Dawsonville-native James Styles was recently awarded the 2017 Spirit of Young Harris award.
The award is presented annually to an alumnus or alumna of Young Harris College who is a shining example of faithful service to YHC and dedication to his or her community and family.
Styles graduated from Young Harris in 1947.
His wife, Betsy Styles, accepted the award on his behalf during the Half Century Club Dinner and Alumni Awards Ceremony as part of the College's Alumni Weekend on April 22.
Styles received his calling to the ministry at Wesley's Chapel United Methodist Church near Dahlonega when he was 17 years old. He decided to serve circuits of small churched while pursuing his associate's degree from Young Harris College.
After graduating from the College in 1947, he went on to earn his bachelor's degree at Jackson State University in Alabama and later received his masters of divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1954.
In 1951, Styles was appointed a deacon in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and received his Elder's Orders three years later.
Following his ordination, Styles served at several churches in North Georgia, including Lavonia United Methodist Church where he met his wife of 56 years, Reverend Betsy Pittard. Together, the couple had two children, Rachel and Rob.
While serving at Lavonia, Styles accepted a call to the chaplaincy and was commissioned in the United States Air Force, where he faithfully served for 22 years in Alaska, Japan, Turkey, England, Virginia, Georgia, Maine and Texas until his retirement from active duty in 1976 as a Major.
He continued on to finish his studies in clinical pastoral education at Emory University Hospital and was appointed the first full-time Minister of Visitation at Decatur United Methodist Church where he served in this role until his retirement from the North Georgia Conference in 1993.
On Aug. 14, 2015, Styles lost a long and valiant battle with Alzheimer's disease. He spent his last years determined to further the understanding of the disease, and was an active participant in research studies during his 12-year fight with the disease.
He remained a steadfast supporter of YHC until his final days. As an expression of their devotion to education, he and his wife endowed The Reverend James Robert Styles, '47, and The Reverend Betsy Pittard Styles Scholarship to benefit students at YHC. After his death, the family opened his safe deposit box and found the money he has received from conducting funerals and weddings with a note attached reading, "Please give to Young Harris College."