Janell Lewis was named Horry Electric Cooperative’s Rural Lady of the Year and received the Miss Leo G. Knauff Leadership Award Friday.
Janell, a daughter of the late Alton and Juanita Tyler, grew up on a farm in the Allsbrook community. She has been married to Floyd Lewis for 57 years. They live in the New Home community between Conway and Loris, and they farm about 250 acres. They mostly grow soybeans, wheat, and corn, and they always have a garden of vegetables.
Horry Electric Cooperative’s Chief Executive Officer Pat Howle presided over the ceremony and luncheon in Conway, where ladies in HEC’s service area have watched one of their own receive this honor since 1979. Keeping the recipient’s name a secret until the presentation is very important for the selection committee, which manages to do so with the help of the lady’s family. Senator Greg Hembree, who was there to present a special award to her from the S.C. Senate and House of Representatives, said that was the reason they would have to take it to her later. If they had inscribed it, it would be public knowledge.
As Former Clemson Extension agent Bruce Johnson, a member of the selection committee, talked about the lady who was receiving the award, Janell Lewis sat with her daughter and listened. He talked about how hard she worked, how she did many jobs on the farm and is quick to go to someone who was sick or to help provide food for families that lose loved ones – which she does with a committee in New Home Baptist Church where she is an active member.
When Johnson said her husband’s name, she thought, “oh, there’s another Floyd Lewis farmer,” she said.
Then her family entered. “I was shocked and honored. I never dreamed it would be me,” she said.
Floyd and Janell have two children, Teresa and Bryan. Teresa and her husband, Keith Tindal, have two sons, Devin and Derrick. Derrick and his wife, Gabriel, gave Floyd and Janell their first great-grands, Avery and Landon Tindal. Bryan Lewis and his wife, Kelly, have two children, Sydney Grace and Benjamin Lewis.
Family is important to Janell, who took care of her parents during their last few years. “I’d do it all over again if they were here. They did it for me,” she said, adding that her parents had good lives.
Janell was too shocked to think of much to say when she received the award, but she did tell everybody there that she loved them.
She likes to tell people she loves them, she said. Those words mean a lot when you know they come from someone’s heart.
For years, the current Miss South Carolina has spoken and entertained at the Rural Lady luncheon. This year, it was Rachel Wyatt, a dancer whose platform focuses on helping people with special needs.
The luncheon and award celebrates farmers and farming. “The farmer is the backbone of the American economy. If we don’t have food to eat and clothes to wear, we’ll have rioting in the streets,” Hembree said.
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.