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The Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce of the year awards were announced in late 2021. The woman of the year is someone who believes very firmly in paying it forward, Judy Blackwood Holland.

“As a young person growing up in Charlotte, I had an awesome mother, church youth leaders, scout leaders and coaches who influenced and nurtured me,” she said. “One cannot do volunteer work without the support of family. My husband, Charles has always done his part. He was a card-carrying Girl Scout.”

The Hollands moved to Lincolnton in 1969 with their two young daughters. That was when her path took her to meet the outstanding “movers and shakers” in the community such as Betty Gamble, Dot Crowell, Jan Agner, Fran Barnette and later Marcia Cloninger, Diane Brogden, Brenda Robinson, Cathy Davis, and Sherry Reinhardt, just to name just a few. 

The family also became members of First Baptist Church where Holland remains grounded. 

“I served as several PTA officers during my daughters’ school years,” she said. “My involvement with girl scouting has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done as I have seen my scouts become magnificent, strong young women giving back to their communities.”

Being invited to the Priscilla Book Club is a big highlight in Holland’s life because it’s where she met lots of new forever friends who are mostly teachers.  

“Band boosters was exciting for us for several years, where I made more life-long friends,” she said. “Time and money spent on young people is never, ever wasted.”

The Hollands have been involved with the Lincoln Cultural Center since the very beginning and they’re thrilled to see all the hustle and bustle in the center. Holland is currently a member of the Lincoln Cultural Center board.

“I felt like it was a community duty to serve on the Planning and Zoning Board for about four years,” she said. “I was also on the first board of Habitat for Humanity because people needed a home for their children. Those houses I helped paint are still there sheltering those families.”

Holland is a charter member of Sunrise Rotary Club, and her husband made her a Paul Harris Fellow. That’s where she said that she met even more new friends who work hard to make Lincoln County better.

“On my bucket list was getting in DAR which I’ve accomplished,” she said. “Those women are true blessings who know what sacrifices gave us the life we live today. My latest adventure has been becoming a member the board of Thunder Over Carolina helping to keep alive the events of the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.  I really adore those people as they are so passionate about the mission.”

Along the way Holland got her real estate license and for more than 30 years, enjoyed the company of new people as well as Lincoln County residents helping them to find the perfect home.

“I told them how wonderful it is to live in a small community,” she said. “I got to be an ambassador for our wonderful town. Many of those people are now cherished friends. I am not through yet. I’ve just been invited to attend the meeting to a group tasked with preserving historic homes.”

To be accepted as a Woman of the Year nominee, the candidate must live or work in Lincoln County and the areas of a woman’s contributions to be considered include church, civic and community, family, and profession. A secret panel is chosen, and the panel reads each nomination and decides on whom they fell exemplifies the Lincoln County Woman of the Year. Holland now joins a great list of great Lincoln County women of the year.

The man of the year is one that may be considered quiet but mighty. In fact, he was recently given the “Quiet Rotarian” award from the Rotary Club of Lincolnton where he’s been an active member for more than two decades. According to Ed Lindsey, the current president of the Rotary Club of Lincolnton, Dean Lutz is not quiet at all. He simply “gives generously of his time and money without seeking or expecting recognition.” Often his gifts are given anonymously.

“I’ve been around Lincolnton since 1981 and I try to get involved with all sorts of charitable causes,” Lutz said. “I’ve dealt with candidates for man of the year over the years, it never occurred to me that I’d be on the receiving end.”

Lutz opened a business in Lincolnton in 1981 and got involved in government work and named to county committees around that time. 

“I’ve been on so many committees over the years, it’s hard to remember all of them,” he said. “I was chairman of the county planning board, chairman of the board of adjustments in the county, and been involved with the United Way. I think one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done, and I remember most, is being involved with Communities in Schools. I was contacted by a teacher at West Lincoln Middle School to come and speak to her students. She talked with me after I got there, and then asked me if I’d come every week and she’d assign me a student to be his mentor. I did that for a long, long time. I was on the Communities in Schools board for a long time too. I made friends with these kids and several of them still call me today and ask for advice and they’re adults now.”

As a mentor, Lutz didn’t do the talking with these students, he let them do the talking to get a feel for the challenges that they were facing. The CIS program involves working with at-risk children to help keep them in school.

“You should have heard some of the stories,” he said. “A lot of them had bad home lives. All I chose to do was to be a friend. If they asked my advice, I offered it, but I wasn’t there to tell them what to do to be successful. It was rewarding. I think I learned more from those students than what they got out of me. It made me realize how fortunate I’ve been in my life.”

Lutz said that as he’s gotten older, he’s realized what’s important in life and it isn’t so much money, publicity, or accolades.

“What’s important is your family and your relationship to them,” he said. “When I first started with my business, I thought success was how much money you had in the bank. I found it’s not that at all. It’s good to have a good financial base. As my kids grew up, I wasn’t there a lot. I missed some of the good things that they did because I was working. I thought that was the main thing – that I should be working and making money. I’ve since learned that I have a great family and I love them a lot. I’ve got seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren now. It’s almost hard to tell my players without a program. Family is my main thing now and going the extra mile to help people.”

Lutz’s dad used to tell him that it’s not the getting, but the giving. He said he didn’t understand that when he was young but does now.

The Lincoln County Man of the Year award is awarded to an outstanding man, who resides in Lincoln County and has contributed to the community by outstanding service, leadership, personal example, character and dedication.

This individual by his unselfish efforts is being recognized for his accomplishments and contributions in such areas as civic and community involvement, church, family, business, or profession.

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