The character of the Sims Award is best described as: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

Each year, since 1990, the Community Foundation has awarded the Allen H. Sims Award in honor of a person or persons who exemplify the character of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Sims; the selfless act of seeing a need and making a difference. Mr. Sims headed a long list of business-related and local community organizations, but perhaps was best known as a community fund raiser and for his personal generosity – much of which was anonymously given as college financial aid for many deserving young people. Bequests from his estate and that of his wife, Mrs. Anne Rankin Sims, created what is still the largest single fund in the Community Foundation – an unrestricted endowment bearing their names.

Each year, the Foundation gathers for an event to both honor the annual Sims Award Recipient as well as review the Foundation's activities for the year. Scroll below to learn more about the award winners over the years and be sure to view our videos to learn more.

2023 Annual Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Anderson Davis "Andy" Warlick

Gaston Community Foundation’s 33rd Annual Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Anderson Davis "Andy" Warlick

Do you remember the 21st night of September? The Gaston Community Foundation honored philanthropist, Anderson Davis “Andy” Warlick with the Allen H. Sims Award. The evening served as the annual meeting of donors for the Gaston Community Foundation, as well as the 33rd presentation of the Sims Award.

Highlights from the event include fellowship among community partners and philanthropists; exciting statistics delivered by Foundation Chair, David Rogers; a charismatic depiction of Mr. Warlick’s community impact, presented by Richard Rankin and Gene Matthews; and a bright theme tied into the Foundation’s art sculpture, The Common Thread.

The Gaston Community Foundation statistics presented by David Rogers included:

  • $124 million in assets.
  • $6.8 million grants awarded in 2022.
  • 2022 gifts received totaled $15.4 million. 2022 was the second largest year for gifts since inception in 1978.
  • 110 Scholarships awarded in 2022.
  • 2022 Run raised $1.2 million for local nonprofits, with a match of 35%.

Following Mr. Roger’s leadership of the annual meeting, he recognized the 2023 Allen H. Sims Award recipient, Mr. Anderson Davis “Andy” Warlick and his family: wife, Pamela Kimbrell Warlick; son, Davis Warlick and wife, Annie; daughter, Collins Byers and husband, Fred.

The Allen H. Sims Award is presented each year to an individual who depicts the character of the award: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

Dr. Richard Rankin began the presentation of the award, detailing Mr. Warlick’s start in the community, from attending Gaston Day School to playing football on the Optimist Boys and Girls Club football team to attending the Citadel. Mr. Gene Matthews continued the conversation detailing Mr. Warlick’s return to his roots in Gastonia and the impact he has made since. While many items are of note, Mr. Matthews focused on Mr. Warlick’s community involvement in the following areas:

• He chaired the Gaston County YMCA Board.

• He co-chaired Major Giving for the United Way’s annual campaign.

• He co-chaired Gaston Day School’s capital campaign.

• He co-chaired The Citadel’s capital campaign and raised $250 million dollars on a goal of $175 million dollars for his school.

• And he served two terms on the Gaston Community Foundation Board and chaired the Investment Committee, which oversees more than $120 million dollars in investments.

In addition to serving as a leader in the above capacities, Mr. Warlick took the charge on several major projects (quotes from Mr. Matthew’s presentation):

  • “Andy’s biggest springboard for great community change was the creation of the Warlick Family YMCA. To date, no civic endeavor has been bigger or transformed our community more than the $22M Warlick Family YMCA project.
  • Andy wanted to keep that momentum going by rebuilding Gaston County’s reputation as an asset in the Charlotte region. He and Elaine Lyerly co-chaired the Greater Gaston Development Corporation’s efforts to launch a new image campaign called Gaston Outside or ‘GO.’ Upon completion of the project, Gaston County’s perception in the Charlotte area shifted from negative to positive, and this helped boost economic growth and civic pride…two essential ingredients Andy knew we needed then, and in the years to come.
  • Now we have the FUSE District and The W. Duke Kimbrell Center for Philanthropy, which is the new home of the Gaston Community Foundation. The Center for Philanthropy is a stunning structure, and one that has Andy’s footprints all over it. His counsel to the committee was, ‘Let’s envision a building that will make a major statement about our community,’ and his boldness gave us the courage to dream big. That project is now the centerpiece of a larger plan that Andy has coined ‘The New Hope Business District for Philanthropy, Business, and Healthcare,’ and more great things will come.
  • Andy’s business and textile manufacturing experience has inspired the next project that will show the world what the Gaston College Textile Technology Center can do…. with his son, Davis, leading the charge, Andy, John Hauser, and the College’s leadership team are bringing the Fiber Innovation Center to the Belmont campus. It will be the only place in the world where scientists, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders can take a fiber idea and convert it into a textile product under one roof. By drawing global attention, this facility will be yet another source of civic pride for education in the region as we grow and strengthen the profile of Gaston College.
  • Next is an example of how Andy, his Parkdale team, and their industrywide colleagues and competitors came together to help our nation at the beginning of a very uncertain time…when we were hit with the global pandemic called COVID. In the Spring of 2020, we were scrambling to understand the situation, and businesses everywhere were grinding to a halt. That’s when Andy Warlick received an urgent call from the White House asking for help with manufacturing 600 million face masks, as well as medical-grade swabs. In Andy’s own words, he said, ‘When we got the call….we answered.’ In record time, the U.S. Textile Team—led by Andy—fulfilled the request and delivered what the nation so desperately needed.”

“When Andy decides to do something—be it business, the community, or a personal passion—he is all in,” explained Mr. Matthews.

Mr. Warlick’s vast involvement has led him to be the recipient of numerous distinguished awards. To reference a few of those awards:

• The W.D. Kimbrell Lifetime Achievement Award

• North Carolina State College of Textiles’s Leader of the Year Award

• The Citadel’s School of Business Hall of Fame

• Spirit of the Carolinas Award from the Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce

• Recipient of the Long Leaf Pine Award

• The J.D. Hicks Lifetime Achievement Award—which is Gaston County YMCA’s highest award.

The Gaston Community Foundation is honored to induct Anderson Davis “Andy” Warlick into the Sims Society.

Gaston Community Foundation's 32nd Annual Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Eugene R. Matthews II

October 6, 2022- the culmination and celebration of commitment to community. Friends, donors, nonprofit organizations, religious leaders, and political leaders gathered at 250 South New Hope Road based on one common thread- the Gaston Community Foundation.

The evening served as the Foundation’s annual report to donors, the 32nd Annual Allen H. Sims Award, and the blessing and dedication of the Community Foundation’s new home. Nancy Paschall, Foundation Board Chair presented with detail of the Foundation’s investment in community. Upon concluding the business portion of the meeting, Nancy introduced Andy Warlick and Richard Rankin to recognize the 2022 Sims Recipient, Eugene R. Matthews II.

Gene Matthew’s commitment to philanthropy and, in particular, to the Gaston Community Foundation has lasted a lifetime. Beginning with board service in the mid-1990s, Matthews served a total of six terms (eighteen years). In a timespan that encompasses more than one third of his adult life, he has held various Gaston Community Foundation leadership roles, including Grants Committee Chair, Investment Committee Chair and Board Chair (2001). While his volunteerism to the Foundation is vast, Matthews has contributed to many organizations locally and across the state. He is a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia.

Mr. Matthews started in his family’s department store business as a young man. Working his way up through the ranks, he served in a number of executive positions in Matthews-Belk, Company Store Group in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. As a Belk executive, he participated on the boards of various store corporations and completed his career with the company when it was sold in 2015. Since then, he has been involved in the family’s real estate business.

Gene Matthews gives because he cares. His philanthropy is an expression of faith, compassion and commitment to his community. He gives out of gratitude and a desire to improve other people's lives. He believes deeply in our responsibility to give back.

The W. Duke Center for Philanthropy is the culmination of Matthew’s lifelong commitment to the Gaston Community Foundation, Gastonia and Gaston County. While celebrating Matthews as the Sims recipient, the evening also served as the grand opening of the Foundation’s building, a project spearheaded by Matthews. Matthews, along with others from the leadership team for the Foundation’s building (Tim Efird, John McGill, Angela Micalizzi, Nancy Paschall, Elizabeth Patton, Richard Rankin, Marsh Spencer, Ernest Sumner, and Andy Warlick) were recognized for their efforts in planning and construction of the building. Before guests enjoyed tours of the building, local faith leaders representing funds held at the Community Foundation, participated in a blessing and dedication of the building.

On that evening, over 300 community members joined together to celebrate philanthropy and a new beginning for your Community Foundation.

Andy and Pam Warlick at the 2021 Sims Award Celebration.
Davis Warlick presents the Sims Award to his Mother, Pam at the 2021 Sims Award Celebration.

Thursday, September 9th, donors from across the County joined together for the 31th Annual Allen H. Sims Dinner hosted by the Board of Directors of the Gaston Community Foundation.

The dinner was held at Gaston Country Club where over 170 donors and guests gathered to hear a report on the Foundation and to honor the recipient of this year’s Allen Sims Award. Being a pandemic year, all attendees wore facemasks and the dinner was a take home meal versus in person.

Tim Efird, Past Board Chair, reported on the Foundation’s newest project: constructing a 20,000 sqft office building on the corner of New Hope Road and Old Country Club Drive in Gastonia. He also shared many numbers of impact for our community; stating the Foundation now exceeds $117 million in assets.

During Mr. Efird’s report, two videos served as testimonials to the partnership the Foundation provides to donors.

The first video shared an agency fund, Gaston Day School. Dr. Richard Rankin details the top three reasons the school partners with the Community Foundation to manage their funds.

The second video featured a donor advised fund, Austin's Opioid Education Fund, established to educate the public on facts of opioid addiction. Nazrul and Tammy Chowdhury share the story of losing their son, Ausint to opioids and how they are using their Foundation fund to fight the stigma of addiction.

Following the report on the Foundation, Mr. Davis Warlick presented the Allen H. Sims Award to Mrs. Pamela Kimbrell Warlick.

Pam’s passion for philanthropy comes naturally. She is the first descendant of a former Sims recipient to receive the Sims Award. Her Father, the late Duke Kimbrell received the Sims Award in 2000. Since that time, Pam has followed in the footsteps on her parents and forged new paths in the betterment of our community.

Pam began her education at Gaston Day School. She then attended Salem College, where she earned her degree in Art History. Between her parents influence in giving and her education in the arts, Pam’s involvement in the community is most notable through the Pamela Kimbrell Warlick Visual and Performing Arts Center at Gaston Day; her time spent on the Board of the Arts Council; serving as President of the Gaston County Museum of Art and History; participating on the Arts Committee for the Warlick Family YMCA; and volunteering on the Arts Task Force at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

Outside of the arts, Pam has been involved in the Junior League, she is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, she is a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and she has served on the Board of Directors and the Grants Committee for the Gaston Community Foundation.

Pam has carried on her family’s tradition of giving and amplified those efforts with her husband, Andy Warlick and children; Davis Warlick and wife, Annie; Collins Byers and husband, Fred. She is also the proud grandparent of Everett and Wynn Byers and Anderson, Smith, and Willard Warlick.

We are fortunate to have the Warlick/Kimbrell family in Gaston County and enjoy being the recipients of Pam’s generosity.

This year's Sims dinner has been postponed until we all may gather together safely. Although this year's Annual Sims Dinner has been postponed, we want to take this opportunity to congratulate this year's Sims Recipient, Pamela K. Warlick. We look forward to the time we can celebrate you and all the great work you've done in our community!

Gaston Community Foundation’s 30th Annual Allen H. Sims Award Recipients: Mr. Wayne F. Shovelin and Mrs. Julia M. Shovelin

Thursday, September 19th, donors from across the Country joined together for the 30th Annual Allen H. Sims Dinner hosted by the Board of Directors of the Gaston Community Foundation.

The dinner was held at Gaston Country Club where over 200 donors and guests gathered to hear a report on the Foundation and to honor the recipients of this year’s Allen Sims Award. Tim Efird, Board Chair, reported on the Foundation’s many numbers of impact for our community. During 2018, the Foundation collectively granted a record-breaking $9 million; 81% stayed in Gaston County and 98% served North Carolina.

During Mr. Efird’s report, two videos served as testimonials to the partnership the Foundation provides to donors.

The first video shared the story of the Mary Armstrong Coffey Scholarship. The scholarship was established in February of 2019 to award one scholarship per year to a graduating student of Forestview High School. The scholarship was created by Mandy and Wade Coffey, in memory of their daughter Mary Armstrong, who would have graduated this year from Forestview.

The second video featured new Legacy Society members of the Foundation, Amy and Marsh Spencer. Mr. Spencer states in the video, “We decided we needed a way to ensure some of our estate plans would solely benefit this community. Following further discussion with our estate planners and the Community Foundation, we decided to open a Legacy Fund for the sole benefit of Gaston County. It was a very simple process to include the Foundation in our will and we are glad to have our trust in the Foundation’s determination of the greatest needs for years to come.” Both videos may be found on the Foundation’s website,

Following the report on the Foundation, Mrs. Pamela K. Warlick presented the Allen H. Sims Award to Mr. Wayne F. Shovelin and Mrs. Julia M. Shovelin.

Many have had the opportunity to see firsthand the Shovelins’ enthusiasm and support of Gaston County. Through Julie’s role as the Board Attorney for Gaston County Schools and Wayne’s career as CEO of Gaston Memorial Hospital, now CaroMont.

Prior to their careers, Julie attended Wake Forest University for her undergraduate degree, as well as, her law degree in graduate school. Wayne attended the University of Minnesota for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Once entering their careers, Julie and Wayne saw a need in the community and found many solutions resulting in the betterment of our County. They each cared for the community and made many differences as strong leaders in industry and in philanthropy.

Outside of Julie’s significant position in our school system, she has served on a plethora of nonprofit boards and as president of six of those boards, including; Hospice, Girl Scouts, Salvation Army, the Literacy Council, Glenn Foundation and the Community Foundation. Julie’s honors are vast, but to highlight a few; she served as President of the Education Section of the NC Bar Association; she received the Gaston Chamber’s Athena Award, and she is a Paul Harris Fellow.

Wayne has also dedicated his time to much more than his career. To name some of his most meaningful work, he has served our Country in the US Air Force, he has served on the Board for the Gaston Chamber, the board of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, the board of the Community Foundation and on the board for the National White-Water Center. Among his many honors, Wayne has received The Gaston Gazette’s Man of the Year award, the Gaston Chamber’s Spirit of the Carolinas, the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Healthcare Association, he is a Paul Harris Fellow and he has received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Mrs. Warlick stated, “In 2009, Wayne retired as CEO from CaroMont. My family and especially my father, Duke Kimbrell thought very highly of Wayne and his nearly three decades spent growing CaroMont. My father approached Wayne and asked how he could best honor Wayne’s career. Wayne’s response was simple, but yet held so much meaning. He asked that a scholarship be created to help graduating high school seniors pursuing healthcare. The scholarship was named the Wayne F. Shovelin Scholarship and was established to award $20,000 annually for four years to any four-year college or university, thus providing an $80,000 scholarship to students. The award also includes three paid summer internships tailored to the student’s interest. Wayne considered the future of our community when he decided how to leave a legacy.”

Mr. Gene Matthews stated, “Wayne and Julia have not only given their treasure and time, but they have been the architects of so many important civic endeavors that have strengthened and grown the fabric of our community.”

To conclude the evening, two videos were presented for congratulatory remarks by Dr. Jeffrey Booker, Gaston County Schools Superintendent and by Mr. Chris Peek, CEO of CaroMont Health.

The Community Foundation may now add the Allen H. Sims Award to this distinguished list of honors for the Shovelins. Mr. and Mrs. Shovelin have exemplified the character of the Sims Award: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2018 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Dr. William A. Current, Sr.

Generations of Generosity was the theme of the night on Thursday, September 20th for the twenty-ninth Annual Allen H. Sims Dinner hosted by the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Gaston County

The dinner was held at Gaston Country Club where over 200 donors gathered to hear a report on the Foundation and to honor the recipient of this year’s Allen Sims Award. Rick Craig, Board Chair, reported to those gathered that the Foundation is celebrating 40 years of service in Gaston County. His report included many numbers of impact for our community, specifically highlighting $100 million granted from the Foundation since inception! During 2017, the Foundation collectively granted out $8.3 million; 83% stayed in Gaston County and 96% served North Carolina.

Following the Foundation report, a video served as the program by sharing the Foundation’s many generations of generosity. To view the video, please visit the Foundation’s video page: CFGC in Videos

Mr. Dan LaFar presented the Allen H. Sims Award to Dr. William ‘Bill’ Ange Current, Sr. as the 2018 recipient. Mr. LaFar has been associated with Dr. Current for many years and was able to give a firsthand account of the many contributions in time, talent and resources given to our community by Dr. Current.

Dr. Current’s impact may be seen, felt and tasted throughout our community. Did you know he was instrumental in adding fluoride to the water? Or that he served four terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives? Dr. Current, a man of many talents; especially those in the dental field, but also a man who enjoys his time spent on the golf course, cooking collards and eating oysters. The Community Foundation Board of Directors is proud to honor Dr. Current with the 2018 Sims Award.

Following presentation of the Sims Award, the Foundation presented its first Order of the Long Leaf Pine at the dinner. Dr. Richard Rankin, The Anderson Davis Warlick Head of School of Gaston Day School and Past Chair of the Foundation Board, presented the award alongside his friends in attendance who have also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The award, provided by Governor Roy Cooper; signifies Dr. Current’s many contributions to Gaston County, North Carolina and our Nation.

Dr. Current’s influence in our community began in 1933 and lives on today.

In the Beginning

Born in Gaston County, May 4, 1933, to parents Dr. Alfred Current, Sr. and Vera McDuffie Current; Dr. Current found his parents’ ethics to serve him well in his development. Dr. Current watched closely as his father helped lead the way to bring a dental school to North Carolina; the first one in the state, at UNC Chapel Hill. His parents also owned land in Gaston County; where they built their home and then gifted the adjoining land to their Church, First Baptist. The land provided for a parsonage. From a young age, Dr. Current witnessed his parents’ philanthropic spirit, dedication to education and commitment to the Church.

Education and Military Service

A true Gaston native, Dr. Current attended Victory School and Gastonia High School. During this schooling, Dr. Current participated in the Boy Scouts; furthering his leadership development and skills to continue through college and the Air Force ROTC at North Carolina State University. Following two years at NCSU, Dr. Current decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue the dental field. He transferred to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree. Dr. Current was then accepted into the UNC Dental School.

Prior to beginning classes at UNC Dental School, Dr. Current was called to serve in the military. Grateful for his relationship with Air Force ROTC, he was connected to the U.S. Navy ROTC; who allowed him to finish dental school with the commitment to serve in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps immediately following graduation from dental school.

Post-graduation, Dr. Current served two years of active duty as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps. During his tenure with the Navy, Dr. Current met “Liz”, Elizabeth Oden; the then soon to be Liz Current.

Career & Politics

Dr. Current met his match in the Virginia Beach school teacher, Liz. Upon getting married, he and Liz returned to Gastonia to live in his childhood home. Dr. Current practiced general dentistry from 1960 until his recent retirement. He was very involved with dental programs; serving as President of the Gaston County Dental Society, First District Dental Society of NC, North Carolina Dental Society, UNC Dental Alumni Association, and North Carolina Dental Foundation. He also served as Chairperson for: NC Dental Society Ethics Committee, Gaston County Board of Health, Catawba Study Club, and was appointed by Governor Martin to the NC State Health Coordination Council. His career in dental practice led him to serve on many committees and boards for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, including; Vice Chair of Health Planning Committee, Medical Advisory Committee and Audit Committee. While working as a dentist and furthering dental progress across the State; he continued to grow his involvement politically.

In 1968, Dr. Current served as 10th Congressional Chairman for Jim Gardner for Governor. Followed by serving as Chairman for the Gaston County Republican Party (two terms); Delegate for the 1984 Republican National Convention; Co-Chair of the Western District Reagan for President; among many other leading roles. The focus of his political career comes from his dedication to the betterment of North Carolina; serving four terms elected to the N.C. House of Representatives (starting 2004).


Never one to shy away from hard work, Dr. Current has impacted Gaston County through various paths.

  • He spearheaded the opening of the Gaston County Dental Clinic, providing dental care for those without insurance and who could not afford to see a dentist.
  • Past President of the Gastonia Rotary Club, 27 years of perfect attendance
  • He worked tirelessly with the Dental Society Committee to Fluoridate Gastonia City Water to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay. Dr. Current recalls the challenges in implementing the fluoride and those who supported him and the cause, “Mr. Sims spoke at Rotary on behalf of fluoride and encouraged all Rotary members to take a stance by contacting the politicians in Gastonia.”
  • He developed the “roads less traveled” by assisting on the Mayor’s Committee of Surface Transportation to design many of the roads in Gastonia.

Along with the variety of tangible services Dr. Current has provided, he has served on the boards of several nonprofits in our community. Some highlights include: President of the Community Concert Association, board member of the Heart Society and the American Red Cross. He has continued his involvement in Church with First Presbyterian; where he has served as Deacon, Elder (six terms), Sunday School teacher, Past Chairman of Music and Worship Committee and the Past Chairman of Personnel Committee.

The Community Foundation is fortunate to have benefitted from Dr. Current’s excellent service as Chair of the Foundation’s Board and his time spent on the Grants and Executive Committees of the Foundation.


Dr. and Mrs. Current have three daughters; Libby and Ange, both whom are teachers with their master’s degree in education; Sally, an LLD patent attorney. They also have one son, Will, who has continued his Father’s practice of dentistry in Gastonia. The Currents now have 11 grandchildren to continue their wonderful legacy.


Dr. Current is the recipient of many honors, including:

  • Rotary’s Paul Harris
  • American College of Dentistry Fellowship
  • International College of Dentistry Fellowship
  • Gaston County Commissioner William Gaston Award
  • NC Dental Society Citizenship Award
  • Gaston Regional Chamber Spirit of the Carolinas Economy Award
  • Legislator of the Year 2013 Award, NC Association of Local Health Directors

The Community Foundation may now add the Allen H. Sims Award to this distinguished list of honors. Dr. Current has exemplified the character of the Sims Award: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2017 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Dr. Mr. Charlton K. Torrence Jr.

In America we have an expression for getting everything in a series of items right. It is called “batting a thousand”. This expression can be found in the glossary of baseball terms. Someone with a batting average of one thousand has had a hit for every at bat in the relevant time period.*

Viewing one’s life as a game of baseball with innings representing stages, it is easy to make a comparison to baseball and get a sense of one’s batting average. It is the opinion of the Community Foundation of Gaston County’s Board of Directors that Charlton K. Torrence Jr. is batting a thousand in his service to others and our community.

Born in 1928 at Highland Hospital in Gastonia, NC; Mr. Torrence was educated locally from Victory School to Gastonia High School before attending Darlington Prep School followed by Davidson College where he double majored in economics and business. In 1955 he married the late Mary Elizabeth Mason and together they raised three children: Elizabeth Ring, Catherine, and Charlton K. Torrence III. Today he is also proud of two granddaughters: Sarah and Meredith Giles.

If you want to see him smile, ask Charlton Torrence about baseball, specifically a game played in 1945. Young Charlton was an athlete in high school playing football, basketball and baseball. That particular year Shelby had the team to beat, winning the Little World Series. However, there was one team, and only one, with the ability to shut out Shelby that year. The team to do that was Charlton Torrence’s American Legion team and he was the pitcher. He smiles telling of the win and is quick to name his teammates that shut out Shelby, winning 5 to 0. He went on to play football and win the Mid-South championship while at Darlington Prep School and was named Honorable mention All Mid-South. During the summers he played semi-pro baseball.

The skills Mr. Torrence learned playing the team sport of baseball transferred to a career in textiles. Starting out during summers with Superior Yarn Mills in Mt. Holly, a variety of jobs taught the young man textiles from the bottom up. Every job was learned from the opening and picker room, card room, spinning and twister room, ball warps and section beams to the yarn testing lab. All these jobs prepared Mr. Torrence for yarn and fabric sales in many capacities and serving as Vice President for Superior Yarn Mills, Clyde Fabrics, Textiles Inc., which went private to become Ti Caro and later sold to Dixie Yarns. His sales territory covered the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, England, France and Israel. In 1989, Charlton Torrence retired from a successful career in textiles.

Before launching his career, Mr. Torrence joined the US Naval Reserve. In doing so, he served our country from 1951 until his honorable discharge in 1955 as a lieutenant. With a tendency towards service to others, a lifetime of civic duty began. In the late 1950’s Charlton Torrence was a member of the Civitan Club for a number of years. He is currently a member of the Gastonia Rotary Club and a Paul Harris fellow. He served seven years as treasurer of Crisis Assistance Ministries and was instrumental in starting an endowment there. For several years he served on the board of Advisors for Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden along with membership and financial support.

The Schiele Museum awarded Charlton Torrence the Bud Schiele Lifetime Achievement plate in 2009. He has served on the Schiele’s Board of Directors and is currently on the Board of Advisors. As a major contributor himself, Mr. Torrence helped to raise 3.2 million dollars to build the new Environmental Studies Center.

Currently the Schiele maintains a healthy endowment at the Community Foundation for which Mr. Torrence was happy to be a part. Ann Tippitt, Executive Director of the Schiele, recalls the many times she and Mr. Torrence would meet with a prospective donor and how his gentle manner and approach would yield excellent results due to his sincerity.

Each one of us deals with loss in a unique and personal way. As a tribute to his wife and to honor her memory in a way that would give back to others and our community, Charlton Torrence chose to contribute to Gastonia’s Potters House in 1997. Since that time he has supported Potter’s House and continues to work on their behalf.

As a Gaston County citizen, Mr. Torrence has been active locally and beyond. He served three years on the CaroMont Health Foundation grants committee, is a lifetime member of the NC Zoo Society, was President of the Combed Yarn Spinners Association, a former director of the Avon and Peoples bonded warehouses and a member of Gaston Country Club. In 2016, Mayor John Bridgman and the Gastonia City Council presented Mr. Torrence with a letter of proclamation for his accomplishments and dedication to our country and citizens of Gastonia and Gaston County.

Reverend J. J. Kennedy was one of the first pastors for the First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia and was Charlton Torrence’s great grandfather. With that family connection it is easy to understand why Charlton has been so active at the church over the years. Many remember or at least have heard of Dr. James H. Henderlite who was pastor from 1912-1940. Dr. Henderlite baptized Chartlon with water from the Jordan River. Teaching Sunday school, serving as a deacon and an elder, and serving on a nine person committee to update and rewrite the church history are among the many ways Mr. Torrence has participated at the church throughout his life.

Beginning in 1998, Charlton Torrence joined the Board of the First Gaston Foundation and served as treasurer. The work of the First Gaston Foundation is recognized as a game changer for Gaston County and those living here. In 2015, the Board decided to move the First Gaston Foundation to the Community Foundation and create the First Gaston Foundation Fund and Albert Myers Scholarship Fund to effectively preserve the assets and continue to make grants back to the community with considerably less overhead cost. Charlton Torrence, along with all Board members, supported this move and agreed to represent the First Gaston Foundation Fund on the Community Foundation Board of Directors. Charlton was already affiliated with the Community Foundation and established a fund in 1993. Today, Charlton can be counted on to arrive on time to present grant checks to worthy nonprofits when called upon to do so with a cheerful attitude.

As you can see, Charlton Torrence has been around the bases a few times and our community is all the better for it. From the baseball field to the world of textiles, community and church service, this is a man you want on your team. The Community Foundation of Gaston County is proud to have Charlton Torrence on our team and congratulate him as the 2017 Allen H. Sims Award recipient. Mr. Torrence exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2016 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Henry H. Massey Jr.

The year 1959 was a very good year for Gaston County and specifically Mt. Holly, NC. It was a good year because that was when Henry Massey and his wife, Emily Massey moved to Mt. Holly and made it their home. The expression, “Bloom where you are planted” comes to mind when documenting all that happened after they arrived in their new home town.

Henry Massey was born in Waxhaw, NC and attended public school there. He later graduated from Davidson College and is a lifelong Wildcat fan and supporter of his alma mater. He married Emily Sapp from Lancaster, SC that same year. Today, he and Emily have four children and six grandchildren.

Mr. Massey began his career with the First National Bank of Atlanta. He joined his uncle at The Massey Company, a distributor of valves and flow control products, in 1959 and remained there until his retirement as CEO and Chairman in 2000. During this time he also served as a partner in Massey Properties.

As an active citizen of Mt Holly, Mr. Massey served as President of the Mt. Holly Jaycees. He served on the Mt. Holly School Advisory Board, was named Mount Holly Man of the Year in 1967, served on the Board for the Community Relief Organization and served on the committee that created the Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation. Perhaps the local effort that has demanded the greatest share of his time has been his service as Chairman of the Mt. Holly Parks and Recreation Commission, for which he has served as Chairman for over 20 years and continues his involvement today. Danny Jackson, Mt. Holly City Manager, has worked with Mr. Massey since 1987 and had the following to say, “I have learned a great deal from Mr. Massey about community service and volunteerism. He is a quiet man but very effective, and at the end of the day, it is all about being effective.” Mr. Jackson recalled the effort it took to secure a $500,000 PARTF grant for the Tuskaseegee Park Expansion Project, a tremendous boost for the project. He also spoke about the collaboration required as the Commission, led by Mr. Massey, needed easements from three major corporations for the Greenway Project.

In addition to his work in Mt. Holly, Mr. Massey’s involvement and leadership has extended throughout the community of Gaston County. He recalls that growing up in Waxhaw, there were only two places to be: the school or the church. This may account for his focus in the area of education. Following his service on the Mt. Holly School Board, Mr. Massey was elected to the Gaston County Board of Education. He served as Chairman of the Gaston College Board of Trustees, and as a member of the North Carolina Association of Community Colleges’ Trustees Executive Committee. In 1999, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by Belmont Abbey College. He also served a term on the Educational Foundation of UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Directors. He has served on the Board at Gaston Day School and on the Advisory Council for the President of Queens University in Charlotte.

Leaving no stone unturned, Mr. Massey has also been concerned about the overall health and well- being of our community. Back in the 1960s, he supported the successful bond issue for Gaston Memorial Hospital’s initial building on Court Drive by way of a speakers bureau. Henry Massey was one of the speakers that visited civic clubs and other groups to educate the population on the bond issue. He served on the Board of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center for 20 years. For 10 years he served on the Board of CaroMont Health, with two of those years as Chairman. Mr. Massey is currently serving on the CaroMont Health Foundation Board.

His leadership has been extended to many nonprofit organizations in Gaston County. He served as Chairman of the Schiele Museum Board of Directors, the Chairman of the Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce and later as a leader in the Mt. Holly Area Council of the Chamber. He recalls being the initial Chairman and an organizing member of Gaston Together: Communities of Excellence. This group brought in “headliners” with names like Rudy Ruettinger and Art Linkletter to promote the community with positive results. Mr. Massey has also served on the Boards of the United Way of Gaston County and Habitat for Humanity in Gaston County. For many years, he also served as a board member on the Covenant Village Board of Directors.

Mr. Massey was a member of the former Citizens National Bank Board of Directors in Gastonia and later the BB&T Advisory Board in Gaston County. He was presented the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award and the Paul Harris Award from Rotary International.

The Community Foundation of Gaston County has also been a recipient of the time and talents of Mr. Massey. Serving four 3 year terms on the CFGC Board of Directors, Mr. Massey is one of a very few that have served twice as the Foundation’s President. As President in 1997 and 2006, Mr. Massey participated in the growth of the Foundation in gifts, assets and number of funds managed. The Massey family has also participated as donors to the Foundation.

As previously mentioned, his hometown choices for centers of activity were school or church. Henry Massey seems to have continued the practice of spending time at his church. As a member of The First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Holly, he has served in many capacities which include: Deacon, Elder, Sunday School Teacher, and founding member and Chairman of the Endowment Board. By attending Davidson College, which was founded by Presbyterians, he found a way to link church and school together. Perhaps this link goes deeper than the surface and helps explain how one individual can come to a community and work so hard for so long to make it better. The following quote captures the intent of a Davidson education and best describes Henry Massey’s service to our community:

"Davidson frankly avows her belief that Character is more important than Education, that Sincerity, Honor, and Purity are more valuable than Knowledge..." wrote Pres. Henry Louis Smith in the Davidson College Bulletin in October 1904, adding "...true breadth of culture is found in the harmonious development of body, mind, and moral nature."

The Community Foundation of Gaston County congratulates Henry Massey as the 2016 Allen H. Sims Award recipient. Mr. Massey exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2015 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mrs. Mildred J. Sadler*


One word is never sufficient to describe a person. That said, if pushed to select from the dictionary one word to describe Mildred Sadler, the word “dignity” rises to the occasion. For it is with dignity Mrs. Sadler has overcome adversity, has achieved accomplishments, has raised a family and has contributed to our community in countless ways.

Mildred Sadler was born August of 1924 in Clover, S.C. to Essie and Johnie I. Jackson. She married Edward D. Sadler Sr. and together they raised five children. Today her family members number many with 14 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grandchildren. It is a family brimming over with talent and the willingness to share that talent with others.

After earning a BS degree and later a Master’s in Education, Mrs. Sadler began her teaching career in Gastonia at the Highland School. Her career in education was lengthy and she became the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources in the Gaston County School System. Reeves McGlohon succeeded Mrs. Sadler in that position in 1991 understanding he had big shoes to fill. “She was revered in the GCS system, everyone loved her”, said Mr. McGlohon. He further shared some details regarding her time with the school system.

From a historical perspective, she was a key figure in the success of the integration of the school system, a leader and a voice of reason. Gaston County Schools was unique in making a decision on its own to integrate rather than being made to do so by a court order or a federal mandate.

Her legacy is in the value of access to leadership. Even though the system is one of the largest in NC, it maintains a culture of a small system in the availability and access to leadership. Mrs. Sadler is credited with contributing to this open door policy. Having such a history and culture enables GCS to keep some of its highly regarded talent. Mr. McGlohon also talked about her leadership style as being one outside of the limelight. She is not about receiving credit for an accomplishment or goal achievement but more interested in the outcome. Whenever she presented an idea, she had thought it through. Mr. McGlohon has never known anyone with more common sense than Mildred Sadler.

Mrs. Sadler’s role in the community has been a benefit to many. She has held leadership roles with the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Piedmont Chapter of The Links Inc. and the Gaston County Democratic Party. She has been a fund raiser for the United Negro College Fund and the United Way. She has served on the boards for United Way, Gaston Memorial Hospital, the Schiele Museum , the Alliance for Children and Youth and Gaston-Lincoln Area Mental Health. She has been the recipient of many awards : The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, W. Duke Kimbrell Lifetime Civic Achievement Award, the Sellie Issac Clement Service Award, Gastonia Evening Civitan Club’s Woman of the Year and the Athena Award. In 1993, she was designated a Paul Harris Fellow by the Gastonia East Rotary Club as well as Gaston County Woman of the Year. Her name is engraved on the MLK Monument as an honoree of the Gaston County MLK Unity Award.

Known by her church congregation as “Mother Sadler”, Mrs. Sadler describes her church as the cornerstone of her life. Rev. C. Franklin Tillett, Jr., Senior Minister of St. Stephens AME Zion Church, became acquainted with Mrs. Sadler while in seminary and is amazed at her stamina. She attends every Sunday and has served in many capacities: Deaconess, missionary society, lay council member, Department of Christian Education on Conference, District and Connectional Levels of The AME Zion Church, and coordinator of Kitchen Ministry. Rev. Tillett also shared that Mrs. Sadler is highly respected and always seems to have a crowd around her. She imparts her wisdom using sayings that could be described as “Sadlerisms”. One such saying shared by Rev. Tillett involved a moment in time when the church had reached a goal and plans were being made around the celebration. Rev. Tillett was making an attempt to tone down the celebration in an effort to not be boastful but reconsidered when told by Mrs. Sadler “It’s a poor frog that doesn’t praise God for his own pond.”

Mildred Sadler has put that saying into practice by being grateful for her blessings and passing along blessings to our community. Reeves McGlohon believes Mrs. Sadler didn’t retire from working but rather changed venues. She is still active in generating ideas and influencing others to act in a responsible manner and serve Gaston County.

In 1997, Mrs. Sadler established the Mildred J. Sadler Fund at the Community Foundation of Gaston County and in 2012 she established the Mildred J. Sadler Scholarship Fund. Promoting the education of others is a primary goal of the scholarship fund. It is the vision of Mrs. Sadler’s that others will join her in building the scholarship fund for the benefit of future students needing financial support to further their education.

Mildred Sadler is the subject of an interview available online as part of a” Ninety Over Ninety” series produced by the Honorable Robert Sumner. By watching this video, one can gain a better understanding of the obstacles Mrs. Sadler has overcome throughout her lifetime. Although she had the advantages of family support and a good education, she struggled as others of her race with social injustice. It would have been easy to grow bitter and resentful instead of choosing dignity as a course. Mildred Sadler chose dignity and rose above the problems of the day. Because of her strength and attitude our community is a better place.

Tonight we show our appreciation to Mildred Sadler for her dignity and many contributions to our community. Mrs. Sadler exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2014 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. W. Alex Hall*


The Allen H. Sims Award is named in honor of a man remembered for the many contributions he made in service to our community. One specific action he took was to hire Mr. W. Alex Hall. This decision proved to be a good day’s work for Mr. Sims and has paid off for our community in many ways.

Alex Hall was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. He graduated from NC State University in Textile Management and married his sweetheart from St. Mary’s, Virginia McPherson, in 1960. The Halls are parents to two children, Helen Bellamy and the late William (Bo) Alex Hall. Alex began his career with J.P. Stevens. Stevens sent Alex to New York and while he was there, he took a job with Pepsi Cola Company. Lufkin Texas was the couple’s next stop and they remained in Texas for eleven years working for Lufkin National Bank near Houston.

Through the banking network, Mr. Plato (Tete) Pearson heard about Alex and recommended him to Mr. Sims to work for Citizens National Bank in Gastonia. Mr. Pearson’s recruitment skills proved to be excellent. He describes Alex Hall as a “quiet, get things done” kind of guy. Mr. Hall’s banking career spanned from 1965 to 2006 when he retired for a second time. During that time, Mr. Hall served as President of the Western Region for BB&T and was President and CEO of First Gaston, which he started.

Mr. Hall served two and a half years in the U.S. Army at Turner Air Force Base in Albany Georgia. He was Headquarter Battery Commander for the 2nd Missile Battalion in the 43rd U.S. Army Artillery. We are grateful to Alex Hall and others that serve in our military for the freedoms we enjoy and the sacrifices they made on our behalf.
In addition to his banking accomplishments, Alex Hall served in leadership positions on many boards. He served as President of the following boards: Gastonia Rotary Club, Gaston County Chamber, Gaston Country Club, Piedmont Council Boy Scouts of America, Glenn Foundation, Gaston County Art Council and Gaston Hospice. He served as Chairman of both Gastonia Airport Authority and Gaston County Industrial Facilities & Pollution Control Financing Authority. He also served on the Gaston Day School Board and on the Economic Development Committee in Gaston County. As a member of First Presbyterian Church Gastonia, Alex has served as a deacon, elder, committee member and is teacher emeritus of the men’s Henderlite Bible Class. He is a Paul Harris Fellow and a Silver Beaver for Boy Scouts of America.
The Boy Scouts of America organization has benefited greatly from the hours of volunteer work contributed by Alex Hall. As a long-time member of the Piedmont Council, Alex Hall has served on the Executive Board as Council President and as Treasurer for multiple terms. Connie Bowes, Scout Executive, CEO was interviewed and talked about the many “hats” worn by Alex Hall in his years of service to the organization.

Alex and Ginny Hall actively participate at the Community Foundation. As fund holders, benefactors, legacy society members, and longtime RUN for the Money supporters, the Halls demonstrate their commitment to community. Alex Hall served on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation from 2007 until 2012. During his term as President of the Board, he became the first President to serve a two year term via bylaw revision. As a Board member , Alex’s talents for leadership and monetary management were tapped when he was asked to step in as interim Executive Director at the Foundation. For the last two years, Alex has continued to serve as Past President. His careful scrutiny and discernment is counted on by fellow board members and staff alike.
Tonight we celebrate the service and philanthropy of Alex Hall by awarding him the Allen H. Sims Award which is given to those exemplifying the attitude : “the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.”

2013 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients: Mr. Marshall Rauch & Mrs. Jeanne Rauch*


Who can say when the term “power couple” came into being? Regardless of the origin of the phrase, no one in Gaston County that speaks of them would describe Marshall and Jeanne Rauch as anything but a power couple. For their countless contributions to our community, the Board of Directors of The Community Foundation has selected to honor Marshall A. Rauch and the late Jeanne G Rauch with the Allen H. Sims Award.

Jeanne Girard Rauch was born and raised in Gastonia, NC. She attended Duke University and later received a B.S. Degree from Syracuse University. While at Duke she met a dashing young man named Marshall whom she later married and together they raised five children: John, Ingrid, Marc, Peter and Stephanie. She is remembered as a loving mother and devoted wife working alongside her husband and receiving no remuneration from Rauch Industries in the early years. Balancing her religious duties, family life and business responsibilities could not have been easy and has earned her high esteem.

Jeanne also found time for community, specifically in the area of arts. As an accomplished artist herself, Jeanne was a pioneer in the Arts working to establish the Art Guild as the first president, as well as the Gaston County Art and History Museum. She also served on the NC Board of Directors of the NC Museum of Art and Foundation by the same name. She devoted time serving as secretary for the Little Theater of Gastonia and worked with the Girl Scout Council. Lucy Penegar, a dear friend, worked closely with Jeanne on many projects and described Jeanne as “inspiring.” When asked about her friend, Lucy recounts many good memories and simply states: “I miss her”.

Marshall Arthur Rauch can be seen serving up hotdogs and smiles as he greets folks at his famous side yard summer luncheons. Born in New York, NY Marshall either brought with him or acquired an air of southern hospitality. Don Walser worked with Marshall over 25 years at Rauch Industries, the largest manufacturer of Christmas ornaments in the world, and states that never a cross word was shared over the years. As CFO, Don Walser witnessed the kindness Marshall showed his employees, the fair shot everyone received from Marshall, as well as, Marshall’s love of ice cream. Don is also quick to issue a warning to never enter a math contest with Marshall, hence one will lose. Bryan Houck served as a Director of Public Affairs for Bellsouth and AT&T. Through his work in Raleigh, Mr. Houck knew Marshall Rauch to be the most powerful member of the General Assembly for years. Serving as a member of the NC Senate for 24 years, Marshall is said to have set the standard for how the Finance Committee should be run, had a hand in all tax legislation during that time period, and managed his influence without grand standing or drawing attention to himself on the local level.

Marshall has served his country earning the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Medal and the WWII Victory Medal for his military service. He has served his State as a Senator participating and chairing various committees and commissions. On a local level, his activities and accomplishments are too numerous to list. Very active in Temple Emanuel, Marshall continues to serve as Chairman for the Rauch Endowment for Temple Emanuel Fund. As a community leader, Marshall served as Mayor, Pro Tem for the City of Gastonia and as President/director for many non profits. When asked to single out any one accomplishment, Marshall is quick to give others credit but if pushed to highlight one community effort will mention his work as Chairman of the Gastonia Human Relations Committee in the early to mid sixties. It has been noted the integration during those years went especially well in our community and that the work of that committee contributed to the successful integration. In 2004, Marshall Rauch received the first Gaston County Martin Luther King Unity Award for his efforts over the years in race relations.

For twelve years Marshall Rauch has served on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation of Gaston County and in 2008, he served as the President. In 1996, the Rauch Family Fund was established and later in 2006 the family private foundation was moved to the Rauch Family Fund. Through the years, the Foundation’s Board has been the beneficiary of Marshall’s business acumen and compassion for present and future generations here in our community.

We can all learn a great deal from Marshall and Jeanne Rauch. We can learn how a home town girl can become a loving wife and mother and still be the voice in the wilderness for the arts. We can learn how a Duke Basketball player can build an industry while serving his community. Knowing how much the Rauch grandchildren are loved and adored, we can learn about how values are transferred over generations. We can learn how putting the priorities of: faith, family and service to others result in a life brimming with goodness and a legacy for those to follow.

2012 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients: Mr. John K. Long

Born as the son of Marguerite Clark and John Kelly Long of Gaston County, John Kelly Long, Jr. was raised in Gaston County on Linwood Farm, which was owned and operated by his father. Mr. Long attended local schools and High Point University and is affectionately known by his friends as Johnny. In 1960, he married Rebecca Marley and they now have three children and six wonderful grandchildren.

Spending many hours working on the farm, Johnny made the decision that farming was not to be his occupation. From 1961 to 1997 he worked for Carolina Cotton Classing Agency as a cotton salesman with Anderson Clayton Cotton Merchants and owned and operated Carolina Classing Broad Street Bonded Warehouse. Presently, he manages Linwood Farms, Inc. which is proof that life can be circuitous and often brings us squarely back to our roots.
The personal side of Johnny Long includes a lifetime membership at First United Methodist Church, where he has served in many capacities including Chairman of the Administrative Board, Chairman of the Annual Budget Drive, Board Trustee and Chairman of Staff Parish Committee. He loves the outdoors; spending time on his tractor with his trusted canine companion, Nellie. He has many hobbies which include hunting deer and turkey, playing golf and hunting for arrowheads.

A person’s hobbies can reveal things about that person. Johnny Long’s interest in arrowheads struck a cord, so to speak, in reflecting on his accomplishments and contributions to his community. The definition of an arrowhead is “a tip, usually sharpened, added to an arrow to make it more effective or to fulfill some special purpose.”Johnny Long has approached his community service in the manner of an arrowhead. In all his endeavors, he has freely offered his personal strengths and talents to fulfill or improve a specific purpose. He has accomplished a great deal in his service on various Boards, not independently but rather as an arrowhead to provide leadership and guidance to propel projects to completion.

Some examples of his community service are: PTA President at Hunter Huss High School for 2 years, Board of The American Heart Assoc., Board of Crowders Mountain State Park for 16 years, Board of NC State Parks for 3 years, Board of Visitors High Point University, YMCA Board of Directors for 25 years, YMCA Metropolitan Board, Gaston County Board of Health, Gaston Country Club President, Gaston Literacy Council, Board of Directors First Community Bank, Chairman of Local Board of RBC Bank, Board Member of Covenant Village for 20 years. Concerning leadership, Johnny Long has served as President of the YMCA Board of Directors, the Community Foundation Board, and is currently the Board President of Covenant Village. Due to his many years of community service, Johnny Long has received The Phil Ritter Leadership Award, The J.D. Hicks Lifetime Achievement Award and the Duke Kimbrell Lifetime Achievement Award.

From 1996 to 2008, Johnny Long served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Gaston County and was the Board President in 1999. Mr. and Mrs. Long are fund holders and members of the Legacy Society at the Foundation. Mr. Long was very instrumental in obtaining additional space for the Foundation offices and is always eager to help with any project when called upon to do so.

John “Johnny” Kelly Long exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: The selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2011 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mrs. Johan T. Newcombe*


Johan T. Newcombe’s story is a tale of courage, commitment and philanthropy. Born in Charlotte, NC, Johan attended local schools before heading off to Chatham Hall in Chatham, VA and later to Vassar College. Before finishing at Vassar, Johan transferred to UNC at Chapel Hill to be with her husband, Artie whom she married in 1954.

The Newcombes were blessed with four children: Mary, Frances, Johan and Artie. In the early years in Charlotte, Johan was active in her community and first began what would become a life-long habit of giving back to her community. In 1969, Dr. Jonnie H. McLeod began Open House, a drop-in counseling center located in the basement of a local YMCA. Johan was a key fundraiser for Open House which is now known as McLeod Addictive Disease Center.

In 1968, the Newcombe Family began its migration to Gastonia, when Artie Newcombe accepted a position with Parkdale Mills in Gastonia. After spending their entire lives in Charlotte, in 1979, after the four children had all gone off to school, the Newcombe family relocated from Charlotte to Gastonia. Looking back on the decision to move to Gaston County, Johan reflects on her feelings of being committed to the community in which one lives. She did not want to have one foot in one county and the other foot in another. The move for Johan signified a huge lifetime transition. She felt liberated and free to become her own person in her own new space. Taking advantage of an opportunity is what Johan chose to do. In 1982, Johan began working in real estate with Cas Taylor and Manfred Johnston, where she would later obtain office space for Habitat for Humanity.

Becky Carter, the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Gaston County, approached Johan about a new and exciting venture called Habitat for Humanity. With Becky’s urging Johan was persuaded to become the first volunteer president and executive director for Habitat in Gaston County in 1989. Johan laughing tells about being told it was an unpaid position and to bring her own typewriter. None the less, she was able to organize the construction of the first Habitat houses and was the major architect of the program in Gastonia. She credits Becky Carter as a driving force that taught her everything she needed to know and for leading the Community Foundation to provide the primary funding to get Habitat started in Gaston County.

Being familiar with the Community Foundation, Johan was herself a donor. She smiles when remembering the difference of opinions she and her husband had over end points for grant recommendations, always settled to the agreement of both parties. In 1995, after Artie’s death, Johan joined the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation and later served as President in 1998. Johan’s thirst for knowledge concerning what was going on in her community of Gaston County is the primary reason for her Foundation involvement. Her tenure on the Board is highlighted by her involvement with Linda Slade in creating the Run for the Money campaign and the organization of the Next Generation Fund.

Initially representing the Community Foundation, Johan now serves as the community at large representative on the Board of the David Belk Cannon Foundation. Johan also served as a Board member for First Community Bank- Centura. In 2007, Johan received the Spirit of Freedom Award from the Gaston Gazette. She is a Rotary International Paul Harris recipient and has served the Junior League. She is a member of All Saints Episcopal Church, Gastonia.

Artie Newcombe, Johan’s youngest child and only son says of his mother: “I think my mother’s crowning achievement is to have raised four highly successful children with very different interests and chosen life paths, yet they each are deeply involved in charity and giving back to community. This is being passed on to the next generations.“

Johan Newcombe truly exemplifies the Sims Award philosophy: The selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2010 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Ralph S. Robinson Jr.

A native of Gastonia, Ralph Robinson, Jr. is the son of Charlotte and Ralph Robinson, Sr. He is married to the former Sally McConnell of Gastonia and they are blessed with three children, Russell, Leigh, and Greg and six grandchildren. After attending local schools he attended Woodberry Forest School and upon graduation went to Davidson College for one year and then transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill.

In 1957 he joined the family textile cotton mill operations where he had worked since he was 16 years old. In the mid 70’s the cotton mill was sold to J.P. Stevens and Company. The corporation itself, Robinson Mills, became a personal holding company and operates today with diversified stock and real estate holdings.

Being active in First Presbyterian Church has been a constant for Ralph. He has served as a deacon and elder. Many committees and special projects have benefited from his involvement. He especially loves music and has focused on supporting the music program of the church.

Ralph has devoted many years actively serving the community in Gaston County. He has provided leadership for many organizations. Ralph is the Past President of Gaston Community Concert Association, Gaston Chamber of Commerce, Gaston County YMCA, Gastonia Rotary Club, and Gastonia City Club. He was a past Director on the Board of First Union National Bank in Gastonia. He also served as Campaign Chairman and Past President of Gaston County United Way. Ralph is the Founding Co-Chairman of Family Counseling Service. He has served as past Trustee to St. Andrews Presbyterian College and Past Trustee to Gaston County Museum of Art & History. His involvement with the Community Foundation spans a total of 12 years of Board service including serving as President in 1996. Ralph is also a member of the Legacy Society.

Following in the footsteps of his parents, he and Sally have explored the world. Ralph’s wanderlust led them on many exciting adventures. To capture these experiences he has developed a love of photography and can delight visitors with wonderful photos in his home or office. Some of his highlights include scuba diving with his son, underwater photography, swimming with sharks and a trip to Tibet. Ralph once commented to a family member about the ideal conditions of the day describing it as a “blue bird day”. This expression is now commonly used in and around the household and sheds a positive light on the man that coined the phrase.

Long time friends, Fred Morrow and his wife “Bootie”, describe Ralph as being a man that is very family oriented with many fine qualities. With a friendship spanning over 50 years, the Morrows can both speak of Ralph’s concern for others and dedication to family.

As a young man, Ralph achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America organization. It is easy to see that his service did not stop there and became a way of life. Currently, Ralph is the Managing Trustee of The Ralph. S. Robinson Family Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Governors for The Anderson Foundation and Chairman of the Gaston County Library Board. He was honored in 1995 as the NC Trustee of the Year.

Ralph Robinson exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: The selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2009 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients: Mr. J.M. Carstarphen III* & Mrs. Catherine Carstarphen


A lifetime journey for J. M. “Bip” Carstarphen and Catherine Pharr Carstarphen began when their paths first crossed while they were students at UNC-Chapel Hill. A journey that has included their children – a daughter and two sons - and six grandchildren. A journey that has been notable not only for business success but also for commitment to community.

Catherine Ann Pharr Carstarphen was born in Charlotte, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William James Pharr of McAdenville. She attended Sacred Heart Academy in Belmont and Holton Arms in Washington, DC, before entering UNC-Chapel Hill. A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, throughout her life she has also been committed to service to the community – in McAdenville, in Belmont and in Gaston County. The girl scouts, Junior League, the Board of Hospice, and the founding Board of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden have all benefited from her service. Catherine Ann has been a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Belmont where she and “Bip” have both served as deacon and elder. Active in many areas and programs of the church, she was Chairman of the Presbyterian Women and she was honored in 2003 with their lifetime membership award.

“Bip” Carstarphen was born and raised in Tarboro, North Carolina. Overcoming polio as a child, he attended Augusta Military Academy in Virginia and from there, UNC-Chapel Hill when he met Catherine Ann. They were married in 1955. Following college, “Bip” joined Pharr Yarns where, in a career that has spanned over fifty-five years, he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, positions he has held for thirty years. He also serves as Chairman of Pharr International, Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to leading Pharr Yarns, he has been the guiding force in several real estate development and investment companies. Some of their more visible projects include the re-development of McAdenville real estate, the Adams Bluff and Hawthorne communities in Belmont and the Hampton Inn – Belmont developed in conjunction with Belmont Abbey.

In addition to textile boards, “Bip” has served on many other boards: Wachovia Corporation-Southern Region, the North Carolina Manufacturers Association, Carolina Freight, Gaston Memorial Hospital, the Community Foundation of Gaston County, the Economic Development Commission, the Board of Visitors and Board of Trustees of UNC-Chapel Hill, Queens University and Belmont Abbey to name a few. In 2004, he was a recipient of the Spirit of the Carolinas Award and received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Together Catherine Ann and “Bip” were recipients of the Grace Award from Belmont Abbey.

Personally and through the McAdenville and family foundations, Catherine Ann and “Bip” have quietly, but regularly provided significant gifts to churches, to educational institutions at all levels, to hospitals and university medical programs, to the arts and to community organizations. They have been major contributors to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and their gifts to the Catawba Lands Conservancy will serve to protect for future generations property along the South Fork River. Perhaps the most visible, annual gift to the community has been the continued McAdenville Christmas Lights. Through their personal guidance and financial commitment this has been an uplifting tradition for this region.

For these many reasons, The Community Foundation has selected Catherine Ann and “Bip” Carstarphen as the 2009 recipients of the Sims Award. Their commitment to community exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: The selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2008 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Bill Palmer*


Bill is a native of Rocky Mount, NC, and after graduating from high school, he enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he obtained his undergraduate degree and a degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence from its law school.

Upon graduation, Bill joined the U.S. Navy to fulfill his military service requirement and served for three years in the Navy JAG as the legal officer for the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Virginia. Upon severance, he and his family moved to Charlotte where he was employed by R. S. Dickson and Company in the underwriting of municipal bonds.

In 1967, Tete Pearson, who had previously been with R. S. Dickson and Company, offered Bill a position in the trust department of Citizens National Bank, which he accepted; and in 1977, desiring to return to the practice of law, he joined the law firm of what is now Stott, Hollowell, Palmer & Windham.

Following his belief in the value and obligations of service to the community, Bill has served as a volunteer in various organizations in Gaston County. Several of those include the United Fund and as President of the Gastonia Civitan Club, the Schiele Museum and the Community Foundation of Gaston County. As a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gastonia, he has served as its Senior Warden, lay reader, Sunday school teacher and treasurer for thirty years. He was recently named to the Board of Directors of the Balthis Foundation. Bill served on the initial Board of the Community Foundation and after retiring in March of this year, he had served as a member continuously since 1977 with breaks in service as required by the Foundation’s bylaws. In addition to serving as President of the Foundation, he served as its legal counsel for a number of years and contributed back to the Foundation all fees received for his work.

Through his work in estate planning, Bill has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for many years to help plant the seeds of philanthropic giving for the benefit of Gaston County. Charitable organizations in our community will benefit from his efforts for many years to come. “Several of the largest unrestricted funds at the Community Foundation have been a direct result of Bill Palmer’s estate planning,” states Spurgeon Mackie, Executive Director of the Community Foundation.

When asked to present the 2008 Allen H. Sims Award to Bill, friend and 1999 Sims Award Recipient Tete Pearson shared, “I am privileged to make this prestigious presentation to my friend Bill Palmer. He is indeed one of our finest citizens.” Bill is married to the former Carolyn Cheek of Smithfield and is blessed with two sons, Bill, Jr. and Tom, and six grandchildren. He exemplifies the Sims Award attitude: the selfless act of seeing a need and finding a solution, of caring for a community and making a difference.

2007 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients: Mr. George Henry* & Mrs. Dougie Henry*


2006 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Tom D. Efird

2005 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients: Mr. Bob Adams* & Mrs. Tuga Adams


2004 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Daniel Jonathan Stowe*


2003 Allen H. Sims Recipient: Mr. Titus Greene

2002 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. B. Frank Matthews II

2001 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mrs. Rebecca B. Carter*


2000 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. W. Duke Kimbrell*


1999 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Plato Pearson Jr.

1998 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. J. Edward Stowe*


1997 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. Charles E. Zeigler Sr.*


1996 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. J.B. Alala Jr.*


1995 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients:

Mr. Albert G. Myers*

Mr. James Cherry*

Mrs. Eunice Cherry*


1994 Allen H. Sims Award Recipient: Mr. David R. LaFar III*


1993 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients:

Mr. Harold T. Sumner*

Rev. Robert E. Johnson Jr.*


1992 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients:

Mr. Grier Beam *

Mrs. Lena Sue Beam*


1991 Allen H. Sims Recipients:

Mrs. Lucy Rawlings Penegar*

Mr. John L. Fraley Sr.*


1990 Allen H. Sims Award Recipients:

Mrs. Judith Miller*

Mr. A. Leonel Bruennemer*

Mr. James Bynum Carter*

Mr. James B. "Jick" Garland*