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Servis honored at Chamber event

July 01, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Native son John Servis, trainer of Triple Crown contender Smarty Jones, said Wednesday that growing up as a "country boy" in Jefferson County, W.Va., made him "the person I am today."

Servis, 45, was among three Charles Town natives recognized for lifelong achievements Wednesday at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce's 45th Annual Awards Banquet at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

More than 300 people attended the event.

The other two honorees were Brig. Gen. V. Wayne "Speedy" Lloyd, who retired in April as commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard, and Dr. Paul Corso, renowned cardiologist at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

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Brig. Gen. James Crawford, another Charles Town native and Lloyd's successor as commander of the 157th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va., presented him with the Distinguished Service Award Wednesday. It came as a surprise to Lloyd.

James M. Moler, 94, also of Charles Town, was named the Distinguished Citizen of Jefferson County for the year.

The chamber turned to agricultural business this year when it awarded the George E. Vickers Major Industry Awards to the Jefferson County Fair and the Jefferson County Farm Bureau.

The award is named for a former chamber executive director.

In announcing the award for Servis, Roger Ramey, vice president of Charles Town Races & Slots, said Servis dropped out of Shepherd College, now Shepherd University, over the objections of his father, a longtime jockey and state racing steward at Charles Town - to work with horses at the local track.

"He followed his calling," Ramey said.

Servis said he was fortunate that he always knew what he wanted to do with his life. He said he learned about horses at Charles Town "from some good people."

Ramey said Servis left there to work as a jockey's agent at Pennsylvania's Penn National race track then went as a trainer to Philadelphia Park, where he helped to develop a stable of good race horses, including Smarty Jones.

This year, Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but lost his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes to a horse named Birdstone.

"Every eye in the country was on Smarty Jones that day, but it wasn't to be," Ramey said. Nonetheless, Servis hit a home run for his hometown, he said. "He carried us high. We're all very proud of him."

Servis, in accepting the award, said it made him proud to be from West Virginia.

"It molded me to be the person I am," he said.

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