Jimmy Burnsed
Community Spirit Award

WORDS BY Brianne Yontz PHOTOS COURTESY OF United Way of the Coastal Empire

Some may call it fate, others providential, either way you look at it, Jimmy Burnsed coming to Richmond Hill in 1989 to be part of Bryan Bank and Trust (now South State Bank) was probably one of the best things that happened to our community.

Rewind the clock 34 years and Richmond Hill looks a lot different than it does today. Both highways 17 and 144 were only two lanes; Harris Trail turned into a dirt road after Port Royal Road, Hardee’s was still there, as was Mingler’s Restaurant—where Crafted is today. There was no Publix or Kroger, and Food Lion was where Richmond Hill Medical Home is located.

The West Campus of Richmond Hill High School was the original high school—sans a football field. In those days, home football games were played at the field on Timber Trail—portable bleachers and all. Basketball games were played in the un-air-conditioned gym and what’s now the Community Education building housed kindergarten through eighth grade.

There has been so much growth and change over three decades since Jimmy started working at Bryan Bank and Trust. The former mayor of Garden City and past Bryan County Commissioner has had a front row seat as he watched Bryan County become the fastest growing county in the state and the sixth fastest growing county in the nation.

Jimmy calls Bryan County home. He and his bride Becky, of 65 years, have raised their children and have been blessed with grandchildren and great grandchildren to enjoy here. Even though he retired in 2018—after almost 60 years in the banking business—Jimmy is still very much involved in making Richmond Hill the best place to live, work, play and worship.

Jimmy understands at his very core that all of our successes start here, but so do all of our challenges, which is why he was instrumental in establishing the United Way of Bryan County and was the recipient of the UWCE’s 2018 Spirit of Advocating Award for his unwavering support for more than half a century. His involvement with United Way began over 60 years ago when the organization was known as The Community Chest.

At the recent Campaign Kick-off event, United Way Board of Directors member Catherine Grant presented the inaugural Jimmy Burnsed Community Spirit Award to a true servant leader and Bryan County champion—Jimmy Burnsed.

“It’s fitting that on the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s 85th year of service, we honor a man who has been a supporter of United Way for more than half a century and played a vital part in bringing United Way to Bryan County,” says UWCE CEO Brynn Grant. “We’re honored to name this award after Jimmy and will continue to honor annually a fellow Bryan Countian who embodies Jimmy’s community spirit.”

“I believe being a supporter and contributor to the United Way is the right thing to do to reach those in need in our communities,” says Burnsed. “In the book of Proverbs, there is a verse that we should take note of and heed. Proverbs 21:13 states, “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.”