LARGO — Her husband got there first, dashing through the raindrops to help set up the church fellowship hall at 7 a.m. She came an hour later to help greet the 150 guests as they arrived for a steaming-hot breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon.
Tasker and Daisy Beal usually are around to coordinate the annual Greater Ridgecrest Community Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration hosted by Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. But Monday, something besides volunteer work was in store for Daisy Beal.
Near the end of the service honoring the memory of the slain civil rights leader, Daisy, 62, was summoned to the podium by Patrick Helms, a deacon of St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church, and given the 2011 Community Servant Award for the Greater Ridgecrest Community.
"This is someone who has endured and pressed on despite life's obstacles,'' Helms told the crowd. "She is a servant befitting King's honor.''
It was the same award Tasker Beal, 61, received in 2007.
With 28 family members on hand to watch the ceremony, Daisy, a breast cancer survivor who is currently struggling with sarcoidosis, lymphedema and neuropathy, was overwhelmed.
Through tears, she used the moment to thank her friends and neighbors in Ridgecrest, an unincorporated area outside Largo, "for all the loving care.''
Daisy and Tasker Beal have spent countless hours tending to the people of Ridgecrest, according to Wanda McCawthan, a coordinator of the event. "The honor is for Daisy's behind-the-scenes work throughout the years, working wherever she is needed,'' she said.
Daisy and Tasker were childhood friends who attended Pinellas High School together. They married at St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church in Ridgecrest before Tasker departed to finish his senior year at Bethune- Cookman College, where he received his physics and math degrees.
When he returned, they began raising their two children, Steven, now 39, and Angela, 40. All the while, Daisy taught Sunday School, coordinated food at neighborhood functions and visited the sick and shut-ins of the community.
She also kept a watchful eye at home while Tasker, a senior physicist/facility manager at Constellation Technology Corp., pursued such endeavors as after-school tutoring, building homes for low-income residents and serving as president of the Friends of Ridgecrest.
Although Tasker's name might be more well-known than his wife's, don't be fooled, said her daughter, Angela.
"My mother is just as forceful as my father,'' she said. "When it comes to earning this award in the community, she deserves it because of her love of everyone.''
Daisy's brother, Willie D. McClendon, who is the pastor at Shiloh, emphasized her strength and guidance. "She is the oldest of my sisters, and she has always been a mother to all and the boss of the family,'' he said. "She also is one who keeps Martin Luther King Jr.'s work alive.''
When the program was over, as her husband helped clean up the hall, Daisy stood at the door hugging and thanking her friends.
She wouldn't say whether she felt worthy of the award. But she did offer up her key to success.
"Love. It's all about love.''