Three outgoing county commissioners received the highest award for state service Nov. 15.
State Rep. Jamie Boles awarded commissioners Catherine Graham, Otis Ritter, and Jerry Daeke with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine plaques at the Moore County Board of Commissioners regular meeting. All three did not seek reelection.
Conferred by the governor of North Carolina, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine honors individuals for outstanding service to the state and their communities that goes beyond expectations and has made substantial impact. The award was created in 1963.
Boles recognized Graham, of District I, as the first and only woman to ever lead the Moore County Board of Commissioners. She has served as both chair and vice chair.
Graham served Moore County over three decades in various roles. She was the clerk of court for 15 years, served as the president of the North Carolina Clerk of Superior Courts, was a member of Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees and was on the Moore County School Facility Task Force.
She served Carthage in 2011 on the board of commissioners for three years and is ending her second term on the Moore County Board of Commissioners.
Boles recognized District III Moore County Commissioner Otis Ritter as a lifetime citizen who has served others with tireless dedication.
Ritter served in the United States Navy for three years and worked in the carpet industry at JP Stevens for 27 years.
He was the state’s emergency medical services grant administrator for 10 years. He was the first charter member of Robbins’ first rescue squad, which began in 1961. He served as a volunteer for Robbins and Highfalls emergency services, served on the Moore County Advisory Life Support Committee, and as the chair on the Emergency Services Advisory Committee for 20 years. In 1989, he began serving on the county’s Water and Sewer Task Force.
Ritter has served several times as the vice chair on the Moore County Board of Commissioners in his 10 years of service.
Boles recognized Jerry Daeke, of District V, as a notably prompt, humble, and unselfish member of the community, regularly consulted for his property expertise.
He was a member of the United States Navy, a building inspector for Banner Elk and in 1974 returned to Southern Pines as the first independent fee appraiser in the county. In 1995, he began teaching real estate appraisal in area colleges.
He served two terms on the Town of Southern Pines Council. He has been active in the Southern Pines Rotary Club and its charities. He is the chair of the Board of Equalization and Review. He served two terms as a county commissioner.
During the public hearing, native Terry Bryant said it was an honor and probably the only time three commissioners had received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Among notables who’ve received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine are Maya Angelou, Dale Earnhardt, Andy Griffith, Junior Johnson, Michael Jordan, Gaylord Perry, Dean Smith and Richard Petty.
Also during the meeting, Chair Frank Quis awarded a plaque to Judy Martin for her years of service from 2001 to 2022 as the Register of Deeds. She did not seek reelection.
Quis further recognized the support and shared wisdom of spouses and family for those who have served the citizens of Moore County.
“You can leave knowing Moore County is a better place to live,” Quis said.
Photo: Retiring members of the Moore County Board of Commissioners Catherine Graham (left), Otis Ritter, and Jerry Daeke. Photos courtesy of Moore County.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].