LAUREL HILL — Long-time educator and recent recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, James H. Alford, has passed away.
Alford, 70, passed away on Wednesday at his home in Laurel Hill. McPhatter Funeral Home is in charge of the services, which will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday with burial following at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Laurinburg. A visitation will be held on Tuesday at McPhatter Funeral Home in Laurel Hill 6 to 7 p.m.
It was in July of this year that Alford received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, which was presented to him by N.C. Rep. Garland Pierce. Not only did Pierce give praises to Alford during the ceremony, but so did countless other people going on for around three hours.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award is among the most prestigious awards given by the governor of North Carolina. It is awarded to persons for exemplary service to the state of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.
Since its creation in 1963, nearly 20,000 North Carolinians have received the award. Pierce, who knew Alford personally, says that himself and the community will miss him.
“He was a great humanitarian and he worked hard for the community,” Pierce said. “His presence will be missed, he was always smiling and jubilous.”
Alford received three letters of recommendation for the award — coming from Pierce, Sen. Milton F. “Toby” Fitch Jr. and Sen. Paul A. Lowe Jr.
Pierce said it was in education that Alford made his mark on the community. He had spent 40-years as an educator — 30 of those in Scotland County and the other 10 in Marlboro County, S.C. — shaping young minds. At the Board of Education’s Committee of the Whole meeting Sunday the board gave a moment of silence for Alford to remember him.
All three men touched on everything Alford did as a teacher in their letters, talking on how as Prince Hall District Deputy Grand Master he provided numerous scholarships in the community to help achieve academic endeavors and how he worked tirelessly to serve as a mentor, advocate and friend to ensure students success.
“During his tenure as an EC Teacher at Scotland High School, Mr. Alford assisted students and families with mental, physical and behavioral needs. As a result of Mr. Alford’s dedication to his work and community the students were able to achieve phenomenal academic success,” Fitch wrote in his letter. “He has an indefatigable spirit, a faithful commitment to excellence and a positive outlook on life.”
Other than education Alford was involved in several other aspects of the community from serving diligently at his church, Franklin Chapel AMEZ in Laurinburg, to serving 29 years with Scotland County Parks & Recreation, and keeping memberships with the Eastern Star, Mount Scottish Lodge, Carpentry Consistory and Ouda Temple.
Along with his education and recreation positions, some of Alford’s highlights included receiving the District Deputy Grand Master of the Year for the Western Region six times in the Masonic Lodge; serving as secretary of the of the 29th Masonic District for 14 years; serving for 12 years as Worthy Patron of the Eastern Star’s Mount Scottish Chapter; served as junior deacon, secretary, junior warden, senior warden and worshipful master with Mount Scottish Ledge No. 188; and served as commander-in-chief of the Carpentry Consistory.
Alford’s brother John T. Alford currently serves on the Scotland County Board of Commissioners.
“Overall, he was a great guy and a wonderful humanitarian we need more folks like him,” Pierce said. “Just imagine what could be done in this community if we had more people like him.”
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]