Jan. 29, 2015. Charlottean Bill F. Hensley recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of North Carolina’s most valued and prestigious awards for those who have demonstrated a lifetime of exemplary service to the state. The award was presented to Hensley by his four children and seven grandchildren, on behalf of Governor Pat McCrory, in a private gathering Friday to celebrate the recipient’s 89th birthday.
Hensley’s service to the state encompassed a variety of promotional positions over 65 years, including Sports Information Director at both Wake Forest and North Carolina State Universities and Director of Travel & Tourism under two NC governors. He opened his own PR firm in 1977, through which he promoted numerous state travel and golf entities — and still does to this day.
Spearheading the state’s first successful mixed drink referendum for Mecklenburg County in 1978 proved to be one of Hensley’s most notable accomplishments. He subsequently consulted with other counties on best practices for passing the referendum.
“The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is a great honor that is the crowning recognition of a career that I have thoroughly enjoyed,” said Hensley. “I’ve loved every minute of promoting and living in North Carolina. The only times I ever resided outside the state were while serving my country in the US Navy during World War II and then as an FBI agent in Connecticut and Illinois in the early 1950s. I’ve traveled to every state in the Union, and I’m always glad to get back to North Carolina. I am so proud to call this state my home.”
Hensley was born in Asheville and graduated from Wake Forest College in 1950 with an English degree. Upon graduation, he spent time as a sports reporter at his hometown newspaper before embarking on a public relations career. Hensley has also been honored on several fronts for his sports promotional prowess, with induction into the NC Journalism and Public Relations Hall of Fame; NC Golf Hall of Fame; NC Sports Hall of Fame; and the Wake Forest University Sports Hall of Fame. He was married to the late Carol Moore Hensley for 51 years. He resides in south Charlotte and continues his promotional efforts for a handful of golf-related clients.