Distinguished Persons of the Year

1990 - 1999

William J. Allman, 1999 Distinguished Person of the Year

William J. Allman, 1999 Distinguished Person of the Year


William J. Allman

Morganton’s 1999 Man of the Year is the kind of person you want on your side.  He’s affable, dedicated and hard-working.  It is those very traits, coupled with his visionary leadership and selfless service to his fellowman that propelled the Burke Mission station into its soon-to-be-completed reality.

Working in concert with other imaginative volunteers, Bill helped conceive the idea of clustering several human service agencies into a centralized location, specifically the old Ingles supermarket on West Union Street.  But the dream didn’t stop there.  Following the adage: “Plan your work, and work your plan,” Bill and a handful of equally civic-minded men and women helped establish Burke Charitable Properties, a nonprofit group that would serve as the governing board of the project.  They then set out to raise some $1.4 million to purchase the property and renovate it as the headquarters for the Good Samaritan Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, Burke United Christian Ministries and the Burke County chapter of the American Red Cross.  Bill serves as president of the board of directors for Burke Charitable Properties and continues to be the Mission Station’s principal salesman and cheerleader.

But Bill’s service to this community didn’t begin with Burke Charitable Properties and the Burke Mission Station.  He has been cheerfully donating his time and talents to a wide spectrum of good causes for many years.  He has served on the board of Habitat for Humanity and is a past president.  He volunteers at the Burke United Christian Ministries’ Soup Kitchen, and is a board member of Grace Lifecare.  Bill has also been a perpetual leader in any number of committees and board at his church, North Morganton United Methodist.

He serves as chairman of the Burke County Board of Health and has been an active volunteer leader in several City of Morganton boards and agencies.  For example, he is chairman of the Morganton Community Appearance Commission and chairman of the CoMPAS Cable Commission, and he serves on Morganton’s Downtown Advisory Commission.

An accountant by profession, Bill is retired from SGL Carbon Corporation where, during his career there, he organized the SGL Morganton Federal Credit Union.  He and his wife Margaret have one daughter and two grandchildren.

“I really love our community,” he told a News Herald reporter when he was interviewed after his selection as Man of the Year, “I felt like once I retired I wanted to give back some of the good things that have been given to me over the years.”

The Morganton Rotary Club’s annual Man of the Year award recognizes outstanding citizenship and excellence in community service.  It’s little wonder, then, that Bill Allman, who epitomizes the characteristics the award acknowledges has been chosen as the 1999 Morganton Man of the Year.

Gary W. Leonhardt, 1998 Distinguished Person of the Year

Gary W. Leonhardt, 1998 Distinguished Person of the Year


Gary W. Leonhardt

Gary Leonhardt’s selection exemplifies the Morganton Rotary Club’s Man of the Year Award and its original purpose, of honoring a man for outstanding civic and public service work during the previous year.

The son of Carl H. Leonhard, Jr. and Mary W. Leonhardt, he was born and raised in Morganton.  He was blessed with a mother and father who not only wanted to see their children succeed, but who also provided them with a strong foundation of love and hard work.

He began employment with the City of Morganton Recreation Department in 1969 and worked as center director for two years, athletic director for eleven years and assistant city recreation director for seven years.

Promoted to Director of recreation for the City of Morganton in 1992, he has continued Morganton’s legacy of quality recreation programs and facilities for its citizens.  He is called on by almost every civic club and organization for assistance.  He is quick to offer his help and is known in the community as a person who can get the job done today.  Recognized as a strong advocate for youth and adult sports, he is respected by all for placing fun and participation at the highest level in recreation sports.

Beyond his role of an outstanding public servant as the City Recreation Director, he has been heavily involved in the life of his community.  He has been a member of the Morganton Rotary Club since 1985, serving as President during 1994-95 and secretary-treasurer for twelve years.  During his year as Club President he initiated the club’s enrollment into the Rotary Youth exchange program.  Assuming this responsibility along with the family of club member Stan and Lisa Cutts, the Morganton Rotary Club and our community hosted Net Promchai from Chiangmai, Thailand, who completed a year’s study at Freedom High School.

He has also been chairman of the Man of the Year Planning Committee and a committee member for seven years.

He organized the Burke County Sports Hall of Fame as a new Rotary program in 1993 and has served on the Sports Hall of Fame Committee since that time, currently serving as chairman.

He is chairman of the Human Relations Commission for the City of Morganton and has been a member since its establishment in 1993.

As chairman of the Host Town Committee for the Special Olympics World Games, he oversaw Morganton’s hospitality and organization for playing host to the Puerto Rican team here in June 1999.

He also serves on the July Fourth Celebration Committee and has been a member since 1987.  He is also a member of the Morganton Optimist Soap Box Derby Committee, serving on that board since 1985.

Additionally, he has volunteered his time to many ongoing community projects, which include Christmas Cheer, Senior Games, and the Boy Scouts.  Also on a volunteer level, he offers his time and talents to many civic clubs in Morganton during their special projects and events and works with the Burke County Fair Board when help is needed for special events.

An enthusiastic supporter of numerous cause and opportunities, he was honored by the North Carolina Recreation and Park Society in 1985 for his work in helping to raise funds to establish a college scholarship in the name of Morganton for a recreation major.

He was also honored by the Morganton Rotary Club as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1995.

He earned an associate of arts degree from Western Piedmont Community College, an applied science degree from Caldwell Community College and received his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from Appalachian State University.

For all of these contributions and achievements, the Morganton Man of the Year Award honors Gary W. Leonhardt.  But, it is also honored by the distinction which he brings to the company of its fifty former recipients.  In saluting him, we also salute the tradition of public service which characterizes the award and those who have received it, the former Men of the Year present here tonight in our midst and in our memory.

Ed G. Redman, 1997 Distinguished Person of the Year

Ed G. Redman, 1997 Distinguished Person of the Year


Ed G. Redman

Morganton’s 1997 Man of the Year is one of those rare leaders in the industrial complex in Burke County: he “walks the walk”-with conviction, integrity and grace.

Founder and president of Environmental Inks and Coatings Corporation, Redman has used his personal and corporate influence to improve the quality of education in this community in innovative ways far beyond rank-and-file advocacy. 

Several years ago, for example, he implemented a program to help bring parents and teachers together to facilitate personal discussion about the child’s performance in the classroom.

In addition, employees of his company bring in their children’s report cards each grading period; a committee looks over each report card and awards monetary gifts for the best ones.  The company sends a check to the school, which in turn contacts the parents.  Then the parent and the child’s teacher present the check at the school.

This program has been so successful that in 1994 it received the State Superintendent of Education’s Gold Key Award for corporate contributions to education.

But Redman’s commitment doesn’t stop there.  He also give employees times off and a cash award for going to their children’s parent-teacher conferences, held periodically during the school year.

Redman’s concern for quality education additionally extends to his time and leadership on the Burke Education Foundation, Partners in Education and on the Western Piedmont Community College Foundation.

And, he finds time to lend his expertise and wisdom to any number of caring causes within this community.  For instance, he serves on the boards of Grace Health Care, Grace Properties, the Burke Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and the South Mountains Children’s Home.

He is also chairman of the boards of Grace Life Care, Grace Ridge, Grace Nursing Care, the Morganton City Planning and Zoning Commission and the Morganton branch of First Union Bank.

Despite such a hectic schedule, Redman serves as an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Morganton and as chairman of the pastor nominating committee, which recently called a new minister.

A chemist by profession, Redman was born in Pennsylvania and received a degree in chemistry from Thiel College in Greenville, PA.  His wife is Abby and his two children are Todd and Catherine.

Redman’s association with Morganton has been marked by his unselfish devotion and active participation in projects and plans that serve to elevate the quality of life for all citizens in the community.  It is altogether fitting then, that the Morganton Rotary Club returns the favor and acknowledges, with appreciation and gratitude, Ed. G. Redman as the 1997 Man of the Year.

John T. Watkins, 1996 Distinguished Person of the Year

John T. Watkins, 1996 Distinguished Person of the Year


John T. Watkins

John Watkins has compiled an impressive record of commitment and positive activism in this community, and has built a substantial foundation of service and leadership.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, John was graduated from the University of Richmond in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree.  Then, he served as an Army Air Corps bomber pilot in the Pacific during World War II.  Following his discharge from the army, he worked as an executive with the Travelers Insurance Company, then for a number of years, he worked for the Monsanto Corporation.  Later, in Detroit, Michigan, where he made his home for many years, he went into business for himself, working as a manufacturer’s agent and selling custom-built production systems.

Toward the end of the 1970s, he began thinking about finding a warmer, smaller community in which to make his home.  Following the lead of friends who had already moved to Morganton, Watkins arrived here in 1981 and continued his business here.  His experience also led to a two-year term as executive director of the Burke Economic Development Council.

In 1989 John “retired” and continued to build upon a record of community service he’d already begun when he first arrived…

  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Burke Arts Council

  • Chairman of the Manpower Division of the Burke 20/20 Committee

  • Member of the Board and President of the Western Piedmont Community College Foundation

  • Member and president of the Morganton Kiwanis Club, and recipient of that club’s “Man of the Year” award in 1984

  • Member of the First United Methodist Church, its Property Committee, Building Committee, and Administrative Board

  • Volunteer at the Burke United Christian Ministries Soup Kitchen

  • Volunteer worker for Habitat for Humanity

  • Member of the Morganton Board of Adjustment

  • President of the Burke County Friends of the Library

  • Board member of Christmas Cheer and leader of the “Bicycle Repair Gang”

  • Board member and tutor for the Burke County Literacy Council

 John was also active in and spokesman for the campaign supporting the referendum on the sale of mixed drinks in the City of Morganton.

John and his wife Lee have been married for 49 years and are the parents of two daughters—Dell Coyne and Donna Bacon—and a son, Tom Watkins.  They have five grandchildren.

His ready smile, his contagious enthusiasm and his courageous leadership have won him a host of friends in this community.  And, in following the Rotary motto of “service above self” through his willing devotion to a wide slate of projects and causes that benefit his fellow citizens in countless ways, John Watkins has earned the distinction of the Morganton Rotary Club’s 1996 “Man of the Year.”


Fred M. Roberson, 1995 Distinguished Person of the Year

Fred M. Roberson, 1995 Distinguished Person of the Year


Fred M. Roberson

Whenever he’s needed to serve he will always be there, assisting in a quiet way with no fanfare.  That’s Morganton’s 1995 Man of the Year, Fred M. Roberson.

He is a doer, a man dedicated to helping his fellowman and his community.  He goes above and beyond the call of duty in whatever cause or organization with which he is involved.  This is especially true in Boy Scouting, to which he has been deeply committed for 53 years.

Although he was born in Cliffside, Fred has lived in Morganton since 1952.  He came here from Shelby to work at Broughton Hospital in maintenance.  He took early retirement from Broughton 14 years ago.

Fred spends countless hours and travels endless miles in his volunteer work in Scouting.  He has worked on the district committee and served on the executive board of the Piedmont Council, Boy Scouts of America, for 26 years.  A council vice president and a committee chairman, he is currently the council’s training chairman.  His outstanding record in Scouting also includes organizing more than 500 training courses, serving on 20 different scout leader advance training courses and organizing six different jamboree trips for the council.  For several years he was camp commissioner during the summer months at Camp Bud Schiele.  Over the years he has assisted in presenting Eagle awards to hundreds of Boy Scouts in Burke County.

In honor of his devoted service to scouting, he was presented the Silver Beaver award, the highest award scouting can bestow upon a volunteer.  He also received the Lamb award from his church, Calvary Lutheran Church.  This is a high national award given to Lutherans for distinguished service in Scouting.  He has served in various capacities in Scouting at Calvary Lutheran.

An active and devoted church member, Fred has served two terms on the church council.  He helped organized the Calvaliers, the senior adult group at the church, serves as its president, and drives the church van for the group’s service.  He’s a member of the service ministry board and is a former Sunday School teacher and secretary.

He is owed a deep debt of gratitude from helping with senior citizens.  He is active in the Burke County chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons and a past president of the chapter.  He helps with various AARP projects, including distribution of surplus foods.

Another cause to which he has devoted time is the Burke County Unit of the American Cancer Society.  A past crusade chairman, he is currently serving as memorials chairman and also works with the Duck Derby and Relay for Life.

On a community-wide basis, Fred is a member and immediate past chairman of the Morganton Human Relations Commission.  He has been a member ever since it was formed by Mayor Mel Cohen a few years ago.

His widespread community involvement also includes volunteering at Burke United Christian Ministries as cook twice a month.  He is a member and past worthy patron of Mimosa Chapter No. 269, and the current district deputy grand patron of the 24th District, Order of the Eastern Star.  A Mason and a Shriner, he was recently installed as the 1996 president of the Burke Shrine Club. 

He and his first wife, the late Mary Roberson, had two children, Marshall Roberson of Charlotte and Kathy Roberson of Tucson, Arizona, and two grandchildren.  He and his second wife, Maggie Lou, live on Douglas Drive in Morganton.

In spite of his rich and admirable log of attainments on behalf of this community Fred Roberson remains a humble and unassuming model of the Rotary Club’s motto, “service above self.”  His quiet, efficient hard work and generosity of spirit have made him countless friends—and not surprisingly—cast him easily into a new a worthy role, as the Morganton Rotary Club’s 1995 Man of the Year.

L.S. Inscoe, Jr., 1994 Distinguished Person of the Year

L.S. Inscoe, Jr., 1994 Distinguished Person of the Year


L.S. Inscoe, Jr.

When the call went out that volunteers were needed to help teach incarcerated young men at Morganton’s Western Youth Institution, the first to sign up was Morganton’s 1994 Man of the Year.

That easy willingness to be of service, to give cheerfully of his time and talents and to offer help wherever it’s needed are the hallmarks of L.S. “Inky” Inscoe, Jr.

Indeed, Inscoe has spent many years unselfishly sharing his time and know-how throughout Morganton and Burke County, offering leadership and commitment to make his adopted community a better place for all of us to live.

A native of Nashville, he received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from N.C. State University and was graduated from the executive program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

During World War II, he served U.S. Air Force in the European Theater as a fighter pilot; he was shot down over Germany and taken prisoner-of-war.  At the end of the war, he was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant.

He worked for Drexel Heritage Furnishings for 40 years, retiring six years ago as vice-president.  During his four decades in the furniture industry he served on the executive committee and as national secretary of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Wood Industry Division and on the board of directors of the Southern Furniture Manufacturers Association.

He also served on the curriculum committee of the Furniture School at N.C. State University and on the advisory committee at the Catawba Valley Community College.

For many years he was active in the Boy Scouts, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout himself.  He was a scoutsmaster, merit badge counselor and troop committeeman.  He served on the executive board of the 11-county Piedmont Boy Scout Council, was an adult leader at the national Boy Scout Ranch in Philmont, New Mexico, and served as a representative to the National Council of Boy Scouts of America.  For his contributions, the Piedmont Council awarded him the Silver Beaver Award, one of Scouting’s highest honors.

He has been a member of the board of directors of the North Carolina Outward Bound School since 1969, and was the first recipient of the school’s Kurt Hahn award “for good Samaritanism and compassionate citizenship.”

Additionally, he has been recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for Burke United Christian Ministries where he works in the soup kitchen at least three days a month as a hands-on volunteer. And, he was named Volunteer of the Year at Western Youth Institution where he was one of the first five members of the Yokefellow prison ministry, a service in which he remains active.

He is a member and past president of the Morganton Kiwanis Club, a member of the boards of Habitat for Humanity and Hospice of Burke County.  He also serves as a trustee of the Sam J. Ervin Library at Western Piedmont Community college and is a past member of the board of Burke County United Way.

But his service is not limited to leadership roles: he also works on Habitat houses one day a month and acts as volunteer carpenter for anything needed at First Presbyterian Church. 

Also, at First Presbyterian, he is a ruling elder, choir member, past chairman of the board of deacons, past church treasurer, and past president of the Men of the Church.

He and his wife Harriet have been married for 45 years.  They have three sons, John, a history professor at the University of Georgia in Athens; Joe, an actor in Richmond, VA; and Ray, a Presbyterian minister, also in Richmond.  The Inscoes have four grandchildren.

For all his contributions, Mr. Inscoe remains self-effacing and humble, preferring to give credit to others.  It is this quiet, devoted blueprint of care and compassion that has endeared him to this community.  It has also earned him the gratitude of all those who, like him, seek to uplift and improve the quality of life for everyone, and has led to his selection as the Morganton Rotary Club’s 1994 Man of the Year.

Otto H. Woerner, 1993 Distinguished Person of the Year

Otto H. Woerner, 1993 Distinguished Person of the Year


Otto H. Woerner

In the words of 1990 Man of the Year, the Rev. Bob Shepherd, Otto is “one of the quiet forces for good in our community.”  When asked about his preference for avoiding the limelight, Otto responds, “You don’t do these things to have somebody come up and pat you on the back.”

A Nebraska farm boy, Mr. Woerner showed his early zest for success and willingness for hard work by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering from the University of Nebraska.  After graduation, he joined R.C.A. in New Jersey and accepted a position in 1945 with H.H. Brown Shoe Company, headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Otto, now semiretired, rose through the ranks of H.H. Brown, and now 48 years later he serves as vice chairman and senior consultant.  He has been plant manager in several locations and has served on the Board of Directors since 1969.  In 1963, H.H. Brown was ready for expansion and Mr. Woerner opened their first southern facility in Morganton, Carolina Shoe Company.  In Morganton, Mr. Woerner found a high caliber workforce that was willing to work hard and eager to learn new skills.  Also, he found Morganton to offer an excellent quality of life for his family.  Otto soon mellowed from the northern pace of life and became a true southern gentleman.  Carolina Shoe Company is still an integral part of our community employing 540 workers.

Mr. Woerner has been very active in many aspects of community involvement.  He has contributed to Habitat For Humanity; helped establish the Sen. Sam J. Ervin Library; is a past president of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce; a past president of The Burke County United way; served on the Morganton Board of Adjustment; a former chairman of the local First Union Bank Board; and is currently chairman of the Morganton Planning and Zoning Commission.

Otto is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Morganton, having held numerous positions of leadership and currently serves as an Elder in the church.

Mr. Woerner has made education in Burke County a primary focus of his community service.  He is an original member of Partners In Education (PIE).  PIE is a group of twenty businesses and professional people joined together in a partnership to improve the quality of education in Burke County.  PIE initiated the action that resulted in the creation of the Burke County Blue Ribbon Education Committee.  Mr. Woerner has been especially dedicated to the success and growth of Western Piedmont Community College.  He has been a member of the Western Piedmont Foundation since the mid 70’s; has helped raise funds for the construction of five new buildings; and is constantly involved in activities to create and expand endowments and scholarships.  Otto also helped establish the Burke Collegiate Scholarship Program.  BCSP starts identifying youth as early as the sixth grade who have potential for higher education but who may not have the economic support to utilize their abilities.  BCSP offers development and enrichment through social activities, study tools, and encouragement throughout their entire high school years.  Participants also receive two years of paid education at Western Piedmont.  This program is a particular source of pride for Mr. Woerner as it embraces all citizens of our county. 

Otto and his wife Wynne have been married 53 years.  They have a son, Drew, who lives in Dunn, NC and a daughter, Kathy Miller, who lives in Lincolnton, NC.  Drew and Kathy have given Wynne and Otto seven grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

Happy to be a behind the scenes player, Otto seeks no personal recognition, but only the opportunity to serve.  His commitment to improve the quality of life of all who live in our county; his dedication to the service of his fellow man; his efforts to elevate the level of education of all our citizens; and his belief that all human beings are created equal have earned him the admiration and appreciation of all our citizenry.

Lloyd W. Turner, 1992 Distinguished Person of the Year

Lloyd W. Turner, 1992 Distinguished Person of the Year


Lloyd W. Turner

A native of Cleveland County, Turner is a graduate of Casar High School and of Appalachian State Teachers College, now Appalachian State University.  Following his graduation from college, Turner worked as a teacher and principal in Cleveland County for several years before getting into the automotive tire and service business.

Except for four years in the Marine Corps during World War II when he saw combat action on Okinawa, Turner remained in automotive service business for the remainder of his professional career.  That career included more than 30 years as co-owner of Sterling Tire Co., located at the current site of Buff Tire in downtown Morganton.  Turner retired from the business in 1979 and his years since then have been devoted to volunteer activities and to pursuit of his many interests and hobbies.

Turner has been a member of the Morganton Lions Club for 53 years and has held virtually every office and position of responsibility in the club during that time.  He is also a member and past president of the Burke County Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and has worked for years in the federal food giveaways for which that group provides volunteer labor.  Turner also headed the AARP’s ushering program at the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium for three years, lining up ushers for each performance at the facility.

Putting his skills as a teacher to work, Turner has been active for years with both the Burke Literacy Council and the adult literacy program at Broughton Hospital.  In addition, he served on the board of directors for Phoenix Group Homes for several years and was particularly active in working with the home’s Boy Scout troop.

A Mason and a member of the Shrine, Turner has worked for years in that group’s efforts to raise funds for the support of burned and crippled children’s hospitals.

Turner has also been involved in the Meals on Wheels program for several years, and each Monday delivers 16 meals to homebound elderly residents around Morganton.

A member of First United Methodist Church of Morganton for decades, Turner has held numerous positions of responsibility in the church and he is also a member of the “Friends of Al Maxwell” which adopted a street for periodic clean-up in Morganton.

A member of the Morganton City Council from 1975 to 1979, Turner’s previous honors include being named “Lion of the Year” by the Morganton Lions Club and “Volunteer of the Year” by Volunteer Burke.

In addition to his volunteer activities, Turner is also very physically active.  He water skis at Lake James as often as possible during the summer months, does a lot of hiking and used to spend a good deal of time riding his motorcycle.

Turner and his wife, Ima, have been married since 1939 and they have one son, Richard Turner.

Charles V. Burleson, 1991 Distinguished Person of the Year

Charles V. Burleson, 1991 Distinguished Person of the Year


Charles V. Burleson

It was in 1984, that Charles V. Burleson, affectionately known as “Charlie,” retired from the Westinghouse Corp. as district manager for the southeastern United States.

That same year, he and his wife Jeanne, returned to Morganton, Charlie’s hometown.  Wasting no time, Charlie went to work—this time, not to put a jingle in his pocket, but for the betterment of the people of Burke County. 

He has been active in leadership roles in the Burke County United Way and the Burke Arts Council, serving as a board member for both organizations, and he was a principal fund-raiser for Historic Burke Foundation’s Quaker Meadows Plantation Restoration project.

He has been a strong advocate of improved education and literacy and has served as a board member and past president of the Burke County Friends of the Library.

During his 36 years with Westinghouse, Charlie was a member of the Rotary clubs of both Charlotte and Raleigh.  When he returned to Morganton, he quickly joined the Morganton Rotary Club, where he worked as a volunteer and took a leadership role in many club projects.  In 1989, he was asked by his fellow Rotarians to serve as president of the Morganton club.  

And, he has been a leader and respected member in Morganton’s First United Methodist Church.  But his greatest contribution has been in assisting the less fortunate through his volunteer efforts at Burke United Christian Ministries where he was a founding teacher in BUCM’s ecumenical Sunday School class and a soup kitchen volunteer.  He served as president of BUCM, on the organization’s board of directors from 1986 to 1989, and received the BUCM Volunteer of the Year award in 1987.

It was his personal caring for and commitment to the street people and the poor of this community that, in 1989, led him to help conceive, design and coordinate, construct and equip BUCM’s drop-in center and emergency shelter for street people.  Upon completion, the center was appropriately named the “Charles V. Burleson Outreach Center.”

At the dedication of that center, then-BUCM chairman Helen Zimmerman said: “From the beginning it has truly been a labor of love.  Charlie had a vision of a place of welcome and sharing, where every man and woman would be treated as a person and a child of God, no matter what misfortune had befallen them.”

“What Charlie did not personally build or fix,” she went on, “he begged, borrowed or stole from others.  But it was Charlie who orchestrated and brought together all these efforts to their present satisfactory completion.”

Charlie’s unselfish devotion to this community and his active participation in whatever club, project or endeavor that will lift up, improve or enhance the quality of life for all of Morganton’s citizens has led to his selection as Man of the Year.

Bob D. Shepherd, 1990 Distinguished Person of the Year

Bob D. Shepherd, 1990 Distinguished Person of the Year


Bob D. Shepherd

Ask people to describe Bob Shepherd and you’ll likely hear words like “friendly,” “caring,” “out-going,” “dedicated,” “hard-working” and “service oriented.” But, because the service performed by Mr. Shepherd covers so many fields, no one phrase can really capture his true essence. 

A native of Alamance County, North Carolina, Bob credits a loving family with teaching him “service above self” almost from birth.  As an undergraduate, Bob Shepherd entertained thoughts of being an accountant and a salesman.  After graduation from Mercer University, Bob chose the ministry as his calling and received a degree from Southeastern Seminary.

Before coming to Morganton nine years ago, Bob served congregations in Jackson,

Ga., Bullock, Mooresville and Sanford, N.C.  In the early 1980’s Bob returned to college, this time as an administrator and adviser.  As Vice President for Development at Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs, Bob’s duties included taking care of all aspects of the school’s public relations, and work with alumni and college trustees. 

A call to become senior minister at Morganton’s First Baptist Church in 1982 brought Bob Shepherd to our community.  Since his arrival here, his record of service to the church, the people, the community and even the world is one to be envied.

Within the church, Bob’s service has included three terms as President of the General board and Chairman of the Executive Committee for North Carolina’s Baptist Convention.  He has served as President of the Council on Christian Higher Education and held several committee and advisory positions in the Catawba River Baptist Association.

Bob has served on the boards of three institutions of higher learning.  He was a member of the Gardner-Webb College Board of Associates and the Campbell University Board of Advisors.  Bob currently serves on the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees and Bowman Grey School of Medicine Board of Trustees.

In Morganton, Bob has been active in the Ministerial Association, serving a term as its president.  He has been a member of the board and served as president of Burke United Christian Ministries.  At First Baptist Church, Bob initiated a Hmong (Laotian) mission church and established a ministry for the deaf.

His service to his “home town” extends far beyond the white walls of First Baptist Church.  Bob served as Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Resource Council for Western Youth Institution and the facility’s Chapel Foundation.  Bob has been an advisor to Burke County Parents Without Partners and served as Chairman of the Pillar and First Vice President of the Executive Committee of Burke County United Way. 

Bob worked actively in the committees that secured the passage of the City of Morganton’s Auditorium Bonds and the Burke County School Bonds.  He was co-chairman of recruitment and chaired the speaker’s bureau for the Burke CROP Hunger Walk and personally raised nearly ten percent of the total pledged during the first year of the walk.

Bob is past president of the Burke County Council on Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency and past chairman of the Western Piedmont Community College Chaplaincy Committee.  Bob also served on the Save the School Committee for North Carolina School for the Deaf.

A Rotarian since 1963, Bob has served in a variety of chairmanships and has been president-elect for both the Sanford and Mooresville clubs but in both cases was called to other posts before he could assume the presidency.  He has been a Board member of the Morganton Club and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship…the highest honor bestowed by Rotary.

Married to the former Dolores Vinson, Bob and his wife are the parents of two daughters, Karen Johnson of Fayetteville and Vicki Morgan of Chapel Hill, and two sons, Dale Shepherd of Southern Pines and Noel Shepherd of Winston-Salem.