SOUTHHAVEN, Miss. — To honor hard working people across the nation on Labor Day, Dickies Workwear announced its 2003 state and national winners in the 12th Annual American Worker of the Year Awards.

The 2003 Mississippi Worker of the Year is 37-year-old mechanical contractor Phillip Vickery of Southhaven. He was nominated by his wife, Patricia, who wrote in her winning essay, “He is six foot two of solid American man, strong as an ox, but caring and helpful to those in need. He carries quite a load on his shoulders without complaint, and he has my utmost respect.”

Vickery, who also volunteers at the local battered women’s shelter doing maintenance and repairs, runs a small heating and air conditioning business in addition to his job. A father of three, he says he's always been happy to do “whatever it takes to support his family.”

“I'm honored that she did this for me,” he said. “I'm not sure whether to jump up and down or cry.”

One national and 50 state recipients were selected from thousands of entries, written by appreciative spouses, parents, co-workers, friends, kids, bosses, etc. Entrants were asked to write in 100 words or less why their nominee represents “the spirit of the American worker” and deserves recognition.

“Reading these honest, heartfelt entries reaffirms what we know about the strength and character of the men and women in the American workforce,” said Bob Scott, senior vice president of marketing and merchandising for Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. of Fort Worth, Texas.

Each of the 50 state winners, which include a volcano firefighter, a registered nurse, a laundry manager, an assistant principal, a city utilities worker, a hardware store owner, an apple orchard farmer, and many others, will receive over $500 in cash and prizes. The national winner will receive a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 SXT Quad-Cab pickup truck, and an all-expense paid trip to Nashville to appear in the American Worker of the Year Awards ceremony, broadcast live from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry on September 19 at 8 p.m. CDT.

Publication date: 09/08/2003