John Hart, Phil Kirk to receive North Carolina Award

  • Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:28 p.m.

RALEIGH — The state’s highest civilian honor, the North Carolina Award, will be presented to six distinguished North Carolinians Thursday, Nov. 21. Among those honored will be former Salisburians John Hart and Phil Kirk.

“It is an honor to pay tribute to these remarkable individuals who have made North Carolina better by their extraordinary involvement in this state,” says Susan Kluttz, Secretary of the N. C. Department of Cultural Resources and former Salisbury mayor. “Each has enriched the lives of our citizens and propelled North Carolina onto the national and world stages.”

Hart will be honored for literature: John Hart, a former attorney, landed on The New York Times bestseller list with his first published effort, “The King of Lies” (2006). With the release of his second book, “Down River” (2007), and his third, “The Last Child” (2009), Hart continued to appear on bestseller lists and became the only author to ever win consecutive Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. Salisbury and Rowan County provided inspiration for his early books, with his fourth effort, “Iron House” (2011), alternating between the criminal underworld of New York City and the Tar Heel state. Hart’s novels can be found in 70 countries, having been translated into 30 different languages. His other honors include the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, the Barry Award and the fiction prize from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Davidson College, his alma mater and where he serves on the board of visitors, presented him a distinguished alumnus award earlier this year. The University of South Carolina recently awarded him an honorary doctorate during graduation ceremonies.

Kirk is being honored for public service: Phil Kirk has dedicated his life to education and economic development, serving along the way as a member of the North Carolina State Senate; as chief of staff to two governors and a U.S. House member; and as the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Human Resources (now the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services) during two different administrations. He lent his time and experience to more than 30 boards and commissions during both Democratic and Republican administrations, and his influence has been felt all across the state. The sustained contributions by Kirk came with his dual appointments as director of the North Carolina Council for Business and Industry (now the North Carolina Chamber) and as chairman of the State Board of Education. The roles permitted him to pursue two objectives, ones he views as mutually dependent, advancing business and raising educational standards. Kirk’s many honors include an honorary doctorate from Catawba College, the I.E. Ready Award from the community college system, the Holderness-Weaver Award for public service from UNC-Greensboro and the Boy Scouts Citizen of the Year Award.

The other 2013 honorees include Dr. Myron S. Cohen of Chapel Hill for science; John E. Cram of Asheville for fine arts; Dr. John Harding Lucas of Durham for public service; and Dr. Walt Wolfram of Cary for public service. The awards are administered by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Gov. Pat McCrory will present the awards at the 7:15 p.m. banquet and ceremony on Nov. 21, following a reception for the recipients at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham.

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Awards have been presented annually since 1964. The award recognizes significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service and science. For additional information, please call (919) 807-7388 or (919) 807-7256.

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