08/22/06 — Councilman earns Order of the Long Leaf Pine

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Councilman earns Order of the Long Leaf Pine

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 22, 2006 1:54 PM

When Goldsboro City Councilman Bob Waller was led into the Mayor's Conference Room Monday, he was surprised to see more than a dozen of his family members and friends surrounding a cake made in his honor.

"What in the world is this?" he asked. "I can't believe you're here. Wait, why are you here?"

Waller was even more shocked by the answer to his question than by the sight of his sister, who had traveled from out of town to see her brother receive North Carolina's highest civilian award -- the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

"Gosh, this is the first time I have ever been speechless," he said. "I'm very humbled and extremely appreciative."

Sen. John Kerr was instrumental in Waller's receipt of the honor and said a few words about his "dear friend."

"He's one of the great ones," Kerr told those in attendance. "Look at him, he's still working hard."

The certificate, signed by Gov. Mike Easley, is most often presented when a person retires.

Mayor Al King said Waller has "retired and come back again," and council member the Rev. Charles Williams thanked him for being a "visionary" in efforts to revamp Stoney Creek Park.

Kerr called him a "model North Carolinian."

"I'm proud to know you and proud to call you my friend," he said. "We need more people in the state of North Carolina like you. Ones who give and give."

Waller officially accepted the award from King and Kerr during Monday's City Council meeting on behalf of his family and supporters.

"I don't know what it takes, the criteria," he said. "I just hope I live up to it."

The honor is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers and many years of service to their organizations are some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected. Past recipients include Charles Kuralt, Maya Angelou, Rev. Billy Graham, William C. Friday, poet Fred Chappell and artist Bob Timberlake.

Waller was appointed to the City Council in 2002. He is married with three children and three grandchildren. He attended Catawba College and received a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Waller has been a teacher, coach and administrator and serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board, Wages Board for the Elderly and is a St. Luke UMC Trustee.

King said his service to Goldsboro residents and all North Carolinians is an example everyone should follow.

"Bob, he's one of the good guys," he said.