Two life-long Union County residents were honored for their community service Monday night at the annual meeting of the Union County Development Association (UCDA).
Sam Mosley was named UCDA “Citizen of the Year.” Earlier recipients of the Citizen award have included educator and philanthropist Ann Stephens and Walter Johnson, a businessman, who served multiple terms of New Albany mayor.
Veteran Union County newspaperman Lynn West received the “Distinguished Community Service Award.” West is the first recipient of that award as the UCDA gave for the first time this year.
Sam Mosley was born and raised on a sharecropper farm in the Beaver Dam community of northern Union County. While Sam was still a teenager, he and two of his brothers, Jamie and Ralph, began performing music as “Jamie & The Dynamics.”
After military service in the Vietnam War, Sam Mosley returned to Union County, where he got together with former schoolmate Bob Johnson, who then had a band called “Bobby Johnson & The Messengers.” Mosley and Johnson improved their musical talents during the heyday of the Muscle Shoals recording industry when that small northwest Alabama town was one of the top producers of American popular music.
They developed their own urban blues style. Mosley and Johnson recorded several albums together and had a successful tour in Europe, where their recordings are still sold. They wrote songs for Malaco recording artists including Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Bland and Little Milton, earning several Gold Records.
Sam Mosley is also known for his civic work in New Albany and Union County. He is a strong supporter of public education and has done extensive volunteer work with music educators. He is known also for his work on research and writing about Union County history. He serves on the board of the Union County Historical Society, which operates the Union County Heritage Museum. He has also done extensive volunteer work with military veterans.
Sam Mosley is talented, unpretentious and a dynamic presence in the community. One would be hard pressed to name a Union Countian who is more universally loved and respected.
Lynn West was raised in Union County and studied electrical engineering at Mississippi State University. His interest then switched to the theater, and he earned a masters degree in theater from the University of Memphis. He worked as a theater director in the Wisconsin Uplands. He then returned to New Albany when his parents developed health problems.
There being little demand for theater directors in Union County, West switched careers and went to work in 1978 as a news reporter for the New Albany Gazette newspaper. He was named editor of the paper in 2001 and continues in that capacity.
Over that span of 41 years he has become the unchallenged dean of professional and responsible news reporting in Union County.
In presenting West with the first ever Distinguished Community Service Award, UCDA Executive Director Phil Nanney cited his reputation for integrity, fairness and absolute honesty as a newsman. Lynn West has worked tirelessly to improve the community in numerous ways. He has served for many years as chairman of the Union County Public Library board.