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Koonce awarded Tabor Medal at delayed Chamber fete

Sterling Koonce, Tabor City’s Citizen of the year, with Greater Tabor City Chamber of Commerce President Marylou Molina. (Deuce Niven, TLT)


     Sterling Koonce expressed real surprise minutes after The Tabor Medal was placed around his neck as the 2021 Diamond Anniversary banquet of the Greater Tabor City Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

     “When Marylou was reading the presentation, she said the winner moved to Chadbourn when he was 7,” Koonce said. “I moved to Chadbourn when I was 7. How many of us can there be?”

     Koonce, owner of Medicine Mart Health Care, wasn’t the only honoree of the evening. Curtis “Tiger” Lovette received the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year award, and Judy Powell was recognized for a Service Award, but was not present to receive it.

Citizen of the Year

     Koonce “is the first to asak what he can do,” Chamber President Marylou Molina said in presenting the award.

     Born in Tabor City, that’s where Koonce spent his earliest year, before family circumstances prompted a move to Chadbourn, graduating from West Columbus High School, earning his pharmacy degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

     Koonce returned to Columbus County, and with wife Caroline, also a pharmacist, opened Medicine Mart in Tabor City in 1991. Today their business enterprises include Medicine Mart in Chadbourn, the former family owned Koonce Drug Store, as well as Medicine Mart Health Care which has pioneered “time of dose” packaging of medications, largely serving nursing homes and extended care facilities.

Volunteer of the year Curtis “Tiger” Lovette with Chamber President Marylou Molina. (Deuce Niven, TLT)


     Lovette is known and beloved as “Tiger Tater,” a mascot of the North Carolina Yam Festival at Tabor City, and is a volunteer who does not wait to be asked, Molina said.

     “He shows up and wants to know what he can do,” Molina said.

     Retired from the United States Marine Corp, Lovette served from 1980 to 1999. His devotion to service remains, though his uniform these days spells Y-A-M-S.

     Look for more on this story in this today’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.