You may be able to take him out of Burgaw, but you'll never be able to take Burgaw out of Charles M. Harrell, Sr. "It was in 1944 when I was 15-, 16,000 miles away from Burgaw in World War II," Harrell said. "All I wanted to do was get back to Burgaw." Other than that brief tour overseas, Harrell has spent his entire life in the Pender County town. He's held public office there for the past 34 years, including stints as the Mayor and Fire Chief. Recently Harrell joined the likes of Michael Jordan and Maya Angelou in the order of the long leaf pine -- the state's highest honor given to a civilian for public service. "A person can't live in an area and prosper without wanting to help it," said Harrell. His many accomplishments include helping get phone service to the town in the 1950s. He's also helped run his family business -- Harrell's department store -- for the past fifty four years. It's been a staple in downtown Burgaw for more than a century. "Most everybody that has lived here any length of time at all knows him," said Harrell's son Herb. "He's the type of person that doesn't want to be sitting down in a rocking chair. he wants to be up moving and working and talking to people." Mr. Harrell retired from local politics this past December. He achieved another milestone this week -- on January 2nd, 2008 he celebrated his 82nd birthday.
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