By Greg Hince
Aug. 6, 2012. Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson was presented with the prestigious honor of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine at a public gathering Sunday afternoon at the Jones House Community Center in downtown Boone.
The award, created in 1965, is granted by the governor of North Carolina and has been presented to some of the most influential individuals with ties to the state. Clawson, who plans to retire next year as mayor, was recognized for her decades of service to the town of Boone.
The award is named for the Longleaf Pine, the official state tree. It is believed the Order had been awarded to over 15,000 recipients who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Past recipients include Maya Angelou, Dale Earnhardt, Michael Jordan, Andy Griffith and Oprah Winfrey, among others.
“It was absolutely wonderful, not expected and thrilling,” Clawson said. “At the point I’m at now in my career, I couldn’t be any happier.”
Clawson, who spent the past week traveling across the state to a number of meetings, was presented a plaque by her longtime friend Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. She was joined at the reception by most of her family, including her son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and husband.
“It was good to see all my friends from my 48 years of service on councils and committee,” Clawson said. “I’m so used to planning things for other people that it was nice to be recognized.”
Clawson said that she is constantly being told that she is “here, there and everywhere.” Prior to being elected mayor seven years ago, Clawson worked at the Department of Transportation for two decades and the Clerk of Courts. She was also a town council member for eight years and served on a total of five state committees.
“Mom would always say, ‘what are you doing?’ and that encouraged me to stay busy,” Clawson said. “My only regret about the whole ceremony was that she passed away a year ago, and wasn’t there to see it.”
Clawson, who grew up just west of Boone, said that in her time as mayor she is most proud of her work with the school systems and the 42 meeting she attended as part of the “steep slope” regulations. She looks forward to making progress on the Boone water project before leaving office.
When Clawson retires in 16 months she said she is confident that her successors will be fit for the job. She plans to spend time traveling with her husband and has few other aspirations. However, she will still spend plenty of time in and around Boone.
“I love traveling the state and hearing people in different towns tell me how much they love Boone and how beautiful it is, it happens everywhere,” Clawson said.
Clawson prides herself on her efforts to maintain the natural beauty of Boone and the surrounding High Country. She is not reluctant to admit that it will take a lot to pry her away from the task of helping to maintain the town she loves.
“You never know I may come back and at least run for town council or something,” Clawson said. “I need to be doing something to help people, and when you get recognized for it by your peers and friends, it is such a nice feeling.”