Even at 80, Jerry Reeves III's voice remains as strong as the live oaks in his backyard along the May River.
However, his words are as unhurried and purposeful as the river itself.
"Southerners talk real slow, and we do it on purpose," he says. "We do it to make sure we know where you stand."
So when asked to list the different local boards and councils he has served on since moving to Bluffton in 1960, it takes Reeves a while to respond.
For those efforts -- which include membership in the Bluffton Rotary Club and president of both the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society and the board of the town's Children's Center -- Reeves will become the sixth person inducted into the town's Wall of Honor since Mayor Lisa Sulka created it in 2010.
"It's a great honor," he says. "I love Bluffton so much and have loved it a long time."
Reeves lives with his high school sweetheart, Mary, on the same plot along the river he purchased 52 years ago. He says he's particularly proud of his efforts to expand and stabilize the Children's Center.
When he wasn't installing toilets, repairing air conditioners, or seeding the grass on the playground, Reeves often donated money to keep the center operating during his 20 years as a president and board member.
His dedication to the center, which provides day care to children based on their families' incomes, is driven by a fundamental belief in equality.
"Every kid needs an even start," he says. "If you can start these kids off with self-confidence, it can make all the difference."
Reeves founded Resort Services Inc. , a modest commercial laundry business, in 1972. Since then, the company has grown to a 250-employee enterprise -- now operated by his five sons -- handling 30 million pounds of linen annually from several hotels and hospitals.
Despite his achievements as a businessman, Reeves says he's proudest of the ways he has given back to his ever-growing community, a generosity he hopes newcomers will adopt.
"I'm not one of those who gets really mad about the increase in size of Bluffton, because I felt sure that what I saw here would come to draw other people," he says. "People here have always been nice, and I hope the folks that settle in now can follow the example they set."