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Tommy Hays Named to Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Tommy Hays

We couldn’t be happier for NCWN Trustee Tommy Hays, who has been named to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the governor of North Carolina.

Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments. Once so honored, recipients become North Carolina “Ambassadors” and enjoy the benefits of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.

Novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Tommy Hays is the former executive director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and retired lecturer in UNC Asheville’s Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program. His middle grade novel What I Came to Tell You was an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). Hays’s novel The Pleasure Was Mine was a finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  A Trustee of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Elizabeth Lutyens, editor-in-chief of the Great Smokies Review, had this to say:

“Tommy Hays’ mastery of craft permeates every page of his novels, stories, and essays. His students and fellow writers benefit from that consummate skill, but perhaps even more from what lies between the lines. Tommy’s greatest praise for a piece is to say that it is ‘so felt.’ You hear the italics. As executive director, Tommy led, taught in, and nourished UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program from its inception in 2000 until his retirement in 2020. During that time, he inspired the program’s students and teachers to put craft into the proper perspective; to aim for the real, for the heart of things.”

Distinguished recipients of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine honor include NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Maya Angelou; Coretta Scott King; and many other leaders in business, education, public service, arts, entertainment and sports.

For more about Tommy Hays, visit his website.

For more about the Order of the Longleaf Pine, click here.