W. Louis Bissette Jr., attorney with McGuire, Wood & Bissette, PA in Asheville, NC, is the latest recipient of the Dr. I. Beverly Lake Public Service Award. The award was presented on Saturday, June 21, at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association.
The Dr. I. Beverly Lake Public Service Award was established in 2004 in conjunction with the I. Beverly Lake Sr. Justice Fund to recognize an outstanding lawyer in North Carolina who has performed exemplary public service in his or her community. The voluntary service of this attorney may have occurred with a nonprofit organization or with a number of groups in the community as well as through elective or appointive office. Each year nominations are sought from throughout the legal community including judicial district and voluntary bars.
Mike Wells, chair of the NCBA Past Presidents’ Council that selected Bissette, made the presentation. Bissette previously received the Centennial Award and the Citizen Lawyer Award from the NCBA.
“Lou Bissette is one of our state’s finest examples of what it means to be a citizen lawyer,” Wells said. “Long considered one of our state’s finest lawyers, he is equally viewed as one of North Carolina’s finest civic leaders in a broad array of significant community and state leadership roles.”
Bissette, who has practiced law with McGuire Wood & Bissette since 1976, has provided extraordinary public service throughout his career. He is a former mayor of the City of Asheville and past president of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves as Vice Chair on the system-wide University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
“I would like to be able to tell you that my experience and involvement with community service over the years has been very difficult and required great personal sacrifice,” Bissette said in accepting the award, “however, in reality, it has been an incredible experience for me and for my family. How great is it to serve your community as its mayor and have the opportunity to know its people and institutions like few others can?
“How great is it to be involved in the delivery of opportunity through higher education to students in North Carolina through service to unique institutions like Wake Forest University, Western Carolina University and the UNC system?”, Bissette continues. “How great is it to be involved with economic development in your community through service to the chamber of commerce and other entities that work to bring jobs and create opportunities for your neighbors and their families?
“These opportunities and the many other associations that I have been able to enjoy over the years have enabled me to be a part of the fabric of my community and my state and can only be described as ‘priceless.’ “