Retired Wallace Mayor Charley Farrior

Retired Wallace Mayor Charley Farrior thanks the crowd after a ceremony honoring him at the Wallace Depot Saturday. Local artist Hope Smith stands behind her painting of newly named Farrior Park at Boney Mill.

WALLACE — On a day the town had proclaimed to be especially for him, retired Wallace Mayor Charley Farrior was the man of the hour at a reception following the town’s Christmas parade on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Farrior sat with his wife Harriet as several speakers told a large assembled crowd how much his leadership had meant to them personally and to the town that he has served since he first entered public service in 1986.

The ceremony was organized by the Wallace Chamber of Commerce, and board member Ken Floyd expressed his appreciation for Farrior’s leadership.

“From the 1995 revitalization of downtown Wallace, the resurgence of the Carolina Strawberry Festival, to the Boney Mill Park Project, Mr. Charley, we appreciate all that you have done for the town of Wallace,” Floyd said.

As a gift from the Chamber of Commerce, Floyd presented Farrior with the gavel that he has used for 26 years in a shadowboxed display created and donated by Art of Hope.

“I’ve beaten that thing a lot,” Farrior quipped.

Police chief Jimmy Crayton spoke of working side by side with Farrior over the years, and he highlighted a time in the days following Hurricane Florence in 2018 when he got to see Farrior in action.

“I’ll tell y’all, I’ve never seen somebody fight for a town like that man did,” Crayton said.

The town had been without power for several days, and Farrior made it his mission to get the lights turned back on. On a car ride to a supply distribution center, Crayton said Farrior was on the phone with an official from Duke Energy. The power company official told Farrior that the town couldn’t get electrical service back for another eight days. Farrior said that was unacceptable and made another phone call.

“I don’t know what was said in that second phone call and who it was to, but I do know this. I was riding down Raleigh Street, heading south, that same day at 6 o’clock, and the street lights came on,” Crayton said. “To this day, I don’t know what was said in that car . . . but I know the man from Duke said Wallace wouldn’t get power for eight days, and the power was on eight hours later.”

“He didn’t take no for an answer.”

Wallace Fire Chief Chuck Farrior, who is the mayor’s son, spoke about his dad from his family’s perspective. He spoke of his character and integrity, long hours working on town business and his even-handed manner of leadership.

“Let there be no question, only God and family come before this town in this man’s life. Not even his own business ranks above,” the younger Farrior said.

Finally, new mayor Jason Wells presented Farrior with the biggest honor of all. Wells said he and the rest of the town council had mulled over the best way to pay tribute to Farrior’s work over the years. Many ideas seemed to fall short except for one regarding the ongoing Boney Mill Pond park project.

“This man along with the rest of the board had a dream,” Wells said. “It was his dream that one day the Boney Mill Park would be the heartbeat of this town for its citizens to enjoy.”

So the council made a decision.

“It will no longer be known just as the Boney Mill Pond,” Wells said. “From this day on, that park will be known as Farrior Park at Boney Mill.”

Wells presented an original painting by local artist Hope Smith which depicts the millhouse at Boney Mill Pond, with a sign emblazoned with Farrior Park at Boney Mill.

Farrior was humbled by the presentation.

“Thank you for the honor. Thank you for the Farrior Park at Boney Mill. That’s just beyond words for me,” Farrior said. “I’ve got to tell you that this past week, with all of the honors and the accolades that I’ve had, it’s truly much more than my heart would bear. It means so much to be recognized and loved by so many folks. I just thank you all.”

He reiterated his feeling that bright days are ahead for Wallace.

“I know that Jason is going to do a wonderful job as our new mayor,” Farrior said. “He’s got a great council and a great staff, and Wallace is going to be an even better place to live than it is today.”

He also thanked his family and friends for their support, making sure to shine a spotlight on his wife’s support.

“Harriet has been my right arm, my left arm and probably both legs throughout this whole process,” he said. “She has made my dark days not quite as dark as they would have been, and she’s made my days of celebration even better because they were with her.”