AUTRYVILLE — Patricia Williams was all smiles when she proudly held up several awards from community members and a national leader.
“I feel like the president,” Williams said about the abundance of recognition.
Williams, the former mayor of Autryville, was honored Tuesday evening at the town hall for serving from 1997 until 2015. Sampson County Manager Ed Causey and Susan Holder, assistant manager, presented a resolution of appreciation on behalf of the Sampson Board of Commissioners. Terry Spell spoke on behalf of several residents who wanted to show their gratitude. He mentioned how everyone is standing on the shoulders of leaders such as Williams.
Current Mayor Larry Autry presented a resolution in appreciation of Williams. It stated that Williams was the driving force behind the construction of the present town hall. Also she played a vital role in obtaining funds for a walking trail and the farmers market.
“The Mayor and the Board of Commissioners for the Town of Autryville, on behalf of the residents of the Town of Autryville express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Patricia Williams for a life of public service and dedication to the Town of Autryville,” Autry said, reading the proclamation.
She also volunteered countless hours throughout the town. On behalf of President Barack Obama, Commissioner Richard Spell presented Williams with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In a letter from The White House, Williams was thanked for helping to address the most pressing needs in the community and country.
“While government can open more opportunities for us to serve our communities, it is up to each of us to seize those opportunities,” Obama said. “Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great nation.”
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton also honored Williams on behalf of Gov. Pat McCrory with membership in The Order of the Long Leaf Pine and rank of ambassador. It’s a prestigious award presented by the North Carolina governor. It was created in 1964 and the honor is presented to individuals with a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Thornton nominated Williams for the organization for taking leadership of a small town with limited resources and improving the quality of life.
“Ms. Williams is symbolic of the spirit of a good North Carolinian, who is thrifty, determined and self-sacrificing for the betterment of her fellow citizens,” Thornton said about her nomination. “She gave full-time service to her beloved community, which far exceeded any stipend that she ever received. Patricia Williams is the lady you want in your corner, because she is willing to put politics to the side and get in the ditch to work alongside anyone else, as long as it serves her fellow citizens.”
But the awards did not stop there. She was honored with a plaque from Richard Spell.
“Pat, you’ve been recognized tonight by the president, the governor, county officials and town officials,” Spell said. “But the most important recognition is the one I’m about to give you and that comes from the citizens of Autryville.”
He mentioned how America and places like Autryville are great places to live because of people like her.
“You along with the mayors you see back there on the wall have made a big part in getting us to where we are, where we’re going,” Spell said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.