Pavao honored with prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine
Lee Pavao recently was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award at the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center in Chapel Hill, a facility which Pavao helped to become a reality after years of dedicating time and resources to seeing a new senior center established in Orange County.
Moses Carey, Secretary of Administration for Governor Beverly Perdue’s cabinet and former Orange County Commissioner who worked with Pavao for decades, said, “From dedication to improving the lives of our children and senior citizens, his leadership in advancing smart, sustainable economic development, to being a champion for our parks and recreational assets, Lee Pavao has been a strong representative for Orange County and North Carolina.”
Pavao said that among all of the accolades he has received during three decades of service in North Carolina, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine may be “the greatest.”
“The Long Leaf honor means more to me than anything, because it is about the values of the state of North Carolina,” he said. “It represents who we as Orange County residents are, which largely centers on public service and giving back to the community.”
Pavao is a native of Massachusetts who moved to Chapel Hill after several years of living and working in South America. His willingness to roll up his sleeves and help better the community he had quickly come to love earned him a seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1993, where he served as a council member for eight years. He was Mayor Pro Tempore from 1999-2001.
In 1990, Lee joined forces with two other Chapel Hill leaders, the Rev. Robert Seymour and Chapel Hill Councilman Alan Rimer, and together they created a plan of action to bring a new senior center to Chapel Hill. They raised the funds – $500,000, all of it donated by the community – and the Chapel Hill Senior Center was born. The Senior Center, now called the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center, serves seniors throughout Orange County.
Pavao is a current member of Orange County’s Visitor Bureau board and has been a supporter of tourism in North Carolina. “It as a wise investment; a smart way to diversify our tax industry,” said Pavao.
Created in the mid-1960s, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award is given to residents in recognition of a proven record of service or some other special achievement. The recipient receives a certificate and the privilege of proposing, at any time, the North Carolina Toast:
“Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to ‘down home,’ the Old North State!”