04/24/07 — Pate receives local BSA honor

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Pate receives local BSA honor

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 24, 2007 1:50 PM

Mike Pate of the Pate-Dawson Co. was named the recipient of the 2007 Wayne County Distinguished Citizen Award Monday night at the Torhunta Boy Scout District's annual banquet.

Organizers say it was the most well-attended banquet they remember, with 240 people present at the Walnut Creek Country Club.

The annual fundraising banquet netted more than $22,000 for scouting programs. Tuscarora Council Scout Executive Harold Keller said more people who were unable to attend have said they will send a donation to the council in Pate's honor.

Pate has been actively involved in scouting for decades, having served on the Boy Scout Committee at the First Presbyterian Church and as assistant Scoutmaster. He has also been an Explorer leader.

Speakers described how well-loved Pate is among his friends, business associates and his family.

Pate is a Goldsboro native and the grandson of J.H. Pate, who founded the family business in 1885 as a retail grocery operation.

His youngest son, Tim, said his father was actively involved in shaping the food service industry in the region, and "although he stayed focused on building, he always took time to spend with his family."

Pate, 75, became a Cub Scout and joined Troop 6 at age 12. Two years later, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He was so popular among his fellow Scouts that he was chosen in 1947 to carry the American flag during the World Scout Jamboree held on the outskirts of Paris, France.

Pate joined the Navy after starting college and spent four years as a corpsman, tending to the wounded. He eventually returned to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and upon graduating, went into the family business.

He worked in every facet of the business from sales and delivery to inventory control and purchasing until his father, J.M. Pate Sr., died in 1963. At that time, he became president of the company. Today Pate is chairman of the board of Pate-Dawson and its chief executive officer.

On Monday night he was roasted for his emotional game of golf and racquetball, his frugality and his unruly hair. His barber for the past 45 years, Kirby Dudley, said Pate was under the dryer getting a permanent wave one day when a man walked past, saying, "That's the homeliest woman I ever saw."

Pate took the ribbing with characteristic good humor.

Dortch Langston described Pate as a "tenacious, very aggressive athlete. He's one of the best all-around athletes I've ever found .... I always wondered how he could do it .... If I ever went to war, I would want Mr. Pate on my side," Langston said.

During the banquet, Mike Jochim and Gary Butler of Pocahontas Foods USA, presented Pate, an avid outdoorsman, with a new shotgun. Butler described him as "one of the finest people I've ever met."