The REALTOR® Hall of Fame honors DeKalb REALTORS® who have made extraordinary and distinguished contributions to the real estate profession and markets in Georgia over a period of at least 20 years.
Founder and 1959 President, Mr. Benefield was a guiding force in organizing REALTORS® in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. He pioneered much of the residential development of DeKalb and surrounding counties in the 50s and 60s. During his presidency, a portfolio of maps was created of metro Atlanta showing county zoning, sewers, water mains, gas mains, public schools, public transportation, and existing and proposed highways. He was a charter member of Georgia MLS.
At age 30, Mr. Buckley became a member of the DeKalb Board, a pioneering effort since real estate boards were segregated at that time. Mr. Buckley was the DAR 1999 President and the first African American to serve on the Georgia MLS Board of Directors. In the community, he served on numerous Boards of Directors. Notably, he was the first African American appointed to the MARTA Board where he served for thirty years – which stands as the longest in the Authority’s history.
Georgia Real Estate Commissioner from 1976 until 2006 and recipient of the E.A. Isakson Award, Mr. Clark was a leader in building relationships with the Georgia REALTORS® to develop education and professionalism in the real estate business while protecting the public interest. Recognized nationally for his work, Mr. Clark has testified before the U.S. Senate and has commentary featured in several textbooks.
1971 President and charter member, Mr. Cox was the face for REALTORS® at the Georgia Capitol Building. After a 24 year career as a noted REALTOR® in DeKalb County, Mr. Cox became the first Executive Vice President of the state association in 1975, serving until his retirement in 1990. The Boardroom at the GAR Headquarters building was dedicated to him in 2005.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Hamilton joined his father at Century 21 Hamilton Realty in 1971, the same year he joined the DeKalb Association. His REALTOR® Association service included serving as the 1984 President of the DeKalb REALTORS®, serving as a GAR Metro Regional Vice President, and as a Federal District Coordinator for Georgia’s 4th Congressional District. At the national level, Mr. Hamilton served on MLS Policy Committee, Professional Standards Committee, and the Convention Committee. In 1990, he served as President of Georgia REALTORS®.
In spite of an injury from an enemy sniper’s bullet in World War II that left him paralyzed from the waist down, Mr. Harrison lived a full and productive life. He opened his own real estate business, made a successful run for Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, was the founder of Fidelity National Bank and, along with James Shepherd, was a founder of Shepherd Spinal Center. Mr. Harrison was DeKalb REALTORS® President in 1968. The DAR annual Clark Harrison Community Service Award was named in his honor.
After obtaining her real estate license, Ms. Karafotias was a successful agent for many years with Robinson Realty Group before she obtained her broker’s license and opened Karafotias Realty Company in 1979. A female minority Broker running a successful independent business for over 37 years, she broke the glass ceiling with her achievements. Ms. Karafotias has always held a position of leadership in real estate as a past DeKalb Board of Directors’ member and active member of the Georgia MLS Board of Directors.
In 1975, Don Lacy wanted to join a franchise but because of that was denied membership in the DeKalb Board of REALTORS®. Before him, no franchises were Board members in the Atlanta area. Mr. Lacy was finally approved to join DeKalb REALTORS® in 1976. Three years later, he was voted to be President of the DeKalb REALTORS®. One of Mr. Lacy’s biggest accomplishments was working for legislative change to stop taxation of brokers for their agents’ earnings. With his help on the state level, Mr. Lacy worked to open the real estate market for women to become brokers. He served as Director, President, and Treasurer of the Georgia MLS.
1973 President and REALTOR® of the Year for DeKalb and Georgia Associations, Ms. Nelson chaired the WCR Bylaws Committee and obtained the state charter. She was the first woman in Georgia to earn the CRB designation. She was local and state WCR President and Dean of GRI. She received the GAR President’s Award in 1983 and was inducted into the National Association’s honorary fraternity, Omega Tau Rho. DeKalb REALTORS® named an award for her, the Mary Nelson Spirit Award.
Ansel W. Paulk was among the first real estate brokers working in DeKalb County who formed what is now known as the DeKalb Association of REALTORS®. Mr. Paulk began his real estate career in 1945 after serving his country as a Lieutenant in the South Pacific during World War II. Mr. Paulk was chosen to be the first President of DeKalb REALTORS® in 1956. During a time when the real estate market in Atlanta and DeKalb was very competitive and not used to cooperation, Mr. Paulk was a visionary who helped DAR organize and become, at that time, the third largest local board in Georgia.
In 1970, Ms. Robinson became the first female President of the DeKalb Association. She personally contacted the 116 active REALTORS® asking them to serve and be involved. Ms. Robinson served as President of the MLS and on the committee to build our first headquarters in the Decatur Federal Savings and Loan Building (the first local board to own its headquarters). She was one of a group of leaders that led discussions on establishing a metropolitan board.
In 1965, Ms. Porter and her husband Mr. Porter Sanford III opened Sanford Realty, becoming the first African American real estate firm in DeKalb County. Sanford Realty provided a pathway for other African Americans to launch their real estate career and served on the front lines of the fight against segregation and unfair housing practices. Ms. Porter’s determination and work ethic helped Sanford Realty to grow from 5 agents to 75. Ms. Porter became the first African American woman to serve as the President of the DeKalb Association in 2003. Ms. Sanford served the DeKalb Association tirelessly on a variety of committees, received the REALTOR® of the Year award for DeKalb in 2002, and the Clark Harrison Community Service Award in 2009.
In 1965, Mr. Porter and his wife Bobbie opened Sanford Realty, becoming the first African American real estate firm in DeKalb County. Mr. Porter was often mentioned as one of the individuals instrumental in starting the movement of African Americans in Dekalb County that led to it becoming the second most affluent African American county in the United States. He was elected to the Dekalb County Commission in 1994. During his tenure at the Super District 7 post, Mr. Porter was elected the first African American presiding officer of the Commission. In recognition of his contributions to DeKalb County, the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center was named after him.
Mr. Scott was a DeKalb REALTORS® founder, the 1964 DeKalb President, and the 1968 Georgia Association President. During his Presidency, he led active committees and was involved in advocacy for the development of Highway 78 and in obtaining radio and press coverage of real estate issues. During his term, a Commercial-Industrial Division was established. Mr. Scott served as Regional Vice President of the National Association and was inducted into its honorary fraternity, Omega Tau Rho.
Founder and 1963 President and 1975 Georgia Association President, Mr. Thibadeau was also Chair of the Georgia Real Estate Commission. He was named REALTOR® of the Year by the Georgia Association and the only person to receive the award twice at DeKalb. He was instrumental in guiding GAR into a modern era by hiring an Executive Vice President and securing land for a new headquarters building as well as serving as the Building Committee Chair. He was instrumental in developing a number of residential subdivisions in metro Atlanta. He was a founder of Georgia MLS and served as its President.
Founder and 1958 President, in 1950 Mr. Thibadeau, his younger brother John, and two others formed Thibadeau, Shaw, and Brannan. By 1954, their company had become Atlanta’s leading home seller, a position they held for a number of years. In a thirty year period, he developed over forty home subdivisions in Atlanta near Emory University, in Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, and in Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties. He served as President of the DeKalb Development Association and the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, and Member of the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Committee of 100 which set in motion the creation of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority.
Mr. Weston has been elected President DeKalb Association of REALTORS® in 1978, Atlanta Board of REALTORS® in 1994, and Georgia REALTORS® in 2004. Mr. Weston was critical to establishing the multi-board agreement structure in 2001 and led the task force that structured the statewide Professional Standards Cooperative of 2011. Mr. Weston has served as the Dean of the Board of Governors of the Georgia Institute of Real Estate and has been dedicated to the high quality of education and higher learning for the future of the real estate industry.
Mr. Wickham was a licensed real estate agent and broker for over forty years in DeKalb County with the firm of Thibadeau Co. Inc. He went on to serve the DeKalb and the Georgia Association of REALTORS® in numerous leadership roles. Mr. Wickham was both President and REALTOR® of the Year of DeKalb REALTORS® in 1974. Mr. Wickham assisted in removing the act of “listing real estate” from the Georgia Common Day of Rest – before 1974, it was a misdemeanor to list real estate on Sunday. Mr. Wickham was a tireless promoter of REALTOR® education and DAR’s classroom is named in his honor.