LUMBERTON — A recent reception for D. Justin Oliver at Robeson Community College recently turned out to be about much more than his retirement.
Oliver, who left on April 30 as the vice president of Adult and Continuing Education at Robeson Community College, was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — the state’s highest award for a civilian — at the event.
“It was a great honor,” Oliver said. “Both gratifying and humbling, as I told the people that were there. I was a public servant for 30 years and I just went and did my job. I greatly appreciated that and it’s been a pleasure to serve the citizens and businesses and organizations for all these years, and hopefully in some way make it a little better place.”
The award, which was a surprise, was given to him by Sen. Michael Walters.
Oliver has been involved with the Robeson County Committee of 100 for 17 years and served on the boards for Communities and Schools and Robeson County Group Home. He has also been the mayor of Marietta, where he was born, for about 20 years and is a member of the Lumberton Rotary Club.
“I think the Order of the Long Leaf Pine was well deserved,” said Sandra Oliver, his wife. “He has been involved in activities and organizations and volunteer efforts throughout the county for the last 30 years … He has a real allegiance to Robeson Community College and to the county and even though he is retired, I’m sure he’ll still be very involved because this is home and he wants to be a part of making things work out for our county.”
Oliver’s work as mayor will keep him busy.
“I’m looking forward to cutting back a little bit but I want to stay involved,” he said. “It’s been a privilege to serve the citizens and businesses in this county and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
While working at RCC, Oliver’s knowledge of the state administrative code and the history of the college made him a key employee, said Charles Chrestman, the president of RCC.
“Mr. Oliver was a valued member of my executive staff,” Chrestman said. “He did his job well and in a timely manner, and I enjoyed the eight-and-one-half years we worked together.”
Oliver was in a leading role for designing the space and service areas of the new Workforce Development Center building, and once it was built he managed the occupancy of the building and supervised the start-up of services out of the complex.
“Justin’s never been a person who wanted personal attention,” his wife said. “Everything he’s done has been for the good of the county. … He told the crowd that if he had had his wishes about his retirement, he would’ve just gotten into his truck and driven in to the sunset.”