Ponds receiving Long Leaf Pine

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 27, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
GRANITE QUARRY — The mayor of Granite Quarry will be receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, an award often touted as the state’s highest civilian honor.
Mary Ponds found out she would be receiving the award, which is given to those who have a proven record of service to the state, during a program honoring outstanding women at White Rock A.M.E. Zion Church on Sunday.
“That’s a big deal,” she said. “I’m lost for words because I do nothing for the glory.”
Ponds said she was grateful for the honor, which she called “truly humbling.”
Bill Feathers, the town’s mayor pro-tem, said Ponds “broke the mold” when she became the mayor of Granite Quarry in 1999. She is the first woman and the first black resident to hold the office.
“What most of us forget is being mayor is part-time job in a small community,” Feather said. “She never lets it show.”
Ponds, who is currently serving her fifth term as mayor, retired from the Rowan-Salisbury School System after 34 years as a middle and high school science teacher. She currently serves on boards for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, the Nazareth’s Children’s Home, Smart Start Rowan and Rowan Regional Medical Center.
Yvonne Tracey, general president for the Connection Lay Council, said she remembers meeting Ponds when she was a “feisty” student at Livingstone College. She said she’s proud to see what a servant leader Ponds has become.
Jean Kennedy, vice-chairwoman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said she and Ponds faced adversity growing up, but that never kept them down.
“When we were young we were sometimes not told very pleasant things by some of our teachers,” Kennedy said. “We bonded together and today we laugh at those things and how we overcame them because they, unlike other teachers, did not see the potential that was there. You know, like how you don’t see a diamond when its first mined.”
Kennedy said not only is Ponds a great leader, she’s an outstanding person with a “cheerful disposition.”
“I consider myself more than just a former classmate, I’m a lifetime friend,” she said. “On May 1 every year, no matter where she is in the world, this lady is going to call me and wish me happy birthday and she has never failed to do that.”
Chris Sifford, who used to work with Ponds at South Rowan High, said Ponds has always had an encouraging word for him.
“She would always say ‘You can do it, you’re where you need to be, no one is better than you are, you deserve to be where you are,’” he said.
Ponds said she sought to instill confidence in others.
“I always wanted young people to know there’s no place that you can’t go, there’s nothing that you can’t do,” she said. “And if I can open a door or I can tread a path for someone then that is my responsibility.”
White Rock Pastor the Rev. Morgan Glenn said Ponds is someone people can look up to.
“We’re grateful for her humility and her service to our church,” he said.
Ponds said she always strives to be an example.
“The world is for us to have, but if we don’t lead the way nobody will follow,” she said. “Just know all I do is never for me, what I do is for the glory of God and so somebody else can be led to higher ground.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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More outstanding women
Twanda Ann Mitchell and Edrena Jannette Davis Turner-Beatty were also honored as outstanding women at White Rock A.M.E. Zion Church on Sunday.
Mitchell serves as deaconess, leader of leaders and  stewardess at the church. She is also the secretary of the gospel choir and usher board.
The North Rowan High School graduate is also a member of the local Christian education board and the local lay council.
Turner-Beatty is also an active member of the church, serving as a member of the stewardess board, lay council, Christian education board and evangelist board. She is the president of the deaconess board.