Ten receive North Carolina Award

Posted November 17, 2008 7:30 p.m. EST

— Gov. Mike Easley and First Lady Mary Easley on Monday presented the North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor the state can bestow, to 10 people.

“These awards are our most prestigious civilian honor and are given to those North Carolinians whose contributions to the state are enduring and truly significant,” Mike Easley said in a statement. “We are fortunate to live in a state with so many outstanding individuals who, through their leadership, their talents and their time, have helped make North Carolina a better place to live.”

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Awards have been presented annually since 1964. More than 230  people have been selected as recipients from citizens’ nominations from across the state. The categories included fine arts, literature, public service and science, and the 2008 winners are as follows:

Science – Maurice S. Brookhart

A chemist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Brookhart was recognized for his ability to develop fundamental chemical insights in organometallic chemistry and polymerization and to transfer them into the realm of commercially viable industrial technologies. He is described as versatile, creative and internationally recognized and is admired as a teacher and mentor.

Literature – Charles Frazier

Frazier looked to what he knew best – the mountains of North Carolina – to write his first novel, "Cold Mountain." The epic evokes the Appalachians of the 19th century. With his much anticipated second novel, "Thirteen Moons," Frazier again crafted a story rich in the heritage of western North Carolina that is intertwined with heritage of the Cherokee Indians.

Fine Arts – Gerald Freedman

The dean of the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts since 1991, Freedman is known worldwide for his innovative directing and production of some of the world’s greatest plays. He has had tremendous influence on students and actors who credit him with shaping their careers.

Public Service – Ann Goodnight

An advocate of visual arts and education, Goodnight has a vision that enhances the quality of living in the state. Everyone who visits the North Carolina Museum of Art reaps the benefits of her work.

Literature – Margaret Maron

Maron once wrote short stories exclusively, but she mustered up the courage to tackle the novel form after discovering advice on persistence in an 1897 cookbook to young brides learning to bake bread. Since then, Maron has produced 25 novels that have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Public Service – James Grubbs Martin

Former Gov. Martin credited his positive outlook to the people of North Carolina, noting “the great reservoir of good will” for the office. Martin’s personal “era of good feeling” coincided with the second term of President Ronald Reagan, and both men derived much of their personal popularity from the economic successes of the 1980s.

Fine Arts – Alexander Rivera

Rivera, a pioneering photojournalist with lifelong ties to North Carolina Central University, died Oct. 23. With the passage of time, more and more people came to recognize the images Rivera captured as a working member of the black press covering the civil rights movement.

Public Service – Dean Edwards Smith

A lifelong proponent of human rights, Smith has championed racial equality both on and off the basketball court. In 36 seasons as the head basketball coach at UNC-Chapel Hill, he built an exemplary program and led the Tar Heels to two NCAA championships, 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours and 879 victories.

Public Service – Fred and Alice Stanback

The Stanbacks are galvanizing forces in the land conservation movement in North Carolina. Having generously supported protection and management efforts ranging from the rich mountain landscapes to the fragile coastline, the Stanbacks invested in the state’s present and future.