Meet Our 2019 Pecan Festival Parade Marshals
Les and Becky High
The Pecan Harvest Festival committee has named Les and Becky High Marshals for the 2019 parade. Both have long histories of community building and continue to lead or be involved in civic organizations.
"This is a real honor for us,” Becky said. "Whiteville has given us so much. It’s a loving, caring community and a great place to raise your children.”
"I remember the first Harvest Day’s Festival well,” Les said. "Ginger Littrell, who was the real force behind it, and I both wondered if it would be a bust. But it was a glorious November day, and the police estimated a crowd of more than 10,000. It’s been something to really look forward to every fall for more than 25 years.”
Les grew up in Whiteville, graduated from Whiteville High School in 1980 and UNC-Chapel Hill in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He has spent his career in the family business, The News Reporter, starting as a photographer, then reporter, editor, and now publisher.
Becky grew up in Kinston, graduating from Kinston High School in 1980 and UNC-Chapel Hill with a BS in business administration in 1984.
Though they didn’t know each other at UNC, they met when Becky came to Whiteville with United Carolina Bank as part of its training program for new bankers. After training, she worked for UCB in Charlotte, greater Wilmington, and Whiteville.
She and Les married in 1991. She was a UCB commercial loan officer in Whiteville until the couple had their first child, Carly, in 1995, then Margaret in 1997.
Becky became immersed in civic work from the start in Whiteville, first by initiating projects to help downtown Whiteville, such as banner and tree-planting projects.
She spent much of her time volunteering at every city public school and most recently was an assistant for the WHS women’s tennis team. She also coached youth soccer.
She currently works at The News Reporter in business development and special projects. She is president of the Columbus County Community Foundation board, a local affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation, which awards grants to good work projects of local non-profits and most recently, for hurricane relief. She chairs the Whiteville United Methodist Church preschool committee and is president of the Carolyn T. High Garden Club. She was a Girl Scout leader for Troop 919, a past president and past Debutante committee chair of Columbus Cotillion and past president of the Columbus County UNC alumni chapter.
Les is currently chairman of the Columbus Jobs Foundation. He sits on the board of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association foundation. He is a lifelong member of Whiteville United Methodist Church and former chairman of the board of trustees and other committees. He remains active with the Whiteville Rescue Unit, where he has been a volunteer for 38 years. He is a former chief of the department and captain of the heavy rescue team. He has been actively involved in coaching girls soccer and creating more soccer opportunities for female athletes. He is a former assistant coach for the Whiteville High School and Central Middle School girls soccer teams, local girls soccer travel teams and recreation league soccer. He chaired the committee to restore Vineland Station and remains on the board. He was the founding chairman of the Whiteville Downtown Development Commission. He was also founding chairman of the Friends of Whiteville High School and chaired the high school’s centennial celebration in 2010.
He is a past president of the Greater Whiteville Chamber of Commerce and current member of the executive committee of Cape Fear Council of Boy Scouts and a Silver Beaver recipient.
He is a past chairman of the Peal-Sigmon Ducks Unlimited chapter, past president, North Carolina Association of Community Newspapers, and past president of the North Carolina Press Association. He is a current board member of the North Carolina Press Association Foundation, and former member of the UNC School of Journalism Foundation board of trustees.
Becky and Les are actively involved in state and national efforts to save community journalism, working with the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC and the Knight-Lenfest Foundation to foster innovation in community newspapers.
They enjoy the outdoors and vacations with their children that involve hiking and water adventures, and time at Wrightsville Beach and UNC-Chapel Hill athletic events.
Carly, 24, works in marketing at Oracle, a cloud computing and software company, in Austin while Margaret, 22, works in Chapel Hill with Public Impact, a national educational consulting company.