04/19/05 — Borden roasted, toasted for service to Boy Scouts

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Borden roasted, toasted for service to Boy Scouts

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 19, 2005 1:45 PM

Friends and relatives roasted and toasted Lee Borden to a turn Monday night as he received the Distinguished Citizen Award for his volunteer work with the Boy Scouts.

Borden was well-done by the end of the dinner, an annual fund-raiser by the Tuscarora Council's Torhunta District. The sale of banquet tickets raised $105,000 for the Boy Scouts -- 165 percent of the council's goal.

Borden has long been associated with scouting. An Eagle Scout himself, Borden served for many years on the council's board of directors. He was president for two years and also was chairman of the council's major gifts committee.

Council executive Bill Lappin praised Borden's leadership ability, noting that the council was meticulously organized. He said Borden recruited "some of the best future council presidents I've ever worked with."

Most of the evening's laughs, however, came at Borden's expense.

Borden said he was glad to see that his brother, Martin, of Raleigh and his sister, Martha Robertson, of Winchester, Va., were in attendance so they could see for themselves that people in Wayne County "wear shoes and know how to serve something besides barbecue when we hold a big event."

His siblings read a poem they wrote about him, saying they felt sorry for Goldsboro being so desperate that it had to choose their brother to receive the award. Being so humble and naive, they said, he probably came to the dinner because he thought he would "get to eat some roast."

Volunteering comes with a price, Borden told the gathering of about 200 people at the Goldsboro Country Club. He said that he overheard his daughter praying one night when she was young, ending with the plea, "... and God bless Daddy, he's in a meeting."

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Borden returned to his family's textile business, Borden Manufacturing Co., becoming the fourth generation of his family to be involved with the company. He remained with the family business as executive vice president until it was sold in 1997.

Currently, Borden is executive vice president of Real Estate Advisors.

The roasters took Borden to task for his thriftiness. His business partner, Charles Royal, noted that they are still using the old Borden Manufacturing stationary in their new business.

"We don't buy anything unless we don't have something that already works," Royal said.

"His most favorite saying is, 'free beer, my two favorite words in the same phrase.' Our bookkeeper said last winter, 'Lee's not here. I'm turning the heat up.'"

Royal said friends mistakenly believe Borden appreciates fine dining. The reality, he said, is that Borden "just likes to eat."

Royal didn't leave his partner unturned, however. He toasted Borden's respect and appreciation for other people and his enthusiasm for volunteering, saying he couldn't find a better partner, in tennis or in business.

At at the end of the dinner, Borden thanked his roasters "for letting me be absolutely humiliated."

"It was more fun than a trip to the proctologist," he said.