GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) “‘(Ken) so life’s not slowing down any?’ oh you can’t slow down. You slow down, you die. You’ve got to keep going,” said Parker Overton, Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipient.
And that’s exactly what businessman and entrepreneur Parker Overton is doing at 75 years old.
He’s won plenty of awards in those three-quarters of a century.
But nothing quite like the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award for state service granted by the office of the governor.
“I was very surprised,” said Overton. I was actually taken aback by it because I had no idea it was for me.”
The award is meant to honor those who have gone above and beyond to strengthen and impact their communities.
Overton is currently Chairman-Elect of Greenville Utilities Commission and Chairman of the Board of the Vidant Health Foundation.
“I stay busy,” said Overton. It seems like every day you get up in the morning you don’t know where you’re going to be, but you still wind up meeting with people all day. And that’s great.”
On this day things were a little more relaxed as he gave me a tour of his sprawling property in Pitt County.
It all started with a love of water sports, selling water skis inside his father’s grocery store in the 1970s.
“Started actually out of the boot of my car,” said Overton. And had some items on my ping pong table in the back room at the house and I would carry them to tournaments, and I’d sell them. And then I bought a small ad in a magazine and then people started buying. I put in an 800 number and the rest is history.”
That company, Overton’s, would at one time be the world’s largest water sports and marine accessories dealer.
“Well when you’ve built a business and started with basically $400 and you turned it into one of the largest businesses in the world, I mean yeah you’re proud of that,” said Overton. But I was proud of my people that worked with me. I’ve just been truly blessed.”
These days Overton loves spending time at home with all his animals.
And he says it’s here where the home will always be.
“I love where I live, man,” said Overton. I’m just going to tell you like it is. I mean Greenville is a great place. I’ve been blessed in the business I’ve been in that I’ve been all over the world. And then when I cross the Pitt County line coming back home, it’s home. And look we’ve got the water; I mean we’ve got everything here. We’ve got the university. Greenville is a great place. Greenville is one of the best-kept secrets in the world.”