Lillie Lee Perry Atwater seemed to know everyone in the crowded Chapel Hill Public Library conference room. The Chapel Hill native made sure to greet every smiling face that came her way with a kiss or handshake, asking about their lives and thanking them for coming.
Even though Atwater was being honored for a lifetime of service to the Chapel Hill community as a nurse, volunteer, breast cancer survivor and advocate for breast cancer awareness, she was more interested in the people around her.
“When I got the call, I was very humbled and honored,” Atwater said in reference to being named a Chapel Hill Town Treasure. “But I haven’t done anything but live in this town, really.”
Town Treasures are selected by a Chapel Hill Historical Society committee after being nominated by someone within the community. Thomas Jepsen, a retired historian and treasurer of the Historical Society, said to be considered a Town Treasure a person must be over 75 years old and have demonstrated significant service to the community for at least 20 years.
“It’s a selective process,” Jepsen said. “We never have a shortage of nominees.”