘Silver Stars’ are superstars, and we are proud to recognize each of them for their efforts,” Mayor John Dailey said. “They epitomize active aging and selflessly giving back to the community.”

This year’s Silver Star awards recipients are:

Althemese Pemberton Barnes, 80, is a trailblazing sixth generation Tallahassee native who learned early on that every person has an important story. A leader in historic preservation for decades, Barnes is founder and Executive Director Emeritus of the John G. Riley Center & Museum. She also established the African American Heritage Preservation Network, a statewide professional museum association. In 2022, the City named a park in her honor.

Rocky Bevis, 74, the son of a funeral director, was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He says meeting people is the best part of his job. He loves to hear their stories. Bevis is known in the community for his generosity and leadership. He served for 22 years as chair of the Big Bend Hospice Board of Directors (longer than anyone), and he was pivotal in getting the Big Bend Hospice House built in 1983.

Dr. Marie E. Cowart, 87, enjoys taking art classes at the Tallahassee Senior Center and doing needlework, when she’s not busy with committee work. Highlights of the retired nurse’s resume include dean of the College of Social Sciences and professor in the School of Nursing at Florida State University. Cowart was instrumental in starting TSC’s Health Program in 1978, and in 2019, she was selected as Volunteer of the Year for her vision in planning the Westminster Oaks Memory Care Center.

Dr. Mike Francis, 78, is a U.S. Air Force veteran, and he worked on the Apollo Program at NASA. The music lover (all genres) and avid traveler also has a heart for serving his local community. A lifelong stamp collector, Francis was president of the Tallahassee Stamp and Cover Club for 21 years. It hosts monthly meetings and an annual show at the Tallahassee Senior Center. Francis has taught digital photography classes at TSC as well.

Virginia Glass, 83, acquired a strong work ethic as a child. One of six siblings on her parents’ farm in Mayo, Fla., Glass worked in the fields until she was stricken with rheumatic fever at age 12. Her dream of leaving the small town after graduation landed Glass in Tallahassee. She retired in 2017 after a career as one of the most successful real estate agents in the Big Bend. Her favorite part of the job “was making dreams come true.” Today, Glass loves finding creative ways to raise money for good causes. Her 100 Women Club has grown from 65 to 250 members who’ve raised over $350,000 for local nonprofits.

Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes, Jr., 74, is the pastor of historic Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. His road to the pulpit may have started as a child, when he was discovered preaching to the chickens in his grandparents’ yard. Holmes lives each day believing that it is “the best day.” Raised in Jacksonville, Fla., by parents who were his role models, Holmes was one of eight siblings—all of whom graduated from college. Under his leadership, the church established Bethel Towers, providing affordable housing for area seniors. Concerned about ageism, Holmes urges seniors to “live their lives with passion.”

Jack Peeples, 93, a lawyer, loves people. He believes being an only child “forces you to reach out and make connections.” The Korean War veteran earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. His personality and negotiating skills served him well in helping to reduce homelessness in Miami during Gov. Lawton Chiles’ administration. Peeples has also been recognized by the Sierra Club for his conservation work around the state. He meets regularly with two groups – the “Has Beens,” some local high-profile men who are semi-retired, and fellow veterans who connect for special occasions and military-themed gatherings.

Gloria J. Sanchez, 77, is a self-professed workaholic, whether she’s getting paid or not. She has volunteered as a tax aide with AARP for 11 tax seasons at the Tallahassee Senior Center, assisting seniors for eight hours or more, five days a week. Her degree is in social work, but after seeing an H&R Block ad in the newspaper, Sanchez received tax training in the evenings, while working a full-time day job with the State. Sanchez says her faith is an important part of her life. She believes that the key to positive aging is “being involved.”

To read the complete stories of this year’s extraordinary Silver Star award recipients, visit TallahasseeSeniorFoundation.org. Tickets for the gala are available for purchase via the site and cost $60 per person. The Silver Stars Gala is presented by the Tallahassee Senior Center & Foundation, Capital Health Plan and other generous sponsors.

Tallahassee Senior Services is part of the City of Tallahassee’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department. For more information on its programs and events, please contact the Tallahassee Senior Center at 850-891-4000 or visit Talgov.com/Seniors. You can also keep up to date by liking the Tallahassee Senior Center on Facebook