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2023 Hall of Honor

Hall of Honor 2023 Inductees

Gary Dean Poe

Gary Dean Poe was born in Caldwell County to Henry and Annie Poe on November 2, 1943. He grew up in the Granite Falls community and graduated from Granite Falls High School in 1962. Following graduation, he attended Appalachian Teacher's College, which later became designated as a "regional university'' and the name changed to Appalachian State University. There, he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1966.

He immediately began his career as an enthusiastic teacher in Ashe County. First, he taught chemistry at Beaver Creek High School and then moved to Ashe Central High School where he taught science, all totaling 30 years of dedicated service in education.

Following his retirement in 1995, he pursued a career in radio, devoting all of his time to the research and perpetuation of old-time string music, bluegrass and traditional shape-note singing. Poe hosted and produced the Ole Time and Bluegrass Music Show on the West Jefferson radio station WKSK from 1998 to 2021. He was considered a true historian of the area and its ties to ole-time music, contributing more than 5,000 musical selections to the radio station. His collection is recognized as the largest library archive of Appalachian materials in the world and is designated for the WL Eury Appalachian Collection within the Appalachian State University Belk Library and Information Commons.

After retiring from education, Gary Poe contributed countless volunteer hours in Ashe County, serving on the Ashe County Volunteer Initiative Board, the WE care Committee with the Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission to raise funds for those in need of fuel assistance, the Ashe County Historical Society Board for 25 years and the Museum of Ashe County History Board for 12 years. Poe was instrumental in the preservation of the historic 1904 Ashe County Courthouse and initiated a rescue of the facility, advocating for the rehabilitation and conversion of the building into the Museum of Ashe County History.

In 2011 and again in 2016, Poe was one of three people in North Carolina awarded the distinguished Governor's Medallion for outstanding volunteerism. He was also honored by the Museum of Ashe County History with the naming of the outdoor performance area 'The Gary Poe Stage." The Ashe County Board of Commissioners declared "a little after 11" (as he always said on the air) on Saturday, October 9, 2021, as the Gary Poe Day in Ashe County in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to preserving its musical heritage. 

Wayne Hollar, Jr. DDS, PA

Wayne Hollar, Jr. DDS, PADoyle Wayne Hollar, Jr was born in Lenoir to Doyle and Linda Hollar on November 30, 1963. He enjoyed growing up in the Hudson area, attending Hudson Elementary, Hudson Middle, and South Caldwell High School, graduating in 1982. Following high school, he also graduated from Caldwell Community College in 1984 and Appalachian State University in 1986 before entering the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1993.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Hollar has provided a thriving, successful dental practice in Caldwell County. As a true healthcare hero who has brought smiles and brightened countless lives, he has not only established himself as a highly skilled dentist in this area but has also demonstrated unwavering commitment to improve the oral health and overall well-being for the underserved populations through projects that included Give Kids a Smile, the NC Baptist Dental Bus, Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics, among others.

Dr. Hollar's continuous pursuit of knowledge and innovation in dentistry is evident through his involvement as a presenter, educator, and participant in numerous workshops, seminars, and professional affiliations such as American Dental Association, NC Dental Society, Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology. He achieved the status of Fellow of the Academy General Dentistry, a distinguished accomplishment achieved by less than 6% of all dentists in the US and Canada. The Fellowship status is recognized by dental colleagues as one of a leader and role model in the field of dentistry. Always learning more and improving his skills, Dr. Hollar continued his professional development even beyond the Fellow status and pursued, and was awarded, the Master of the Academy of General Dentistry designation, which less than 2% of all dentists achieve.

Beyond his clinical expertise, Dr. Hollar has made it his mission to give back to the community in numerous ways. He has served on the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Foundation Board, the Catawba Valley Community College Dental Hygiene Advisory Board, and Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center Board of Directors. He was recognized with the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce Service in Excellence Award and the Best of Caldwell Award.

Dr. Hollar spent many years as a volunteer leader in the Boy Scouts of America on the local, district, and council levels. He was awarded the District Award of Merit as well as the Silver Beaver Award, an award used to recognize Scouters of exceptional character who have provided distinguished service within a council.

Of paramount importance to Dr. Hollar is his commitment to faith and family. He is married to Jeannie Conrad Hollar and has two adult children. He attends First Baptist Church of Hudson where he has served as Deacon, Sunday School teacher, and on a host of committees over the years.

D. Wayne Hollar, Jr., DDS embodies the essence of a remarkable dentist, healthcare provider, and community leader.

Joseph "Joe" Lindsay Gibbons

Joseph "Joe" Lindsay GibbonsJoseph "Joe" Lindsay Gibbons was born and raised in Lenoir, North Carolina, graduating from Lenoir High School in 1970, where he starred in football, basketball, and baseball. He then entered Appalachian State University on a football scholarship and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. After graduation, he returned to Lenoir and joined his family-owned business, Gibbons Electric Company, which marked the beginnings of more than 50 years of dedicated service and civic duty to the citizens of Lenoir.

Joe's heart, passion, and devotion to the Lenoir community has been exemplified through years of volunteer service. He coached tennis at Hibriten High School and baseball with Lenoir Little League for more than 20 years. He led his Little League to a state championship team in 1983 and was named "Coach of the Year" on six different occasions.

In the community, Joe has served on numerous local, regional, and statewide boards and committees, including several boards at Appalachian State University, Board of Directors for Caldwell Community College, Chairman of the North Carolina Mayors Association Board of Directors, Chairman of the North Carolina League of Municipalities Risk Management Services Board of Trustees, Foothills Regional Airport Authority Chairman, Western Piedmont Council of Governments Board of Directors Vice Chairman, and Chairman of UNC Healthcare Caldwell Board of Directors.

In 1989, Joe joined the Lenoir Planning Board and began his efforts to rebuild and revitalize Lenoir, serving for 16 years on the Planning Board, which led him to run for Lenoir City Council in 2005. He served two terms on the City Council and also held the position as Mayor Pro Tern. For the last 12 years, he has proudly served as Mayor of Lenoir.

Joe has been recognized with many honorable distinctions. His awards and honors include the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Caldwell County L.A. Dysart Man of the Year in 2019, Gibbons Namesake Inaugural Award, James C. Harper School of Performing Arts Loving Lenoir Special Tribute Award, North Carolina Blackberry Festival Hall of Fame Inductee, caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, and the Wig Bank of Caldwell County Heart in Hands Award.

In addition to his civic volunteerism, Joe is a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of Lenoir and has been elected as a Life Deacon, a special honor given to members with many decades of service.

Joe has been married to the love of his life, Becky Rutty Gibbons, for 48 years. Joe and Becky have two children, son Joseph Gibbons and daughter Megan Gibbons Apple, husband Brian, and two grandchildren, Lily and Will Apple.

Joe's motivation, drive, dedication, and servant's heart is his legacy - setting an example for others and to guide their futures. 

R. Edgar "Ed" Whitener

R. Edgar "Ed" WhitenerR. Edgar (Ed) Whitener graduated from Lenoir High School in 1967 and in 1971 graduated from Appalachian State University, Cum Laude, where he received a Bachelor of Music Education degree in Education and was an invited member of the prestigious Pi Kappa Lambda, an honor society for students of music and Kappa Delta Pi, an honor society in Education.

He began his teaching career in Surry County in 1971 and returned to Caldwell County and served as Dean of Students at The Patterson School for two years. In 1979 he began a legacy of musical excellence in the Caldwell County Schools teaching for 26 years at William Lenoir Middle School where he served as band director. During this time, he directed the eighth-grade band, which received 22 superior ratings at the renowned Band Festival, 21 of those being consecutive superior performances. In 2005 he took the seventh-grade band to the Band Festival, also receiving a Superior Rating. This was their first participation in this since 1977. 

For years, he was instrumental in the mentorship and music instruction of students, which led to countless students receiving statewide recognition for their musical artistry. At least 60 of his students pursued music as a profession, ten becoming education band directors.

In his career, he has served as chairman of the Northwest District Bandmasters and the Northwest District Band Festival, and member of the State Board for the North Carolina Bandmasters. He was accepted into the American School Band Directors Association in 1999 and in 2016, he was inducted into the NC Bandmaster Association Hall of Fame. He has also served as an adjudicator at Band Festivals in multiple states as well as conductor/clinician for honor bands. In 1997, he was selected as the Caldwell County Teacher of the Year and awarded semi-finalist Northwest Regional Teacher of the Year the following year. In 2013 he was awarded the Pinnacle Award by Loving Lenoir and in 2016 he was recognized for his contributions to the community by the Harambee Festival.

Ed Whitener has extensively supported community outreach projects over the years, serving on the Caldwell County American Cancer Society Board, the Caldwell County Friends of the Museum Board, Lenoir High School Foundation Board, Caldwell People Board, Advisory Board for the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University and the Caldwell County Arts Council, to name a few. As a member of the Whitener Foundation since 1993 and chair since 2000, he was the recipient of the Central Carolina Bank Gold Apple Award in 2004 for community and educational support from the Whitener Foundation, which has generously supported numerous agencies in Caldwell County and throughout the state, to include education, faith-based community, civic and musical organizations.

His dedication and love for music permeates all aspects of his life. He is an active member of Waterlife Church and previously served as deacon at Lower Creek Baptist Church, New Life Baptist Church, and choir director for Zion United Church of Christ for over 10 years, along with various responsibilities.

He has been married to Karen Pennington since 1969, and they have two children, Shawn and Rebecca. They also have six grandchildren and two great-grandsons and three fur baby dachshunds.