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16 State Employees Honored with Caswell Awards for 45 Years of Public Service

Sixteen state employees with 45 years of public service have been honored with the Richard Caswell Award. The recipients, who work at five state agencies, join the distinguished ranks of long-serving employees who have earned the award since it was established in 1998 in tribute to North Carolina’s first governor.

Collectively, the 16 state employees have devoted more than 720 years to public service.

“Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful for the deep institutional knowledge and steadfast experience of our Caswell Award honorees,” said Barbara Gibson, Director of the Office of State Human Resources. “They can truly say they’ve ‘seen it all’ in a career than spans a stunning scope of work across five decades. We are grateful for their enduring commitment to public service as state agencies remain focused on providing needed public services in challenging times.” 

An in-person ceremony to celebrate these extraordinary employees had been scheduled for April but was postponed due to pandemic guidance and restrictions. Honorees will receive their framed certificate, letters of commendation and a gift card to choose a keepsake from the N.C. Museum of History Shop in coming days.

Recipients of the 2020 Richard Caswell Award include:

  • Department of Administration: Jerry S. Rogers of Four Oaks
  • Judicial Branch: Robbin R. Creech of Stanfield, Mabel H. Lowman of Connelly Springs, Richard McCollister of Rockwell, Linda L. Thorne of Spring Hope, Nell F. Wiggins of Gates
  • Department of Justice: Phoebe H. West of Salemburg
  • Department of Health and Human Services: Joyce W. Gardner of Princeton, Judith Isom of Goldsboro, Elaine Kistler of Shelby, Melvin Lynch of LaGrange, Lynn Pressley of Brevard
  • Department of Transportation: Deborah Jernigan of Raleigh, Donald King of Raleigh, James Michael Mills of Burlington, Jerry A. Parker of Summerfield.

Richard Caswell was a Maryland native who dedicated most of his adult life to North Carolina. He was the first Orange County clerk of court before taking up arms during the Revolutionary War. He later became a member of the colonial assembly, where he was a champion for free public education.

With our young nation’s independence from Britain, Caswell became North Carolina’s first governor, serving from 1776-1780. He next served as state controller, returning to the job of chief executive from 1784-1787. Caswell also was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, then served again as a state senator. In 1789, at age 60, he suffered a fatal stroke while presiding over a senate session in Fayetteville.

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