Three Charlotteans – longtime civic leaders and philanthropists Sally and Russell Robinson and community activist Thereasea Elder –were honored for their contributions to the city at a special ceremony Monday at the Foundation for the Carolinas.
The Robinsons received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is one of North Carolina’s highest civilian honors and is approved by the governor.
The couple has supported numerous causes throughout the state for decades, leading dozens of nonprofit boards across sectors such as education, the arts and healthcare.
Sally Robinson also helped launch the Center for Civic Leadership at the Foundation For The Carolinas, which is now named in honor of the Robinsons.
Elder, the Levine Museum of the New South and the Foundation For The Carolinas nominated the Robinsons for the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Later, in a surprise announcement, Elder was presented with the inaugural Nish Jamgotch Humanitarian Award.
“Her jaw was to the floor practically,” said Tara Keener, spokeswoman for the Foundation for the Carolinas. “It was a lovely surprise for almost everyone there.”
The Nish Jamgotch Humanitarian Award is presented annually to an individual or group that demonstrates exceptional service to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.
It is named for a retired UNC Charlotte professor who established the award.
Elder, a retired nurse and close friend of Sally Robinson, was honored for her groundbreaking efforts to integrate health care in Charlotte during the height of the civil rights movement as well as her continued work to promote health care and racial equality.
Elder is also a past recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The Thereasea Clark Elder Neighborhood Park in north Charlotte is named in her honor.
The timing worked perfectly to give Elder the award because organizers knew that she would be there to congratulate the Robinsons for their award, said Brian Collier, senior vice president of community programs and civic leadership at the Foundation For the Carolinas.
“Mrs. Elder is a beloved community leader who has made tremendous impact on the lives of many,” Collier said. “It seemed only fitting to recognize her as well during this celebration of philanthropy and civic service.”
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