Tuesday, July 8, 2014 —
Pauline Almond is just as humble a person today, at age 89, as she was way back in 1952.
More than six decades of service to various organizations such as the Lions Club and Veterans of Foreign War has not changed her. Her more than 62 years as a Sunday school teacher and member of First Baptist Church of Locust has kept her grounded. When she became the first woman to serve on the Locust City Council, from 1979-83, her main goals then — as they were before and after — were to help people.
So it is not surprising when the Lions Club recognized her with The Jack Stickley Fellowship, one of the highest honors given by the North Carolina Lions Foundation, she was humble at receiving the recognition.
“I didn’t do any of that work for personal gain or anything,” she said.
“You run into community activities you want to participate in. I don’t have anything real personal to tell about it.”
Almond served in the Lions Club before women were even admitted to the organiztion, which came in 1987. When the Locust Lions Club was organized in 1952, she was right there with her late husband, Reece, serving in any capacity she could.
But her service did not end once the Lions Club meetings did. She was dietician and food services manager for both Locust Elementary School and West Stanly High School for years. She was president of the Locust chapter and the district president of the VFW Auxiliary.
She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and delivered mobile meals for those in need well into her 80s. She was owner and operator with her husband of the Western Auto store in Locust.
Part of her spirit, enthusiasm and willingness to contribute likely came from her athleticism: she played varsity basketball at Appalachian State University. But most of it came just because of her willingness to help others and how it made her feel to make others as happy as she was.
“We worked with firemen organizations and they worked toward getting a doctor in Locust,” she said.
“We didn’t have any medical facilities, so they worked on that. They had many activities going on, and I supported what we could as they went along.
“You know the people better because you worked with them. Once you get to know the people, you want to work together to accomplish the goals.”
Gail Barbee, who also works with the Lions Club and whose husband, the late Wilson Barbee, served on the Locust City Council and was mayor from 1995-2003, has known Almond since 1972. The Barbees moved back to Locust then, and Gail Barbee saw right away the things Almond was doing in the community. From cooking, decorating and cleaning to preparing gifts that would be distributed at the Veterans Administration hospital in Salisbury, Barbee realized quickly the impact Almond had on the Lions Club.
“She and her son always fixed those bags (for the VA hospital) for us,” Barbee said.
“She drove the truck and put out the flags, and her son put out the flags when we had flag routes.
“She kept active all the time. I’d go by and pick her up and we were off to the Lions Club.”
Almond’s son Hoyt, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky was told about the award his mother would receive and told her about it a couple of days before she received it. It seemed like she was the only one surprised that she was going to get such a high honor.
Everyone else, including Hoyt and her other son, Dale, who lives in Locust, knew she deserved the distinction.
“To me, the motto of the Lions Club is ‘We serve.’ My mother has been about that her entire life,” Hoyt Almond said.
“She’s a very humble person. I told her it was going to happen a couple of days before it did happen. She was very surprised. She said she didn’t deserve it.
“I know they make some kind of contribution to the (North Carolina Lions) foundation, so she was pleased they would do that. That’s the main thing she was happy about.”
Jacob Nance, another member of the Lions Club, moved to Locust from Oklahoma in 1986. He, like so many others, saw and appreciated the efforts of Almond both at the Lions Club and in the community.
“They were operating a local hardware store then because we didn’t have any other place to go,” Nance said.
“She would always pin a poppy on you for the VFW. I looked forward to the telephone call from her that said the Lions Club was meeting tonight.”
Almond, who was also named Lion of the Year in 2008 and was recognized by the Locust City Council in 2013 for her contributions to the city, has been slowed recently due to a hernia surgery and a broken right leg she sustained in a fall at her house. She is recovering from both and is not going to rest on her accomplishments.
“I don’t know what contributed to all of it (receiving the award),” she said.
“You just wanted to work within the community for different things you saw that needed to be done.
“I don’t feel like I did that much. I’m interested in the community today as much as when we moved back to Locust in 1946. So I’m interested in the best of the people, what we can do and what I can do.”
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