A friend of a friend-Cindy Kern-Merle Summers-May 14

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 May 14, 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 live in a pretty neat neighborhood in Lumberton, NC when it comes to the quality of people. Our neighborhood is referred to as Tanglewood where streets cross in precise 90 degree angles. The streets running east and west are numbered and the north/south street carry a name; a lot of them after trees. Over on Walnut Street a few blocks from my home on Elm Street lives a good friend named Merle Summers. He is great ambassador for a lot of great causes including children, education, jobs, and our local chamber of commerce. I often get to see Merle on a morning walk when I am up going for a morning jog.

Merle Summer attended high school in Raleigh, NC and graduated in 1958 from Needham Broughton High School. After high school he enrolled at my alma mater East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) and earned a business education degree from ECU. Merle while he was in college joined the Kappa Alpha fraternity and still has lifelong friends today from that organization. One of those friends is another individual from Lumberton, NC named Jim Kirkland.

Photo below (l-r) Ann Summers, the late Evelyn Kirkland, Jim Kirkland, and Merle Summers attending a KA Event at East Carolina University

Merle and Jim

On December 18, 1965 Merle married his wife Ann and in December this year they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. As a couple they are very engaged in our community. Merle is very active in a local civic organization called Kiwanis Club of Robeson/Lumberton. If the club is having a fundraiser or doing something to support children you can count on Merle being there. His energy level for wanting to perform service is commendable and our community is blessed to have someone with the caring heart that Merle has.

In 2011 Merle officially retired from the Public Schools of Robeson County where he worked as Career and Technical Education Administrator. He still keeps active working part-time at the local community college and serving as the chair of the Leadership Lumberton program that is run by the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce. People that have completed the Leadership Lumberton program know that Merle is very interested in getting Chamber members exposed to all of the wonderful things our community has to offer.

When Merle gets to serve with the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce he gets to hang out with a great leader and friend; Cindy Kern, the Executive Director.



The Friend of the Friend-CINDY KERN


Lumberton’s Business Cheerleader

Every November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving I get a treat. The Lumberton (NC) Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade comes rolling past my house on Elm Street.

paradeparade II

For the last 17 years the leader who makes that parade become a reality is Cindy Kern the Executive Director of organization.

This parade features more than 100 entries and draw thousands of spectators a couple of hundred usually gather in our front yard and our neighbors Ron and Colleen Brown. The parade features beauty queens, dignitaries, baton-twirlers, church choirs, dancers, and lots of tractors. If you want to find the best in our community the day of the parade is a pretty good place to start. Cindy gets help but it takes a lot of work and I hope she knows how much a lot of people appreciate the day of the parade in Lumberton.

Cindy is just more than a parade organizer there is also the business of business in our community and she is a fantastic cheerleader for Lumberton area businesses. Since her arrival as executive director a lot has changed in 17 years. Lumberton has seen tremendous growth on the I-95 Corridor especially along Exit 22. Lumberton has been designated as North Carolina’s first certified retirement community receiving that designation in 2010.


I had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors for the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce a while back and really got to enjoy Cindy’s infectious enthusiasm for life and Lumberton. If a business joins the chamber they are going to receive direct and indirect benefits. Membership rewards include business referrals,  web page listings,  ribbon cuttings/ground breakings,  community profile, city and county maps, monthly newsletter,  demographic information,  membership directory,  organizational listings,  relocation packages,  industry list,  business after hours mixers,  committee and task forces,  seminars,  local events and so much more!


Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce membership also comes with Cindy Kern. Every business, team, and community needs a cheerleader. Lumberton NC has one in Cindy Kern.

Every friend needs someone with a serving heart and I know just the person -Merle Summers.



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