WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Doug Jackson, former mayor of Winterville, was presented The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award” — the highest award for state service granted by the Office of the Governor — for serving more than 60 years in his community.

Those who know Jackson said it’s no surprise he received the prestigious award — not only for his time serving as mayor, but also for how much he contributed as an individual and during his time in law enforcement.

A crowd of Jackson’s family and friends gathered at Winterville’s Town Hall beaming with pride and wiping away tears. The Town Hall meeting was more than a regular meeting.

“He’s leaving a tremendous legacy,” said Ricky Hines, mayor of Winterville. “A legacy of public service, and someone who loved his community.”

Town officials honored Jackson for going above and beyond, making an impact and strengthening both their community and state.

“Coming in behind Doug, I was like, wow, you know, 24 years of service and a total of 50 years, including his law enforcement. Doug has been around this community, and his impact has been tremendous,” said Hines.

Jackson, held his wife’s hand as he formally accepted the award Monday.

Town officials said residents would see Jackson riding his golf cart, talking to people, business leaders and the community at large.

“That’s an example of being a good mayor, someone that wants to know all their constituents,” said Hines.

Jackson said the award means a lot to him and he was surprised by the recognition.

“I believe in getting people the flowers while they’re living. And he should be, he should be honored now for what he’s done for this community,” said Hines.