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Dr. Covington Named College Foundation's Citizen of the Year

Jan 2

Jan. 2, 2024 - Richmond Community College’s Foundation has named Dr. Al Covington as its Distinguished Citizen of the Year for 2024 and will honor him at the Gala on Feb. 17.Dr. Al Covington professional headshot

Covington, an optometrist with Carolina Eye Associates, served on RichmondCC’s Board of Trustees for 13 years. In April 2023, he was granted Trustee Emeritus status. He has been serving on the Richmond Community College Foundation Board for 35 years and is a Cole Foundation board member.

“I am honored beyond words to receive this award. It brings great joy to me to be a part of the college and supporting the college,” Covington said. “Giving to the College Foundation is the best way we can help Richmond County because RichmondCC is providing education for people at a very low cost, it is creating careers for many people and it is supporting job growth.”

Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, said Covington has been a true asset to RichmondCC.

“He has provided tremendous support as both a Board of Trustee and a Foundation board member,” McInnis. “While he would never admit it, Dr. Al Covington is very deserving of this award not only for what he does for RichmondCC, but what he does for his community, his family and his friends.”

A member of the Rockingham Rotary Club for 44 years, Covington has served as president of the club and has been named Rotarian of the Year. He is also a Paul Harris Fellow.

Covington grew up in Sanford with five brothers and one sister. He graduated from Sanford Central High School in 1969 and went to Elon University on a football scholarship. He started his last years three as a defensive end.

Covington graduated from Elon in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and enrolled in the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. He graduated in 1978 with his Doctor of Optometry degree and is licensed to practice in both North and South Carolina.

He started Covington Optometric Eye Clinic 46 years ago, and his brother, Dr. Don Covington, joined him as a partner four years later. Within two years, they opened a branch in Wadesboro.

Fourteen years ago, Covington purchased a practice in Cheraw, S.C., and travels to that eye clinic three nights a week and on Fridays.

Covington and his brother sold their Rockingham and Wadesboro practice seven years ago to Carolina Eye Associates.

“We enjoy working with them and not having the headache of running a business. We have been very happy they chose to come to Rockingham and bring cataract surgery to our local FirstHealth hospital,” Covington said.

Covington and his hometown sweetheart, Pat Buchanan, have been married 51 years. They have three daughters, Jennifer Murray, Jessica Covington and Christie Chavis, and nine grandchildren, all living in Richmond County.

Covington is a member of Three Rock Church, where he serves as an elder.

In his spare time, Covington enjoys golfing, fishing and spending time with family and friends, including his former high school football buddies from Sandford Central High School.

The Gala

Covington will be the guest of honor at RichmondCC’s Gala on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Cole Auditorium. There will be music, dancing and heavy hors’ d’oeuvres. Tickets are $75 per person or $125 per couple.

The Gala is a fundraiser that supports RichmondCC scholarships and programs. Sponsorships are available for the Gala. For more information, contact Dr. Hal Shuler, Associate Vice President of Development, at (910) 410-1807 or