Longtime Franklin attorney and community leader Julian Bibb was among the recipients of honors that were presented Monday at the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee’s 28th annual Sage Awards luncheon at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs.

Bibb, who worked as an attorney for more than 40 years for the law firm Stites & Harbison PLLC and now serves as legal counsel for Franklin Synergy Bank, was the only Sage Award recipient outside of Nashville. He was joined by former Tennessee Sen. Thelma Harper, Nashville’s Bill and Sallie Norton and Nashville educator Gracie Porter as individual recipients, and Mental Health America of the MidSouth and Nashville Public Television as organizations honored.

Sports radio personality George Plaster served as master of ceremonies.  

“I’ve always admired Julian,” Bibb’s friend and fellow Franklin resident Ernie Bacon said in a video that was presented during the ceremony. “He is personable, friendly, thoughtful, a good listener, and he’s very involved in the community.

“Julian is, in my opinion, one of the foundational reasons Franklin is what it is today.”

Bibb began his career as an English teacher at Battle Ground Academy after graduating from Sewanee, then earned his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School.

Working with others, he has poured his energies into the community, championing land preservation, historic preservation and environmental stewardship efforts. 

Bibb and his wife, Jayne, have raised their children in Franklin and are currently enjoying their six grandchildren.

“I love Franklin,” Bibb told attendees at the luncheon. “I am blessed to live in a place where so many work collaboratively together. There’s not a single effort that I have been involved in that did not involve a sustained, collaborative effort of many. That’s really the key to success. It’s the key to success in Franklin and I think it’s the key to success in any community.”

Bibb was nominated for a Sage Award by Bacon and Nancy Conway of Williamson Inc.

Harper is the first African American woman elected state senator in Tennessee. First elected in 1991, she was the longest-serving female state senator in Tennessee history. She continued to break the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to preside over the Senate.

Harper has been instrumental in some of Nashville’s most historic moments such as the development of the Music City Center, the Downtown Nashville Library and bringing the Titans to town. She was also instrumental in raising funds for Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College and many non-profit organizations throughout the years.

Bill Norton is a partner in the Bradley LLC law firm. He is a certified bankruptcy specialist and an adjunct professor on bankruptcy law at Vanderbilt University Law School. Norton is a fellow of the American Bankruptcy College, editor-in-chief of a 13-volume bankruptcy law treatise, founder, former president and board member of the Tennessee Turnaround Management Association, and past president and current board member of the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute. He is an experienced civil mediator and arbitrator and served as the chair of the board for the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center for 12 years. Norton is an active member of the Downtown Rotary Club of Nashville.

Sallie Norton previously worked in the Alumni Office at Vanderbilt as director of reunions, and at Harpeth Hall as director of alumnae relations. She serves on the boards of the West End Home Foundation, the Purpose Prep Charter School and Opportunity Nashville. Norton previously served as a board member for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, past president of the Junior League of Nashville and as a board member for Renewal House. She is currently an active volunteer for Faith Family Medical Center, Leadership Nashville, Room in the Inn, Kappa Alpha Theta, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Daughters of the American Revolution. The Nortons are both active members at West End United Methodist Church.

Porter has served elementary education in Nashville as a classroom teacher, principal and elected member and chair of the Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County School Board. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University and Belmont University. In 2016, Porter received her doctorate degree in administration education from Tennessee State University. Her community involvement includes Leadership Nashville, 100 Black Women, East Nashville Hope Exchange, Nashville Beautification Environment Commission and Madison Kiwanis Club. Porter also co-authored The First Guided Reading series – Visions: African American Experiences.

The Sage Awards, presented each year since 1992, serves as COA’s signature event and fundraiser. All funds raised directly support the organization’s mission to champion informed and positive aging and serve as the area’s catalyst for collaborative solutions

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