Can you imagine living in a home without electricity? Born in 1919, Evert Frank Locklear remembers a time when people did not turn on the lights by flipping a switch. He observed his 102nd birthday on March 24, 2021, making him one of the oldest Member-Owners of Lumbee River EMC.
Locklear was 21 when Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation was organized in 1940. It was seven years later when he moved into a house that had lights for the first time. His youth and much of his life as a young man were experienced without the luxury of electricity in the home. "Today, people are rich and don't even know it," he said. "People have barns nicer than the houses we grew up in." Nevertheless, his humble upbringing taught him to appreciate the small things in life.
"When it got dark outside, it got really dark," Locklear said. "We had to carry lanterns just to see the ground in front of us." Using lamps and heating homes with kerosene heaters was a common occurrence. Locklear is no stranger to hard work. During the summer, he and his siblings worked on the family farm from sun up to sundown. Battling the snow and cold temperatures during the winter was not a small feat either.
Locklear had three brothers and four sisters- everyone had to do their part. Growing up during the Great Depression, his family was not immune to the period's struggles. "Times were very different then," Locklear reflected. "People didn't have much but were willing to share what little they had."
The Navy drafted Locklear after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was discharged from the military in 1945. He, like many soldiers, returned home with new skills and training and was able to find work in a growing economy. Locklear is a proponent of education. "You have to know something to be successful," he said. "Never stop learning."
The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina recently presented Locklear with a warrior's patch, which recognizes Lumbee warriors who have fought in conflicts since World War I.
Locklear resides in Maxton with his wife, Helen. He is the father of ten children and has many grand and great-grandchildren. Locklear, who is a Preacher and former Pastor, considers his longevity a blessing from God. "Nothing in life made sense until I gave God my yes," he said. "God is in control of everything you see out here (pointing to his land), and it is he who has sustained me."