A friend of a friend-Eugene “Gene” Hackney and Jim “K-Land” Kirkland-April 22

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for April 22, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

I have lived in Lumberton, NC longer than any other place. This year marks the 24th year that I call Lumberton home. I have lived in Morristown, NJ, Greenville, NC, Cullowhee, NC, and Rock Hill SC but if I am asked where is home I would say Lumberton. It is the place where my best friends have connections to.

I love the song by John Cougar Mellencamp “Small Town”.


The lyrics really resonate with me especially the two following stanzas because they reflect the way I feel about Lumberton.

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from I cannot forget the people who love me

Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a big town

Still hayseed enough to say Look who’s in the big town

But my bed is in a small town Oh, and that’s good enough for me

One of the things I have experienced in Lumberton is the close personal service that business owners have provided my family over the years. One man in particular is no longer a business owner but still a fixture at my church and in the community. To everyone in my small town he is K-Land but his given name is Jim Kirkland.

Jim Kirkland is a man that if you meet him you are going to hear a story. He is a man that loves to serve others. He is also a man that has great passion for his alma mater East Carolina University which he proudly graduated from in 1962. Jim met Evelyn Johnson while they were students at East Carolina College (now University), and their 50-plus year marriage began shortly after graduation. He also a man that loves the unusual and the photo below pretty much sums up Jim’s sense of humor.

The photo was taken in Pennsylvania in 2011 with his wife Evelyn. A picture is worth a thousand words.


In 2013 Evelyn passed away and she was an amazing lady that our churrch, community, and small town miss.

Evelyn earned an undergraduate and graduate degrees in education at East Carolina. Jim, whose father was dean of the School of Education at NC State University, earned a business degree at ECU.

Jim’s wife taught school in Greenville, Fayetteville and Lumberton, education was more than an occupation for Evelyn Kirkland it was a passion for her. She served on the Dean’s Professional Advisory Board of ECU’s College of Education. She was elected to ECU’s College of Education Educator’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes outstanding educators.

Photo of Jim standing in front of Hall of Fame at ECU (l-r) Jim Kirkland-Merle Summers-Tom Mallison all KA brothers of Jim’s at ECU.

ECU Hall of Fame

Jim is called K-Land because he is the retired owner of K-Land Tire and Automotive located on the corner of Elm and Elizabethtown Rd in Lumberton. At that business Jim would always provide customers fair prices with amazing customer service. That customer service always included a joke or story. For a lot people in this country going to the automotive mechanic is equated to you are about to get ripped off-not in my small town and not at K-Land. Jim understood the golden rule which he still practices today.

Jim also has a friend that owned a drug store business named Eugene Hackney.


Jim Kirklnad

The Friend of the Friend – GENE HACKNEY

Gene Hackney

Our big time small town pharamacist

In 1985 my wife and I settled into a house on West 22nd Street in Lumberton, NC our new small town. We had two children with a third on the way. If you are a parent with small children you know that they are going to get sick. I only wish I knew back then that a smart business decision for our family would to be to go ahead and purchase amoxicillin in a fifty-five gallon drum. Our kids especially our son Matthew had more than their share of ear infections and we went to the drug store a lot.

All this led us to become customers of North Elm Pharmacy which was located on Elm Street between 24th and 25th St. One of the reasons we shopped there was the customer service we received from Gene Hackney. The other pharmacist John Rancke was outstanding also.

Gene knew our family. Gene would come in after normal business hours if one of the Kenney kids got ill he just cared about the customers he served. Gene epitomized a caring personal approach to his customers. He also liked to talk basketball which resonated with me being a basketball coach.

He and his wife we married on June 8th the same date as my wedding anniversary. The Hackney’s were married in 1957 and my wife and I in 1980. Below is a picture of Gene and his bride Sara on their wedding day.

Wedding Anniversary

As John Cougar Mellencamp says “Got nothing against the big town….But my bed is in a small town and that’s good enough for me.

Thanks Gene and K-Land for making my small town big time special.


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