Ted Goins Receives Honorary Doctorate from LRU

Ted Goins and family, including his wife, Cheryl, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Goins, Sr., after receiving his honorary doctorate degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University on Dec. 13, 2018. 

By Susan Shinn Turner

On Dec. 13, 2018, Ted Goins received an honorary doctorate degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Ted Goins is one of those people who seems to be everywhere — whether it’s at the Men’s Bible Study on Thursday morning at Trinity Oaks, at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the same location on the same morning , visiting one of Trinity Oaks’ sister locations, or driving to Raleigh to advocate for immigrants and refugees.

There’s a good reason for all of this. For the past 18 years, Goins has been executive director of Lutheran Services Carolinas, an agency that represents the 2011 merger of Lutheran Services Carolinas and Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas.

Goins likes to say this agency cares for people from cradle to grave — providing services related to adoptions, foster care, developmental disabilities, mental health, refugees and immigration. Local folks might see him frequently at Trinity Oaks Retirement Community. In addition to overseeing this facility, Goins’ parents, Ted Sr. and Frances, have been residents there for the past 3½ years. The two just celebrated their 66th anniversary, although Frances recently moved to the Virginia Casey Center as her dementia continues to progress.

“As the hair club president used to say, ‘I’m not just an employee, I’m a customer,’” Ted says, laughing. (He has great hair, by the way.) “They are just doing a wonderful job with her and all of the folks in the Casey Center. I’ve been nothing but pleased.”

Goins admits that he did not encourage his parents to come to Trinity Oaks. “But I’m thrilled things have gone so well for them here. They have been the most humble people. They don’t want any special treatment.”

Goins says it is a blessing that he lives so close to his parents now — as close as he’s ever lived as an adult. If he’s in town, he pops in to visit.

Goins’ association with LSC, as a CAN, began in 1981, when he took his training under Isaac Kuhn, whom he calls “Mr. Lutheran Home.” Goins still keeps his certified nursing assistance license current, he says, “because I don’t want to lose touch.” He works an eight-hour shift once a year at one of the LSC facilities.

The person who probably knows him best professionally is his executive assistant, Karen Maddry. The two have worked together on and off for 35 years, she says, and he became her boss in 2000.

“Ted is a visionary,” she says. “He is all about moving this agency forward. He sees possibilities instead of obstacles. He’s collaborative, and he is always on the go.”

Although Maddry helps manage Goins’ calendar — actually several other team members help, too — he determines what he wants to do. Which is pretty much everything, she says. “Somehow, he manages to spread himself around where he needs to be.”

Goins says that his mantra is “work hard, play hard.”

At this very moment, he and Cheryl, his wife of 28 years, are in San Antonio, Texas, visiting their grandchildren, Addie and Landon Troup, the children of daughter Sara Rowe Troup and her husband, Devin.

“He’s wonderful,” Cheryl says of her husband, “and no matter how busy he gets, his family comes first.”

Here’s the perfect example.

The couple’s other daughter, Meggie Rowe Lail, married her husband, Jimmy, in May 2018.

The month before, Dr. Fred Whitt, the president of Lenoir-Rhyne University — the alma mater of Ted and most of his family — had called to tell him that the university’s board of directors had voted to confer an honorary degree for Goins at the May graduation.

Ted Goins with Pastor Rhodes Woolly, a member of the Lenoir-Rhyne board of Trustees

“I looked at my calendar and I was sick,” Goins says. “It was the afternoon and evening of Meggie’s wedding rehearsal. I had to tell the president I was not available. But he was very gracious and understood. He invited me to winter graduation.”

Which was nice, although Goins had to keep that information to himself for the rest of the year.

“One of the things that made it so special is that we all went to Lenoir-Rhyne,” he says. “I was the 17th member of my family to go to L-R.”

And his mother was the homecoming queen during her tenure there.

“We were determined to have her there whether she knew it or not,” Goins says. And she was, along with a number of other close family members, including his dad, his brother, John Goins of Hendersonville, and his sister, Mary Goins Clemmer of Cherryville.

Goins says he at first thought the president’s call was for his dad.

“I don’t feel deserving,” he says. “And in a way, it is Dad’s award. I would not have received it if not for him. And it’s the achievement of the work of Lutheran Services Carolinas and the impact we are making across both states.”

With a $143 million annual budget, LSC includes 2,200 employees, 10 senior services operations, and three main child and family services offices, which include immigration and refugee services. The vast majority of these are direct care workers, many of whom are themselves immigrants — which is why Goins finds himself in Raleigh so often these days.

“We’ve been working with immigration since 1979,” he says, “and we’ve resettled 12,000 people. We’ve done that work most of these years without anyone paying attention. In this hyper-political environment, that has become a huge issue.”

Goins has had his share of hate mail — and was even the target of a leaflet campaign by the Ku Klux Klan.

“I take that as a badge of honor,” he says of the detractors. “That means we’re doing something right.”