Former Rowan Countian is Gov. McCrory’s first choice to receive Order of the Long Leaf Pine
CORNELIUS — Enochville native and onetime South Rowan High School teacher John Cherry has received the first Long Leaf Pine Award handed out by new Gov. Pat McCrory.
Cherry, founder of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, received the award Jan. 24. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is one of the highest civilian awards handed out by N.C. governors.
Cherry, 71, grew up in Enochville, where he attended Enochville Elementary. He graduated from Landis High School in 1960 and Lenoir-Rhyne College in 1964, majoring in economics and history.
After college graduation, he taught social studies at South Rowan High for three years before moving on to North Mecklenburg High.
During his time at South Rowan, he became a charter member of the Enochville Fire Department and was on the church council at St. Enoch Lutheran in Kannapolis.
At North Mecklenburg High, Cherry taught driver’s education for 10 years, and he also obtained a master’s degree in safety education.
He met his wife, June Brittain Cherry, while she was a fellow teacher at North Mecklenburg High. They married in 1968, the same year they bought a lot on Lake Norman. Today they have two married daughters and three grandchildren.
Cherry changed careers in 1977, becoming a State Farm Insurance agent. Today he is president of John Cherry State Farm Insurance.
In 1987, Cherry also founded the North Mecklenburg Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Lake Norman Chamber.
He served as the chamber’s first president and was for many years on its board of directors.
Cherry became a charter member of Rotary of North Mecklenburg in 1989, and for the past 20 years has been co-chairman of the club’s Christmas Project, which feeds 30 families and buys gifts for 80 to 100 children.
Cherry won the Cornelius Citizen of the Year Award in 1997 and the Business Person of the Year Award from the Lake Norman chamber in 1996.
The Lake Norman Chamber annually gives out a John Cherry Service Award, which was started in 2003.
Today, Cherry serves on the board of Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville. He played an instrumental role in attracting Presbyterian Hospital to Huntersville.
In the early 2000s, Cherry and his brother, Kenneth, developed Cherry Acres, which included eight lots in Enochville off Mary Esther Lane.
Cherry received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at the Lake Norman Chamber’s annual awards meeting Jan. 24 in Cornelius. The award came with a letter of recognition from N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, a resident of North Mecklenburg himself.
Tillis joined the meeting later and met with Cherry and members of his family.