Kenneth McGinnis has created one more tribute to Max Burgin. The two friends who sat together in Cool Springs classrooms 70 years ago have continued to bond over storytelling and tributes to Rev. Burgin's stellar career in ministry.
McGinnis was chief cook and bottle washer on the May 18 Max Burgin Day and corralled Congressman Patrick McHenry into presenting Burgin a flag that flew over the capitol.
The cherry landed on top October 15 when McGinnis presented Burgin's wife, Mickey, with an autographed photo of the president and a letter of commendation. Burgin was too ill to attend the courthouse lawn ceremony.
"This is really all about Ken," Burgin said of the roughly year-long effort made by the owner/operator of Ellenboro's Carpet Barn and veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
The two lifelong friends meet for coffee and conversation about once a week at the Carpet Barn; and McGinnis got a head of steam about a year ago to honor Burgin with N.C.'s Order Of The Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor for any of the state's residents.
Isothermal President Walter Dalton picked up that baton and nominated Burgin for the honor. It was presented at the May 18th event at Forest City's Wesleyan Church, the meeting house were Burgin worshipped as a child. Along with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, that day Burgin received the key to the town of Forest City from Commissioner Shawn Moore, a resolution of commendation from County Commissioner Eddie Holland on behalf of the county board, and letters hailing his years of service from both McHenry and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis.
Sheriff Chris Francis made the Long Leaf Pine presentation.
Francis and other public officials were on hand on Oct. 15 when Burgin's wife, Mickey, accepted the photo and letter of commendation for her husband, who was too ill to attend. The letter referred to sacrifices made by the Burgin family.
Mickey said, "It was no sacrifice. Max loved every minute of it; and I did, too. Thanks to all of you for this today."
McGinnis made it all happen.
McGinnis's great grandsons, the Piney Mountain Boys, have also played traditional bluegrass gospel for Burgin on more than one occasion inspired by their promoting patron, Ken McGinnis.
Burgin won many honors during his more than 30 years as a U.S. Army chaplain and Baptist pastor, including twice being awarded the Legion of Merit. He was also named Chaplain Of The Year on one occasion. After growing up Wesleyan, he became Southern Baptist and has earned the Heritage Award from the NC Baptist Convention and Alum of the Year from Mars Hill University, where he also serves as a trustee.
But his year of picking up new honors and accolades is due to Ken McGinnis.
"I just love the Lord and want people to know God is not mad at them. I want it all to be about Jesus and not about me. But all these (honors and celebrations,) that's all Ken," Burgin said recently.
It may just be a perfect intersection of friendship, humility, and lives well lived by both men.