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Former Long Leaf Pine Award recipient Pinky Hayden presents Cullie Tarleton with his award at Appalachian Ski Mountain last Friday. Jeff Eason | The Blowing Rocket.




Originally published: 2012-11-19 12:04:24
Last modified: 2012-11-19 12:04:57

Tarleton awarded Order of the Long Leaf Pine

by Jeff Eason

More than 100 of Cullie Tarleton’s family, friends and admirers gathered at the banquet room of Appalachian Ski Mountain on Friday to pay tribute to Tarleton and watch as he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Tarleton also had to endure a bit of a “roasting,” as two of his best friends took to the podium and mocked his fly-fishing skills and ribbed him for losing at his most recent attempt at re-election to the North Carolina General Assembly.

“I lent Cullie my waders and boots seven years ago and he still has them,” said John Calvin. “The only time I get to see them are when we go fishing together,” he said.

Added Mike Capristo, “Cullie’s the only person I’ve ever seen break two fly rods … and one of them was mine.”

A few good-natured remarks aside, the night was an opportunity for Tarleton’s friends to honor him and thank him for his service to the community.

“I’m here as a special representative of Gov. Bev Perdue,” said Pinky Hayden, organizer of the event. “She wanted to be here to present Cullie with this award, but she was not able to at this busy time of transition.”

Tarleton said that he had been on the giving end of these awards on many occasions.

“I have had the pleasure of presenting this award, but never expected that I would receive one,” Tarleton said. “I have enjoyed my years of public service and it has been an important part of my career.”

Tarleton thanked many of the people present who worked with him and other local Democrats during this past election cycle, including Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman, Albert Yount, John Welch, Virginia Roseman and Jay Fenwick.  

“John Calvin has worked tirelessly as my campaign treasurer,  and I can assure that is no easy job,” Tarleton said. “All of our filings to Raleigh have always been on time, and I really appreciate your help and your support.

“Nothing I’ve accomplished in my private or public career could’ve been possible without my wife, Sylvia. You are my rock,” he said.

Friday night’s event, hosted by Grady and Reba Moretz, included wine a buffet created by Appalachian Ski Mountain banquet Chef Carla Fitzwater.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards presented by the governor of North Carolina. It is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers and many years of service to their organizations are some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected for the award.

Tarleton’s contributions include representing Boone and Blowing Rock in the North Carolina General Assembly for four years, extensive work with Rotary of Blowing Rock, serving on the boards of Blowing Rock Hospital and Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, and serving in the North Carolina National Guard.

As a professional, Tarleton worked as a broadcaster and general manager for WBT in Charlotte for many years before retiring in Blowing Rock with his wife, Sylvia.

Other local recipients of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine include Ginny Stevens, Reba and Grady Moretz, Pinky Hayden and the late Jerry Burns.

The award has also been presented to a number of notable North Carolinians such as Andy Griffith, Michael Jordan, Billy Graham, William Friday and Maya Angelou, among others.