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The original item was published from 2/5/2019 3:01:00 PM to 2/5/2019 3:01:49 PM.

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Posted on: February 5, 2019

[ARCHIVED] 2019 Fabric of Our Community Awards Recipients Named

Lightkeeper Awards

The Fabric of Our Community civic award recognizes individuals or groups who help achieve higher civic education, improve the civic infrastructure of our community and efforts to advance citizenship, citizen participation and encouragement of community.

Named to the recognized for 2019 are:

Louis Sewell (Posthumously) 

So proud of his heritage of being from Jacksonville, that Louis frequently said he could not sleep well when away from his beloved City. A former middle school principal, he used savings to help launch Golden Corral with a childhood friend from Jacksonville. His greatest benefit to the community, and his legacy, will be his use of acquired influence to bring awareness of the needs for his community to others.

SgtMaj Joe Houle, USMC Ret. 

A well-honored servicemember whose presence is legendary within the community. It seems that only a few public events occur without some involvement of this ever-present volunteer. He continues to serve the Marine Corps as a passionate leader in the Museum of the Marines. This Purple Heart recipient teaches young Marines about their history, mostly by sharing personal accounts about his service that dates back to Vietnam. He loves to introduce young active duty Marines to volunteerism in the community. He cares for them, but also teaches them about the organizations they are helping.

Rev Joel Churchwell 

Bridging military service with religious leadership for a historical church, the Rev. Joel Churchwell has reached out from the pulpit to provide leadership, representation and benevolence to his community. A former active duty Marine, Rev Churchwell demonstrated leadership while excelling as a second generation Marine leader. In 2003, while still in the service, he was called to preach. He now serves as the pastor for Sandy Run Missionary Baptist Church. Outside of the church, his service has included many different organizations including the Onslow School Board.

Abe Rosen 

The Beirut Bombing of October 23, 1983 is central to the creation of this award. The award comes from the ripple created by the loss of so many community members on that day and the subsequent reaction within our community. The special efforts that grew from that fall day caused the Beirut trees to be planted and the Beirut Memorial to be constructed. But it was not easy to get the project to the finish. After it stalled, Abe Rosen was called upon to organize the final push. He continues to be involved as chairman of the Beirut Memorial Advisory Board and for many years, was the narrator and Master of Ceremonies for the annual observance.

Leon Ward Sylvester Jr (Posthumously) 

A lifetime of benevolence and charity has marked the lifetime of Ward Sylvester Jr. His signature grocery store became civic infrastrucute for Richlands. It was the vision and action of Leon Ward Sylvester Jr that created this legacy and his actions of philanthropy, caring and political involvement. He passed in 2016. His work for economic development was county-wide and his influence was also widely recognized.

The Presentation

The awards are to be presented as part of the 2019 Golden Rule Lightkeepers & Fabric of the Community Awards Luncheon set for Noon, February 21, 2019 at the Courtyard by Marriott. Tickets available at

The Award

During the recognition of the far-reaching effects of the Beirut Bomb Blast of 1983, our community recognized that the fabric of our community had been torn by the loss of so many in a single day. So interwoven were those who were lost that day, that our community suffered not only the incredible loss of the potential of their lives lost, that as a civic entity, we lost their valued contribution to the civic infrastructure.

Therefore, the Committee wishes to recognize persons or organizations who perform actions that improve the fabric of our community by undertaking such actions described in the bylaws, or who by their actions advance deficiencies or areas for improvement identified in the Civic Index. These actions are not intended to recognize a single year of work, but a body of work that could span several years or a lifetime.

The Committee

The Onslow Civic Affairs Committee serves to advance Civic Education and annually holds the 9/11 Patriot Day Observance, Freedom Fountain Observance, Freedom Day Observance and holds tributes for those fallen in war. They perform a Civic Index that accesses the community’s civic infrastructure and performs other actions to advance Civic Education.

Eleven persons have been awarded the status of Fabric of our Community Award. Five additional panels will be added as part of the 2019 class.

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