FAIR BLUFF — Willard Small, the president of Lumberton Ford Lincoln, was recently awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine at a ceremony at the Fair Bluff Baptist Church’s Christian Life Center.
Mitchell Tyler, a District Court judge, presented the award, which is North Carolina’s highest honor for a civilian. The award is issued by Gov. Bev Perdue and given to individuals with a lifetime of service to the state.
Small, who has a 50-year record of success as an automobile dealer, likes to say he was “raised between two hills of tobacco,” and credits those roots for a successful career in both the automobile industry, as well as the tobacco business.
He has been the president of Imperial Tobacco Ltd., a British-based firm where he presided over leaf purchases in North America and South America as well as in Canada. He currently serves on the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Commission.
Still active in the tobacco business, he presently serves on the board of G.F. Baughan Tobacco Company in Lexington, Ky.
Small has served as a member of the Fair Bluff Town Council for 48 years, making him the longest town council member of record in North Carolina. Small is currently serving one of his four terms on the board of trustees at Campbell University in Buies Creek.
He also served on the board of trustees at Southeastern Community College for 35 years, and is presently a member of the Investment Committee of the SCC Foundations.
He has also been on the following boards: Cape Fear Farm Credit, First Union Bank, Columbus County Schools, Fair Bluff Rotary, Fair Bluff Community Library and Columbus County Economic Development Commission.