Vancine Sturdivant was surprised with the state’s highest civilian honor Jan. 20 during the annual Toys for Tots Banquet.
Sturdivant — who serves as an Anson County commissioner, director of Anson County Toys for Tots and is founder of Gumby’s Faith Based Center of Hope — is now on a distinguished list of recipients of the Order of Long Leaf Pine.
Vickie Daniel, clerk of Superior Court in Richmond County, and a friend of Sturdivant, made the presentation along with Anson County Sheriff Landric Reid, attorney Fred Poisson and county commission chair Ana Baucom.
Daniel described Sturdivant as kind, unselfish and Christ-like.
“Before Christmas, I approached the former senator, Gene Mclaurin, about an individual that was dear to my heart, that gives so much to the community and everybody, and does it so unselfishly,” Daniel said. “[Sturdivant] is never thinking about herself, but always thinking about other people.”
“It’s an honor to stand here tonight with humbleness and an appreciation and thankfulness to God that I know this individual because she is so deserving of this.”
Daniel called Sturdivant forward.
“My sister, it’s an honor and a privilege to stand here tonight and present you with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” Daniels said. “You deserve it.”
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards presented by the governor of North Carolina and is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
Those named to The Order become North Carolina “ambassadors,” with their names and award dates recorded on a roster maintained by The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.
Other recipients include: Maya Angelou, Shirley Caesar, Charlie Daniels, Dale Earnhardt, John Hope Franklin, William “Bill” Friday, Roman Gabriel, Billy Graham, Andy Griffith, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, and Michael Jordan.
“Vancine, I can’t think of anybody that I think deserves this any more than you,” Daniel said, adding McLaurin said he couldn’t think of a finer person to receive the honor.
Poisson said it took a week and a half to get Sturdivant on the phone to talk so he could fill out the paperwork to send to Gov. Roy Cooper.
He also read the first verse of the official toast of North Carolina, which is a tradition during OLLP presentations:
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
“I thank God, for I am not worthy of this honor,” Sturdivant said.
Vancine Sturdivant’s jaw drops as she is presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian honor, by her friend Vickie Daniel, clerk of Superior Court of Richmond County.