Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Roster of Recipients Click on the scroll (at right) for the most recent and only comprehensive listing of recipients of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, or what might otherwise be called the “membership roster” for “The Order”.  It was compiled by Phillip T. Fisher from a myriad of documents found in the Governor’s Records at the North Carolina Office of Archives & History and, beginning in 1983, from lists provided by Archives & History and the Office of the Governor. For their cooperation and valuable assistance in furnishing these lists, Mr. Fisher gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Archivist William H. Brown, Governor’s Records Archivist Mark Valsame and the Search Room staff at the Office of Archives & History. The list contains the recipient’s name (typically as it appears on the award certificate) and the month and year of the certificate or presentation date. It covers the period June, 1963 (when, according to the records, the first certificate appears to have been issued) to the present. Given the condition of the early records placed in the custody of Archives & History, the names of some persons awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine undoubtedly have been omitted. Consequently, despite the best efforts to compile the most complete and accurate listing of recipients possible, the award certificate itself remains the best, and sometimes only, reliable evidence of membership in The Order of the Long Leaf Pine and should, therefore, be treated by the recipients with the care it properly deserves. Recipients omitted from the list may, by mail or e-mail, furnish The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society a copy of their certificate clearly showing their name and award date, and their information will be added to the Roster. Origin & History Among the honors and awards the Governor of North Carolina can bestow, none is more valued than The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Since its creation in 1963, it has been presented to honor persons who have a proven record of service to the State of North Carolina or some other special achievement, and to others as a gesture of friendship and good will. Upon being named to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the honoree receives a certificate by which the Governor confers upon the recipient “…the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary privileged to enjoy fully all rights granted to members of this exalted order among which is the special privilege to propose the following North Carolina Toast in select company anywhere in the free world: ‘Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine, The summer land where the sun doth shine, Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here’s to “down home”, the Old North State!” But despite its popularity and prestige, little could be found in the public records regarding the origin of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine or its recipients. It appears that the award probably originated in the spring of 1963 during the administration of Governor Terry Sanford (1961-1965). An examination of records from the Sanford administration revealed the earliest references to “The Order” in June 18, 1963 letters from Governor Sanford to four Spanish dignitaries with whom Governor Sanford’s representative, businessman R. Walker Martin, met during a good will mission to their country. Based upon these records, they appear to have been the first recipients of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award which Governor Sanford and his Press Secretary described at the time as being given to “distinguished visitors to our State”, a “very select group of friends of North Carolina”, and “our highest honorary for special friends of North Carolina”.  The use of the terms “visitors” and “friends” together with the fact that only fourteen of seventy-six persons named by Governor Sanford to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine were North Carolina residents implies that the award was, at least in the beginning, primarily intended to promote North Carolina to persons outside the state. This would also seem consistent with two August 7, 1963 newspaper articles found by Stanly County Historical Society volunteer researcher Lewis P. Bramlett which reported that on August 6, Lexington Kentucky farm editor John Jenks (who was visiting North Carolina at the time) became the first person in the United States to be named to the “newly created Order of the Long Leaf Pine”. One of the newspaper articles also credited then State Advertising Director Charlie Parker with conceiving the award program. In attempting to further isolate the time frame in which the awards program was created, it is perhaps noteworthy that two months prior to Governor Sanford’s letters referring to “The Order”, the North Carolina Department of Conservation and Development conducted a Trade Fair in Charlotte featuring a gala “State of North Carolina Recognition Ceremony”. Television and motion picture personalities Andy Griffith and Anne Jeffreys and network news anchor David Brinkley were among the honorees present for this April 28 televised event hosted by Governor Sanford. While this would appear to have been an opportune occasion for the awarding of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, those honored were instead given silver cups (which Mr. Martin, on behalf of Governor Sanford, personally delivered to North Carolina native Ava Gardner during his good will mission to Spain). The fact that no mention was made of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine during these ceremonies nor any reference found in records preceding them, at least suggests that this awards program was first implemented sometime immediately prior to June 18, 1963, although no more specific information could be found. This lack of information is further documented in a January, 1975 letter from Governor James Holshouser, Jr. who, in responding to an inquiry regarding the origin of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, wrote “I regret that we do not have any information concerning the history, purposes, rights and duties of the members of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. It has been a tradition in our state to … Continue reading Order of the Long Leaf Pine