Henry Faircloth believes in giving back, and for much of his life he’s done just that, whether serving on local school advisory committees, chairing a state board, working on community fundraisings or myriad other things to make life in Sampson better for others.
For that service, Faircloth was awarded Monday afternoon the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest honors the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen.
He joins the ranks of such past recipients as Maya Angelou, the Rev. Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Bob Timberlake and Rick Hendrick, along with state employees, prominent government business executives and noted politicians, athletes, musicians, actors and advocates.
The Sampson County native and Salemburg resident said he was surprised when he was told he was being inducted.
“I guess shock might be a good word,” the unassuming Faircloth acknowledged during an interview last week, just a few days before he headed to Raleigh to receive his award. “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting anything like this. I’m humbled, I can tell you that, and I’m very appreciative.”
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.
Faircloth, those who know him said, fits the bill when it comes to the service he has so willingly given.
He capped off a lifetime of service with a 20-year tenure on the N.C. Appraisal Board, serving as its chairman six different times. Having departed the board in 2011, he said he never expected to receive such a prestigious state honor now.
“I’ve been off that board for a year now. Many of the people who have known me and worked with me aren’t there anymore, so this came at an unexpected time. And, besides, I don’t feel worthy of such an honor. I’m proud to have received it, though, very, very proud.”
Ever humble, Faircloth shies away from talking about himself, opting instead to talk about the boards, he said, he’s had the privilege to be a part, like the Sampson County Schools advisory committees, both for the Lakewood district and for all of Sampson County Schools; or, the Sampson County Library Board, where he was a sitting member for four years. Then there was an eight-year stint on the Industrial Development Commission for Sampson County, and then the appointment to the Sampson Community College Board of Trustees, two of them, in fact, with Faircloth serving a total 17 years. Although no longer a trustee, he continues to serve on the SCC Foundation board.
“I’ve really enjoyed being a part of all those organizations. Each one had a purpose and each one made a difference in our community. The people on those boards were so very committed and so willing to give of themselves to help make Sampson County and its citizens better. It was a real honor for me to have been asked to be a part of each of those,” Faircloth stressed.
He shares that easily recognizable grin as he recalls his time on the school advisory committees at a time when his children were still part of Sampson County Schools. “I really enjoyed that a great deal, I really did. We had some good times and we got a lot of things accomplished for the children. That was important.”
Service on the IDC, he stressed, came during challenging times because his tenure was during the period when the board was attempting to name all the county’s roads. “People were very serious about those names. Everyone had a preference, but overall I’d have to say, things were rectified in a satisfactory way for most people.”
And, he called his time as an SCC trustees as meaningful, particularly as it related to working with former president Clif Paderick who, he said, moved the college forward in many areas. “Those were rewarding times. Clif and the trustees had great vision for the college and we all worked diligently to see it grow and offer more and more things for students.”
He serves on the SCC Foundation, he said, because he continues to hold a special place in his heart of the college and its students and staff.
But it was his work on the Appraisal Board that, perhaps, gave Faircloth the most satisfaction.
Appointed in 1991 by Sen. Henson P. Barnes, Faircloth joined the then seven-member board which licenses and regulates real estate appraisers. Its mission, Faircloth said, was and is to protect consumers of real estate services provided by its licensees by assuring that these licensees are sufficiently trained and tested to assure competency and independent judgement. In addition, the board, he said, protects the public interest by enforcing state law and Appraisal Board rules to assure that its licensees act in accordance with professional standards and ethics.
As a licensed general contractor, Faircloth said he tried to bring insight to the board and guidance on a variety of issues.
He served as chairman of the Appraisal Board six different times and vice chairman seven, with 13 of his 20 years being an officer of the board.
During his tenure he said the board was instrumental in getting mandatory licensing enacted for appraisals, something in which he takes great pride. Another major accomplish, he said, was when they petitioned the state Legislature to allow the board to purchase property. They received that authorization which paved the way for the new building on Six Forks Road in Raleigh that is home to the N.C. Appraisal Board and its staff.
“It’s completely paid off and, what’s more, we didn’t use a dime of taxpayer money to do any of it. Every bit of it was funded through the renewal fees,” Faircloth said, a smile spreading across his face.
He takes great pride in the building that he worked closely to see built. Although he couldn’t be a part of the actual construction, Faircloth said he consulted with the contractors regularly. “It’s a beautiful building and one I’m very, very proud to have been a part of from the beginning.”
The contractor in him never dissipates, but then, again, having been in the business since the age of 24, it’s who Faircloth is.
After a four-year stint in the Air Force, Faircloth returned to his native Sampson and opened his construction company. In 1975, he got his general contractor’s license and begin constructing buildings. Along the way, Faircloth Construction became Generations Construction, a tribute to the family business that included Faircloth, his father and now his son Heath. Their specialty — commercial construction.
“We have built all over the place, a lot of medical offices and a few custom homes. I guess the biggest adventure might have been going to New York City to renovate a store on Park Avenue in the mid 1980s.” He smiles as he recalls those times. “Now that was probably the biggest eye-opener I’ve ever had.”
Faircloth is quick to point out how blessed he feels to have a good business, a wonderful family and a community he loves, and he points to all three as reasons he believes in giving back.
“It’s not about taking; it’s about giving,” Faircloth acknowledged. “Everybody has something to offer to society in one way or another. As we grow up, we take from our parents, from our siblings, from our teachers, from those we come in contact with, and at some point in time, you have to begin giving back.
“I have always felt like it was my time to give back and I’ve tried to do that. I enjoy and appreciate that I’ve been able to do that, I really do,” Faircloth said.