Since 1995, the Sandy Springs Society has recognized a volunteer in our community who exemplifies the spirit of community service by contributing to the betterment of Sandy Springs and acknowledges the individual’s contributions by donating a check for $1,000 to the 501(c)(3) charity of the recipient’s choice. Individuals who are paid for their service and members of the Society are not eligible, but members’ spouses and families are.

Spirit of Sandy Springs Award 2016
Willis Lanier


Dr. Willis Lanier received several nominations for the Spirit of Sandy Spring–each of them commenting on his devotion to family and community.  Dr. Lanier began his medical practice in Sandy Springs becoming an active member of the Northside Hospital staff, and its Chief of Staff.  When he built a home in Huntcliff, he became active in the Homeowners’ Association. Since retiring, he stays constantly busy with volunteer work.  He is an active, involved member of Johnson Ferry Rd. Baptist Church, the Medical Association, and one of his favorite charities, the Sandy Springs Mission.

Willis is a graduate of Leadership Sandy Springs and continues to be involved in all of their programs.  Also a graduate of Sandy Springs Police Department’s 12 week course, “Citizens on Patrol”, he partners with Police Security to make the area and events safer like TOT.

He completed all courses to become a Master Gardener.  His work in SS gardens far surpasses the 25 hours required. At Master Gardener meetings, he greets, sets up the chairs, and provides refreshments, all homemade by himself. He spends hours and hours each week working at Heritage Sandy Springs to maintain their grounds and gardens.  After our newest park, Lost Corner, became a valuable asset to our community, Willis began spending hours there maintaining the grounds.  His work contributes to our enjoyment. Without any connection to this project, he was out on a cold, winter day planting dozens and dozens of daffodil bulbs to make the Daffodil Mile on Abernathy Rd. a reality.

Being most versatile, he is also a chef, who shares his talents with many groups. For several years, he offered “Dinner for 16” to the Sandy Springs Society’s Live Auctions, bringing in thousands of dollars for our charities. Actually, we could call him a dedicated member of our Society, as he volunteers for all of our fund raisers.  Each year Willis signed up for 2 or more shifts at our Garden Tours (more than most members, I’m sure!) For TOT, he has built shelves, racks, whatever.  During our “Turtle Mania” days, he was the force behind organizing a “Men’s Auxiliary” with bribes of pizza and beer.  He can also entertain us with his rendition of Rocky Top without losing a breath.

As one letter said, Willis Lanier personifies the Spirit of Sandy Springs, by CARING for our security, our environment, and for those less fortunate.  He spreads his positive outlook and his can-do attitude. When he sees a need he volunteers.


The recipient of the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award is chosen by an independent group of community judges from among the outstanding nominations each year.


Previous Spirit of Sandy Springs Award Recipients

1995 Kathy Klatt
1996 William Huff
1997 Eva Galambos
1998 Charles Balch
1999 James M. Anderson III
2000 Wilson McClure
2001 Willis Walter Cleveland
2002 Ham Henson
2003 Milton Gorman
2004 Linda Bain
2005 Douglas W. Kessler**
2006 Joseph Mayson
2007 D. J. DeLong
2008 Tom Umstead
2009 Guy Berger
2010 Beppie Lever
2011 Fran Farias
2012 Rich Brown
2013 Clarke Otten
2015 Bob Knox

Deceased** awarded posthumously

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Guidelines for Nominations for the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award

For an individual to be eligible for nomination for the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award, the following criteria must be met:

  • Nominees may not be members of The Sandy Springs Society; however, spouses and other family members are eligible.
  • Nominees may not be paid for their community service.
  • A minimum of two years of active volunteer service must be completed within the Sandy Springs area, but residence in Sandy Springs is not required.

The name of the recipient, selected by members of a Community Advisory Board, is announced at The Sandy Springs Society’s spring general meeting in May.

The Sandy Springs Society welcomes nominations for The Spirit of Sandy Springs Award from its own members and from the community at large. The Spirit Award will be presented at the spring Luncheon of the Sandy Springs Society.

Nomination forms should be mailed to:

The Sandy Springs Society
Attn: Spirit of Sandy Springs Award
P. O. Box 720074
Atlanta, GA  30358

For an application nomination form, click here (pdf)

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