Last updated: March 20. 2014 4:16PM - 637 Views

Sen. Gene McLaurin was on hand to help Preston Burns celebrate his 100th birthday last month.
Sen. Gene McLaurin was on hand to help Preston Burns celebrate his 100th birthday last month.
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WADESBORO — In 1939, FDR was in his second of four terms in the White House, Hitler triggered World War II with his invasion of Poland, and 26-year-old Preston Burns joined the Wadesboro Rotary Club.

On Feb. 27, the Wadesboro club honored Burns for his 74 years as a Rotarian and celebrated his 100th birthday, which fell on Feb. 16.

“Preston's 74 years as a member of this club is astounding in itself,” said Wesley Horne, president of the Wadesboro Rotary Club. “But even more importantly, we celebrated his commitment to Rotary and this community. Nobody epitomizes the Rotary motto 'Service Above Self' like Preston.”

Burns is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and a past president of the Wadesboro club. He was named the club's Distinguished Rotarian in 1994, the second year the award was presented.

He was founder and long-time owner/operator of Wadesboro Auto Supply, and worked diligently for decades as a volunteer with the Anson County Chamber of Commerce. The conference room at the Chamber is named in his honor.

He was also instrumental in economic development in Anson County, assisting with the start-up of such companies as Hornwood, Inc., and Wade Manufacturing Company. A member of the First United Church of Wadesboro, Burns served for nearly 50 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Anson Bank & Trust Company (now Uwharrie Bank), including terms as chairman.

In honor of his then-70 years as a Rotarian, the Anson County Board of Commissioners declared July 22, 2010 as Preston Burns Day in Anson County.

Burns was married for 66 years to Mary Watkins Burns until her death in 2005. They have three children: Allen Burns, Julia B. Schnitker and Katherine B. Griffin.

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