Of all the accolades on display in Ron Martin’s home office, the one he’s most proud of is his recent Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. Not because it’s North Carolina’s highest civilian recognition, but because it’s brought him the most personal fulfillment.
“I have such love and respect for the people I work with and the people we try to help, so it’s been the most fun and the most satisfying award,” he said.
A Morganton resident since 1984 and a former sales and marketing VP for Shadowline Inc., Ron began his foray into community service because he wanted to use his business and leadership skills to become a “trustworthy and knowledgeable” asset for nonprofits.
He currently serves on – or has served on – numerous boards and has helped raise nearly $4 million for organizations and education institutions, including Western Piedmont Community College, First Baptist Church, Burke County United Way, Blue Ridge HealthCare Foundation, Exploring Joara Foundation and Mars Hill University.
“When I retired, I thought I had certain traits and qualities that would be beneficial for nonprofit organizations,” he said. “My involvement with public service was like running a race. I did the first mile and then I did another mile. The more I served, the more I got involved and the more I enjoyed it.”
The self-proclaimed extrovert said he loves meeting different people and his past experiences have helped him learn how to deal with various types of personalities and be a good listener. A work still in progress, he said, is overcoming his one weakness: patience. “It’s tough because I want things done now!” he said.
An ambassador for higher education, Ron was the first in his family to graduate college. “None of the things I’ve accomplished in my life would have happened had I not had a degree,” he said, adding that he’s particularly passionate about supporting young people who have struggled to find financial resources to pursue a college degree. “It’s been great keeping up with the students we’ve helped with scholarships over the years.”
In addition to having a visible presence throughout the Morganton community, the former Rotary Club Man of the Year also has made an impact at Grace Ridge. In the two years since he and his wife, Anne, signed on for a Good Moods way of life, he’s been involved with the education and strategic planning committees.
Ron’s Grace Ridge friends were among the crowd of nearly 100 who turned out to fete him in late August for his Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. Retired North Carolina Superior Court Judge Claude Sitton and Dr. Michael Helmick, president of Western Piedmont Community College, presented him with a certificate signed by Governor Pat McCrory.
Even with a prestigious governor’s award prominently hanging on his wall at home, Ron said he has no plans to slow down giving back to the community that has given him so much. “I’ve had a good life and it’s been good to give back, but I’m not through yet.”