By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer
Friday, January 25, 2013 —
Oakboro Police Chief Joe E. Lowder received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at Tuesday’s town meeting.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor a civilian in North Carolina can receive and it is bestowed by the governor’s office upon exceptional citizens.
“I do confer the order of the Long Leaf Pine with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinaire,” said Mayor Danny Long as he presented the award, signed by former Gov. Beverly Perdue.
“I don’t know what to say,” Lowder said.
“I want to congratulate Chief Lowder,” said Georgia Harvey, board member. Board member Chris Huneycutt echoed her sentiments.
“It’s an extreme honor to receive such an award; it was something I wasn’t expecting,” Lowder said.
“It’s an honor to be included in the roll call of those that have come bcfore me who have received this award.”
He began in law enforcement in December 1977 in the town of Stanfield, working part time as a police officer there.
In July 1978 Lowder came to work at Oakboro full time. He left in 1988 and became the county’s first DARE officer with the sheriff’s office.
Lowder worked in the sheriff’s office with his brother, who was sheriff at the time.
When his brother passed away in 1992, Lowder was appointed to serve the remaining 27 months as sheriff. He was elected to the office in 1994.
Lowder left the sheriff’s office in 1998 and worked with Montgomery County’s Sheriff’s Office as a deputy part time.
In 1999 Lowder was elected to the Oakboro Town Board as mayor pro-tem and police commissioner. Lowder was previously elected in 1989 as mayor pro-tem and police commissioner, but he had to resign this position in order to take over the sheriff’s duties when his brother passed.
In 2003 Lowder was elected mayor of Oakboro and in 2007 he took over as chief of police.
In all this is Lowder’s 34th year of law enforcement.
“It’s a family thing. My father was a police officer in Albemarle and worked his way up to polce chief in Albemarle,” Lowder said.
“My brother worked his way up to sheriff before he passed in ‘92.
“Together I think we have 82 years total in law enforcement.
“I’ve always given my time to the community, always volunteered for youth athletics; I’ve coached football and basketball.”
Lowder looked back on his years of service, reflecting on his career.
“Especially being a DARE office was one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. Being able to work with children and help mold them into what they are today, and I take that as a tremendous honor to have been able to do that.
“[Tuesday] night I thought the mayor had a certificate of appreciaton... I had no idea it was the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
“I was shocked and at a loss for words.”