Sunday, October 18, 2015

My friend Jim

For an award that is so prestigious, it's a curious thing that there have been a whopping 17,810 recipients since the first Order of the Long Leaf Pine was issued by Gov. Terry Sanford back in June 1963. (See here and click on roster.)

That was 52 years ago.

If you do the math, that comes out to 343 recipients per year — or almost one per day.

Jim Lippard displays his Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
 Yet somehow, the recognition seems as humbling, as special, as well-deserved as any that there is. Indeed, it is regarded as the most valued award a civilian can receive in North Carolina. Recipients include the likes of Michael Jordan, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Billy Graham, Dale Earnhardt, Dean Smith, Andy Griffith, and, locally, former Dispatch publisher and Barbecue Festival founder Joe Sink, civic leader Jack Briggs and artist Bob Timberlake, to name a few.

Now you can add the name of my friend, Jim Lippard, as the latest honoree. That happened Saturday night near the conclusion of the 14th annual Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony when Lippard was surprised — totally and fully — as he was presented with the framed certificate by Rev. Dr. Lee Jessup and John Horne, both of whom set Lippard up with a comedy skit.

It's great when a complete surprise meets your full anticipation. The whole idea for the award came through the combined efforts of Lip's three daughters: Jamie Bell, Lisa Davis and Julie Barker. And let's not forget the full support of their mother, Ann.

Good job, ladies.

I can't think of a more deserving fellow. I've known Jim for about as long as I've lived in North Carolina, and that dates back to 1976. I was covering Post 8 American Legion baseball for The Dispatch, and Jim seemed to be haunting as many ballfields as I was. He was an amateur photographer — for Post 8, I guess — and he happily clicked away ballgame after ballgame.

Before long, he found himself as the Post 8 athletic director, taking over when Russell Craver — a founding father of the team back in 1945 — could no longer perform those duties.

Lippard faced a crisis when Jim Leonard Post 8 suddenly found it impossible to financially sponsor the team. Incredibly, Lippard — a popular and respected tailor by trade — became a ram-rodding fundraiser for the team. In the next two decades he scared up hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep Post 8 on the field. Some of it was his own money.

In 2000, he was inducted into the North Carolina American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.

Lippard became commissioner of Area III in 2008, and the next thing you know, the North Carolina state championship series was held at Holt-Moffitt Field last year.

As if that weren't enough, Lippard was tossing around another idea: why wasn't there a Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame? Well, Lippard took care of that, too, establishing a hall of fame 14 years ago. Since then, well over 100 recipients have been inducted into the local hall. In 2009, Jim was one of them. He is now in his second stint as chairman of the board of directors.

So, yeah, there are 17,810 Long Leaf Piners out there. But every now and then, one of them stands out pretty large.

Congratulations, my friend.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to you Jim. What a wonderful choice to receive the Order of the the Long Leaf Pine! Thanks for sharing the story, Bruce.