Lees-McRae College presented Banner Elk Town Manager Rick Owen with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award and Alumni Board immediate past president Lynn Swisher Neese with the 2012 Alumni Service Award during the Green and Gold Alumni Brunch on Saturday, October 6 during Homecoming Weekend.
Owen is a 1988 and 2000 graduate of Lees-McRae College. A native of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain, Owen has served as Town Manager of Banner Elk since 2010. He also serves as Mayor of Beech Mountain, a position he has held for 11 years. He graduated from the UNC School of Government Municipal Administration course earlier this year.
Owen is married to Nancy and they have one son, Hampton, 8. Owen is the son of former Banner Elk Mayor Deka Tate, a member of Banner Elk Presbyterian Church and has over 20 years of experience in resort management.
"To be recognized by this group of people, I can't even tell you how much this means to me. I have been involved with the College over the years; one of the main reasons is in the 20 years I was in resort management, I had hundreds of Lees-McRae students who worked for me and with me. It was really great to get to know all these students, and it really helped me maintain my connection to the college. It cannot be any more of an honor to be recognized this way. I am humbled to know that this group of people thinks of me as a distinguished alumnus of Lees-McRae College," said Owen.
To be considered for the Distinguished Alumni Award, an individual must meet the following criteria: be an alumnus or alumna of Lees-McRae College; demonstrate a respectable profession or life mission for which the College is exceptionally proud; distinguish his or herself in business, life work or worthy endeavor; and manifest and commend the hallmarks of the Lees-McRae graduate in his/her life.
Neese is a 1988 and 1990 graduate of Lees-McRae College. Over the last several years, she has hosted multiple alumni events in her home. She has been a member of the Alumni Board for several years, first serving as the Greensboro Representative.
"This is a great honor, and I thank all of you. I love this school, and it means a lot to me," said Neese accepting the award.
While at LMC, most people knew her as "Swish" and she still goes by this today. Having stayed at Lees-McRae through the 2-year to 4-year transformation, she is connected to many alumni. She has planned reunions for both of her classes at Lees-McRae and makes sure to reach out to those who haven't returned to campus in a long time.
She served on a Committee to help plan Frolic Week and Homecoming for several years. In 2009, Neese was elected Vice President of the Lees-McRae Alumni Board. In February 2011, she took on the role as President of the Lees-McRae Alumni Board.
To be considered for the Alumni Service Award, an individual must meet the following criteria: be an alumnus or alumna of Lees-McRae College; provide significant service to Lees-McRae College and/or the Lees-McRae Alumni Association; demonstrate a continuing interest in Lees-McRae by attending alumni events on and off campus and by contributing time, energy or money to programs of the institution; and manifest and commend the hallmarks of the Lees-McRae graduate in his/her life.
To nominate a classmate for an alumni award, visit go.lmc.edu/alumni and click on "Alumni Awards."
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