Dennis Wicker was recently honored by the NC Chamber with its Distinguished Service Award.

Dennis Wicker was recently honored as a recipient of the NC Chamber’s Distinguished Service Award.

The former lieutenant governor and Sanford resident was recognized in a virtual ceremony on March 18. The Distinguished Service Award and the Distinguished Citizen Award “celebrate notable individuals who have fostered North Carolina’s prosperity and promise,” according to an NC Chamber news release.

“I was very overwhelmed, humbled and very honored to be included in a group of people that had been the recipients of this award before,” he said Friday in an interview. “I just felt like I didn’t belong in that group. Some of the previous recipients have been people like Billy Graham, Sen. Sam Ervin, Sen. Jesse Helms and people like that. These are people you grew up with, admired and had good feelings about. I am very deeply appreciative.”

Wicker serves as the founder of the Lee County Education Foundation, which has granted more than $750,000 to the Lee County Schools over the past 15 years. Wicker, who attended Lee County public schools, was the first statewide-elected official to chair the State Board of Community Colleges.

Wicker said the honor isn’t his alone.

“I give a lot of credit to my parents, who were very involved in public affairs and public service in North Carolina,” Wicker said. “Also, my wife, who had to raise our three boys to help me through those times when I couldn’t be at home. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve had in public service. Whatever success I’ve had in public affairs, I give a great deal of credit to my parents who taught us the ideal of public service and my wife, who stood by as my partner.”

Wicker is an attorney in Raleigh and serves on numerous boards and foundations.

“I want to stay active and this award has just inspired me to do more,” Wicker said. “I am staying active and I will stay active because I think all of us have an obligation to give something back. That drives me. I am committed and dedicated to that cause.”

Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley, the Distinguished Citizenship Award winners, have funded more than 100 students’ full tuition at N.C. A&T State University, opening doors for rising leaders to maximize their potential. They have launched high school programs to connect Black-owned businesses and the school system.

The ceremony, presented by Food Lion, featured keynote speaker Andrew Busch. He was the first chief market intelligence officer for the U.S. government at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and is an expert on the economic impacts of infectious diseases.