03/07/04 — Kornegay honored for service as Wayne County magistrate

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Kornegay honored for service as Wayne County magistrate

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on March 7, 2004 2:01 AM

J. Nelson Kornegay, a fixture in Wayne County government for decades and a magistrate for the last 11 years, was recognized Friday for his devotion to his family and his church and his dedication as a public servant.

The occasion was a retirement reception for the 75-year-old Kornegay in the courthouse. He retired officially Dec. 31. But Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell, who organized the honor, said it was delayed because Kornegay had been so busy, taking a trip to Hawaii.

Kornegay received a copy of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award for a North Carolina civilian. State Sen. John Kerr presented the award on behalf of Gov. Mike Easley.

Kerr said that what epitomized Kornegay was his family and he also always gave good advice and was always truthful and practical.

Kornegay also received his magistrate's gavel on a plaque from Magistrate Frank Edmonds, a long-time colleague.

Edmonds said Kornegay was a magistrate who acted "by the book. There were no if's, and's or but's about it."

Not only was Kornegay a magistrate, but he also served on the county Board of Education, the county commissioners board and the board of directors of Wayne Memorial Hospital.

"I cannot express how I feel," Kornegay said near the end of the hour-long reception. "I am not worthy of these honors, but I do thank each of you."

Then Kornegay named a few people who had helped him. These included Braswell, his colleague on the county commissioners board; Ruth Creel, the judge's secretary; Winston Best, who served on the school board; former state Sen. Henson Barnes, and Judge Paul Wright, who swore him in as a magistrate for the first time.

Kornegay concluded his remarks, saying, "If you show love and respect to the person next to you, then the tensions of your life will fall away and you will make the world a better place to live."

Braswell said he had learned a lot from Kornegay and had relied on his expertise when they served together on the county board.

"You didn't have to be around him long to know the most important thing in his life was his family," the judge said.

County Commissioners Chairman Atlas Price recalled that Kornegay was a farm boy who went into business. "He was a dedicated man, dedicated to his church and his family," Price said. Kornegay was very sincere and did his homework when he served on the board, Price said.

Kornegay's son, Jay, said his father's character and wisdom were the cornerstones of his professional and personal life. The son said Kornegay showed those traits in each agency that he served.

The audience also was treated to several songs by Kornegay's granddaughter, Patricia Faulk, and a comedy skit by his grandson, Tyler Kornegay.

About 75 people attended the reception, including county officials, lawyers and law-enforcement officers.