Joan Lamson’s contributions to Carteret County and the Town of Pine Knoll Shores are way too plentiful to pack into a tribute limited to just 600 words. So, here’s a sequel that attempts to connect more dots in her incredible life story.
Joan Lamson died May 10. She was 83.
Kathy Werle told readers of The Shoreline community newspaper how one final “left turn” brought Wade and Joan Lamson to Bogue Banks from Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1982, after vacationing in Ocracoke, the couple planned to attend a business conference in Charlotte. Werle said the Lamsons hoped to drive along the ocean on their way west from Ocracoke.
“With all the inlets cutting through our shoreline, ours is not a coastline that can easily be hugged. As they wove their way in, out, over and around the many inlets, bridges and ferries, whenever they could, they would turn left and return to the ocean,” she wrote.
They were getting nowhere fast. Arriving in Morehead City, Wade Lamson promised they would make just one more “left turn” to cross the old bridge into Atlantic Beach. Then, they would turn right on the island called Bogue Banks.
As they drove along, the beach town landscape changed into “a lush maritime forest.”
“The beauty of Pine Knoll Shores engulfed them,” Werle said. “Within 30 days, they bought their first piece of paradise, a lot on which they built their home 10 years later.”
The Lamsons officially relocated to Pine Knoll Shores in 1994 and promptly got involved in their new community. Wade became a member of the town’s all-volunteer emergency rescue squad and was later elected a town commissioner. He resigned in 2000 and died later that year.
Allan Rathbone, a grandson, one of the speakers at Joan Lamson’s memorial service on May 26, confessed that “when Grandpa died, I worried. What would Grandma do without him? Run for mayor, as it turns out.”
I’ll never forget how my eyes widened the first time I saw a life-size cutout of her. Even as a child, I was so proud, I asked her if I could keep it. Of course, I couldn’t. She still needed it for her next campaign,” Allan said.
Joan Lamson became the town’s first elected mayor and served from 2003-09.
Allan said: “Grandma Joan could affect a room in a way that I’ve never seen of anyone else – with earnest, attentive listening and with kind, insightful replies. She could be quiet and soft spoken, but when she entered a room, the whole room would change. She was invincible. She was my loving, smart, playful grandmother.”
His last visit with his grandmother exceeded expectations. “I came to say goodbye,” Allen said. “But Grandma, she was still herself. Still joking, still planning. She talked about joining a small business committee. She was herself to the end.”
Brian Kramer, the Pine Knoll Shores town manager, said Mayor Lamson was one smart cookie, a successful owner of a manufacturing firm who held an MBA degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Kramer said Joan Lamson observed that “problems” tend to arise when community groups, committees and governing boards are made up entirely of men.
Her message has inspired women across Carteret County and beyond to step up, stand up, speak up and speak out.
“Her positive spirit will continue to ripple deeply through the lives of many generations yet to come,” remarked stepson George Rathbone. That’s the aura of invincibility.