John Baker Sr. and John Baker Jr.
When it comes to law enforcement in the Raleigh area, the name "John Baker" stands head and shoulders above all others. Together, father and son have served the Raleigh community for more than 60 years.
Raleigh native John Baker Sr. attended Raleigh City Schools and North Carolina A&T State University. In 1942, he was hired as the city’s first African-American police officer during a time that made him susceptible to racial injustices. Yet, his winning spirit helped bridge the racial gap that divided most people. His determined efforts, common sense and personal sacrifice made a big difference and helped the city handle, as peacefully as it did, the integration demonstrations of the late 1950s and 1960s. Serving for more than 40 years, his work included security at North Carolina State University sporting events and Sergeant-of-Arms of the Raleigh City Council.
As a man who loved sports, Baker Sr. enjoyed working with children, coaching them in little league activities at Washington High School, St. Augustine’s College, Chavis Heights Park, and with the City of Raleigh’s Parks and Recreation Department. Two years after his death in 1985, the City of Raleigh and the Raleigh Police Department dedicated the John H. Baker Police Training Center in his honor. The elder Baker was proudest of two things: his son John Jr. and the police uniform he wore.
Born in Raleigh in 1935, John Baker Jr. was an outstanding athlete at Ligon High School and North Carolina Central University. He played professional football for 11 years. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and played in Pittsburgh and Detroit, twice earning All-Pro honors. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1972. During the off-seasons, Baker Jr. served as a member of the North Carolina Parole Commission and was a human relations aide for the North Carolina Good Neighbor Council. He also worked with the Raleigh Police Department as a youth counselor and with the North Carolina Department of Correction, touring the state’s facilities speaking to young inmates.
After his football career, Baker Jr. returned to Raleigh and entered politics becoming the first African-American appointed to the North Carolina State Parole Board. Eight years later, in 1978, he became Wake County Sheriff, the first African-American since Reconstruction to hold this office. During his 24-year tenure, Wake County gained accreditation and national recognition for professionalism and was a leader in upgrading technology. Baker Jr. was an integral part of the initiative to build the Wake County Public Safety Center and he instituted an education program that allowed incarcerated youth to continue their education through the John H. Baker Jr. Charter School.
John H. Baker Sr. and John H. Baker Jr. have given many years helping young people gain a respect for law and authority, and serving their community with professionalism, efficiency and dedication.
Dr. Frederick Burroughs
For nearly 40 years, Dr. Frederick D. Burroughs has selflessly delivered medical care and counseling to the children of Raleigh. The third of five children, Burroughs was born in New Jersey in 1930. Presented with many challenges, it was relatively late in life that he realized his childhood dream of becoming a doctor, as he was nearly 40 when he began to practice medicine.
Burroughs earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army ROTC. He began active duty after graduation, completing tours of duty in both the United States and Germany. Burroughs entered Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and received the Doctor of Medicine Degree in 1966.
Three years later, with great personal financial risk, he moved his young family to Raleigh and opened an office in a southeast Raleigh neighborhood, becoming the first African-American physician in the city to devote his practice completely to the specialty of pediatrics. Many of his young patients had little or no insurance. He quickly gained acceptance among his colleagues, not by demanding recognition, but by earning their respect through his hard work, dedication and medical expertise.
In 1977, Dr. Burroughs became a founding partner of Sunnybrook Multi-Specialty Medical Center located next to Wake Memorial Hospital, providing a place where patients could receive care in a variety of specialties. He remained in private practice until January 1996 when he joined Wake Health Services. In July 2003, Dr. Burroughs joined Growing Child Pediatrics in Knightdale where he continues to practice.
Throughout his career, Dr. Burroughs has advised, and taught medical and health professional students and mentored pediatric residents as an adjunct clinical professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He was also the first African-American doctor to serve on the staff of Rex Hospital. In 2003, the North Carolina Pediatric Society honored him with its highest community service award, recognizing his pioneering service as a pediatrician and his role as a mentor and teacher of three generations of medical students and residents.
Dr. Burroughs has also contributed to the community through his church choir and various ministries; Board of Governors Medical Scholarship Selection Committee; Board of Directors-Shelly School; Board of Visitors-St. Augustine’s College; the Wake Health Services Board; the Raleigh Oratorio Society; Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts, and the Health Systems Agency Board.
Dr. Frederick D. Burroughs has made a profound difference in the lives of countless patients and their anxious parents. Through him, Raleigh’s young children have had a better chance to become healthy productive citizens.
Fred Fletcher Sr.
For more than a half-century, Fred Fletcher, Sr. was an active part of Raleigh’s growth. The eldest son of A.J. Fletcher, he was a broadcaster through and through. His flair for humor and his ability to create a variety of voices made him a perfect match for radio.
Born in Apex in 1910, Fletcher grew up in Raleigh and graduated from Hugh Morson High School in 1927. He received his undergraduate degree in community work from George Williams College in Chicago and stayed in the area to work in recreation and sports with a South Chicago YMCA. He returned to Raleigh in 1939 to help his father start WRAL-AM. Fletcher later received a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Fletcher started at the station as an announcer, then became program director and was named general manager in 1942. In 1956 he became the Vice President and General Manager of WRAL-AM-FM-TV and eventually became President of Capitol Broadcasting Company. He retired in 1975.
In the 1940s Fletcher became infamous in the Triangle for his on-air performances. His most lauded effort was a daily radio program “Tempus Fugit.” As the Fairy Tale Man he delighted children and adults alike. Fletcher was a one-man show, making his own sound affects and doing the voices for all characters. Fletcher helped to win the first VHF television license in Raleigh for WRAL and made his own transition to television with the advent of this station. His professional career was marked by a lifetime of firsts. Among them, the first network of shortwave radio operators to collect and disseminate hurricane information under emergency conditions; first North Carolina radio news network; first North Carolina sports broadcasting network; first North Carolina broadcast from Madison Square Garden; and hiring the South’s first African-American morning man. Fletcher served on the Raleigh City Council from 1947 to 1949. For more than 50 years, he served Raleigh and Wake County as a member of various Parks and Recreation commissions. He chaired the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Commission from 1956 to 1985, constantly lobbying for open space and recreation centers. In 1975, the Raleigh City Council granted Fletcher an unprecedented lifetime voting membership on the city Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He continued to be a dedicated advocate for quality leisure programs and was directly involved with youth programs, senior citizen clubs, cultural activities and special events.
In the early 1980s the city acquired and named Fred Fletcher Park in his honor. In 1985, he was the recipient of the Robert M. Artz Award given annually by the National Recreation and Parks Association to recognize the country’s outstanding citizen-board members.
Fred Fletcher Sr. exemplified the spirit of community. His unwavering support and commitment to the benefits of parks and recreation contributed significantly to enriching the lives of citizens of the capital city. Fred Fletcher died on January 8, 2000, at the age of 89.
From his humble beginnings on a Franklin County farm to the development of Crabtree Valley Mall, Falls Village and numerous other Raleigh area landmarks, Seby B. Jones Sr. has left his mark on the central North Carolina landscape and social conscience.
Jones, one of 12 children, left Franklin County at the age of 16 to join his older brother in Selma. Together they started a service station and fruit stand business stocked with surplus produce from the north-south truckers on US 301. By 1933, during the depths of the Great Depression, Jones moved to Raleigh in the hopes of establishing a more long-term career than re-selling produce. He met James A. Davidson, a Scottish immigrant and master carpenter, who took Jones on as a carpenter’s assistant, a position that allowed him to learn the building business from the bottom up.
During World War II, Jones worked on various war-related structures including the airfield that later became the Raleigh-Durham Airport. In 1945, he brought his newly gained construction experience back to the private sector, and along with Davidson formed the Davidson and Jones Construction Company. In the post-war years, the firm built and renovated stores and supermarkets, and over 100 churches. The experience garnered in these projects culminated with the planning and construction of Crabtree Valley Mall, which opened in 1972. Davidson retired in 1965, and Jones became President-Chairman of the construction company.
Jones made a successful run for Raleigh City Council in 1967 and was elected mayor in 1969, serving at a time when the city was just beginning to intensively develop beyond its pre-war boundaries. He helped shepherd the city through the civil rights era and the numerous changes in the city prompted by the influx of newcomers coming to work in Research Triangle Park. Innovations under Jones’ helm included the practice of setting five-year goals for City government and the establishment of the Office of Intergovernmental Coordinator whose mission it was to ensure that all Raleigh citizens have access to local, state and federal agencies and funds to improve their neighborhoods and their lives.
Jones regarded the marked improvement in race relations in Raleigh as one of his most important accomplishments. His efforts led to an increased interest in philanthropy and college scholarships for deserving students. In 1972, Jones was invited to join the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society at St. Augustine’s College, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees. The Seby B. Jones Fine Arts Center is home to art works at college. Jones also served on the Board of Trustees at Meredith College and endowed the Seby Jones Chapel there. Jones took great pleasure in giving back to the community, supporting numerous organizations including the Raleigh Rescue Mission, Lions Club, the Boy Scouts and the Gideon Society. A consummate gentleman, Seby B. Jones Sr. was a builder of post-World War II Raleigh, both in terms of infrastructure and human capital. His hard work, determination and charitable kindness to give education to others provided the means to carry Raleigh and North Carolina into the 21st century. He died in June 2002.
LeRoy Martin Sr
The influence of LeRoy Brown Martin Sr. on this city stretches across the bounds of education, business, religion and politics. Born in Yadkin County in 1900, Martin demonstrated a pioneer spirit throughout his life.
One of nine children, he grew up in a home where a great importance was placed on education. When Martin was 16, his father died, and his older brother left to serve in World War I, leaving Martin the oldest boy at home. He had to drop out of high school and be the man of the farm. After three years of full-time farming, he entered Buies Creek Academy, now Campbell University, to finish his high school studies. Martin worked his way through school as a farmhand in the tobacco fields, and at the age of 20 he entered Wake Forest College in the fall of 1920 to study law. While a student there, he played football and baseball and served as a clerk in the North Carolina Senate. From 1919 to 1935 he was closely identified with the proceedings of the North Carolina Senate, serving as principal clerk for several sessions. He graduated from Wake Forest College in 1926 and passed the state bar examination, though he never practiced law. He returned to the Academy as a teacher and coach.
In 1927, when the North Carolina General Assembly took over all public schools as a state function, Martin was appointed Executive Secretary of the School Commission, a job requiring that he break new ground, since no state had funded schools in this manner. In 1938, he was appointed a member of the Raleigh School Board, and for 22 years he was recognized in Raleigh and throughout the state as a leader in public education. In 1959, a Raleigh junior high school was named for him. He also worked tirelessly for the development of North Carolina State University. He served on the Board of Trustees of Meredith College, Campbell College and Wake Forest College. In 1935, Martin left the State School Commission to become Vice President and Trust Officer in the Raleigh branch of Wachovia Bank and Trust Company. He was widely regarded as one of the outstanding bankers and financial leaders in North Carolina.
Martin served his community as president of the Lions Club; member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Engineering Foundation; president of the Raleigh YMCA and a member of its Board of Directors; a member of the North Carolina State University Development Council and as the chairman of its Special Gifts Committee that originated the “Talent for Service” scholarship program. He was an active member of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. Though he never sought political office or recognition, Martin, an active democrat, served on the State Democratic Executive Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party for several years as well as the Advisory Budget Commission.
Martin was a founder of Raleigh’s Hayes-Barton Baptist Church and served many years as a deacon, Sunday school teacher and trustee. He served as Vice President of the Baptist State Convention and Chairman of the Trustees of Meredith College.
LeRoy B. Martin Sr. died at the relatively young age of 61 having accomplished much for the public good.
A lifelong avid reader, Nancy Olson moved to Raleigh from her native Virginia in 1981. She is perhaps best known as the owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music; however, her contributions to Raleigh go far beyond that of her successful business.
In the 1980s, large chain bookstores were making it difficult for independent bookstores to succeed. Some of the longest-lived and best-known bookstores in North Carolina were faltering and eventually closed. Olson had the determination to face these odds and the persistence to overcome them. Her business insight, dedication to mission and strong civic spirit have resulted in an enterprise that many consider one of Raleigh’s most popular community centers. Under her leadership, Quail Ridge Books & Music has become a place where ideas are shared and values are honed.
Olson has created and nurtured an extensive and unique writer-reader community. Local writers testify that her unwavering support has helped fuel what the national Library Journal called “North Carolina’s Literary Renaissance.” She frequently invites local writers to read at her store drawing crowds of readers. Today, with the store’s excellent national reputation, publishers and writers eagerly request appearances at what has become one of the most notable sites in the country. Readers of every persuasion have a chance to meet their favorite authors and politicians.
Olson started Books for Kids, a non-profit foundation that gives away books to needy children who would otherwise never own one. Through the store’s Christmas "Angel Tree" program, customers have donated thousands of books to children and adults chosen by social services agencies. She also collects used books to distribute to prisons, mental health facilities, low-income day care centers and overseas programs. The store sponsors nearly a dozen reading groups and a book club for elementary school students. Olson helps underwrite Bookwatch on UNC-TV and supports numerous programs that raise money for libraries. She also supports the North Carolina Symphony, the North Carolina Food Bank, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, and Hospice of Wake County.
Olson has generously shared her time and experience on boards such as the North Carolina State Library Board. She also is active in an alliance of area businesses that touts the benefits of buying locally. And as a successful independent bookstore, Quail Ridge Books & Music stands as a beacon of hope that there is still room among the Goliaths of the bookselling world for a friendly locally owned shop that concentrates on community, specialized customer service, and a passion for books and ideas. In recognition of her achievements, Publishers Weekly named her "Bookseller of the Year" in 2001.
Nancy Olson is a cultural treasure. Raleigh and her readers have benefited greatly because she decided to bring her enthusiasm, knowledge and love of books to us.
Dr. George W. Paschal, Jr., and Beth C. Paschal
Dr. George W. Paschal, Jr., and Beth C. Paschal are best known for their work in medicine and visual arts. They met in Philadelphia where George was studying surgery and teaching at Jefferson Medical College. Beth had come to Philadelphia as associate editor for The Farm Journal. They married in 1944 when he was on leave from the Army.
Two years later the couple moved to Raleigh and immediately embraced their new hometown. Dr. Paschal, a widely respected surgeon and native of nearby Wake Forest, established a solo practice that he maintained for more than three decades. Mrs. Paschal, an Iowan by birth, joined the Junior League, which led her to volunteer at the emerging North Carolina Museum of Art.
In the 1960s, both professional medical practice and patient care were still segregated. Dr. Paschal, actively involved in the all-white North Carolina Medical Society, became its President in 1965. In this capacity, he persuaded like-minded colleagues to open membership to every qualified physician. This act had great impact on both doctors and patients and encouraged many young minority students to pursue a career in medicine. In 1989, Paschal was honored by the Old North State Medical Society for his courageous efforts to help the traditionally black organization achieve equality within the medical profession.
At the same time Dr. Paschal was President of the North Carolina Medical Society, his wife was President of the North Carolina Art Society. Elected to the board in 1959, Mrs. Paschal was involved with the museum before it even opened its doors. Her volunteer work took her into city schools, where she showed slides and prepared children for their visit to see the collection. This orientation program was one of many inspired programs she helped initiate. She continues to volunteer at the museum and still serves on the board, now as an emeritus trustee. She has received many accolades from the Art Society and North Carolina Museum of Art, was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women in 1983 and received the Raleigh Medal of Arts in 1986.
Together, the Paschals supported libraries. Dr. Paschal was a contributor to several college libraries, with a particular fondness for his alma mater Wake Forest University, where he established a significant fund for library acquisitions. Mrs. Paschal joined the Board of Friends of the Library at North Carolina State University and as its President, worked vigorously to help the library reach the million-book mark, making the university eligible for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. The Paschals are a unique Raleigh couple having contributed to our community each in their own way. Dr. Paschal died in 1995 having left his mark on the medical community. Mrs. Paschal continues to be an ardent promoter of the arts and education.
Susie Vick Perry
Susie Vick Perry has been described as a mover and shaker, an innovator, and just simply as a person that made things happen. Always willing to share her passion for teaching and helping others went far beyond the classroom walls. To those who knew her, her name is synonymous with excellence.
Born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1906, Perry received her Bachelor of Science degree from Shaw University in 1928. She took additional courses at North Carolina State University, Howard University, North Carolina Central University and Boston College, where she received the Master of Arts Degree in chemistry. She taught science and chemistry in Raleigh Public Schools for more than 40 years.
A community volunteer and activist, Perry created many of Raleigh’s health services and she founded the Alpha Kappa Alpha Debutante Ball enabling African-American high school girls to earn college scholarships. Perry dedicated her life to helping young people become productive and successful members of society. She set high standards for her students, always insisting they do their best work. Her emphasis on excellence was matched by her caring attitude, fairness, and belief that no child’s dream should be limited by their economic status. Perry inspired many of her students to follow her in the field of education.
Perry worked hard to help those who could not help themselves. She was a charter member in 1971 of Community Group House, a home for the mentally-ill, and she helped organize the Inner City Mental Health Center in 1975. She was also a charter member of the Board of Wake Health Services. She showed and shared love in a very positive way. Perry worked with the Shelley School Child Development Center, a center that helped developmentally disabled children of Wake County reach their full potential. She volunteered for the March of Dimes, the Triangle Lung Association, and the Cancer Awareness Task Force.
In 1977, she became an Estey Hall Foundation incorporator and Vice-Chairperson. The purpose was to preserve and restore Estey Hall on the campus of Shaw University, the oldest college dormitory and seminary for young African-American college women in the country. She served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Raleigh Historic Properties Commission. Perry chaired the Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council’s Community Development Committee and was instrumental in developing a neighborhood plan for southeast Raleigh.
For her numerous contributions to her community Perry received many awards, among them, the Jefferson Award, the Triangle Area Afro-American Life Achievement Award, and recognition by the Iota Iota chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for outstanding accomplishments and dedication to the community. A voice for the less fortunate, Susie Vick Perry was a devoted and dedicated citizen of Raleigh. She died in 1990 having shared her best and leaving behind a city better than she found it.
Sarah Denny Williamson
Sarah Denny Williamson became concerned about the preservation of Raleigh’s historic places long before it was fashionable. Formore than 40 years, she has made valuable contributions to the historic fabric and heritage of Raleigh and North Carolina.
Born in Gastonia, she was a young teen when her family moved to Raleigh in 1942 after her father had been appointed to the North Carolina State Supreme Court. Williamson graduated from Broughton High School in 1945 and four years later from Woman's College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Involved in almost every preservation effort in Raleigh since the 1960s, Williamson served on the Raleigh Historic Sites Commission at its inception. The commission was a driving force behind a pioneering effort to preserve the Mordecai House and establish the Mordecai Square Historical Society. She helped rescue historic housing on North Blount Street and helped save the old Seaboard Coast Line Building from the wrecking ball. Williamson served as a director and officer of Preservation North Carolina and was instrumental in preserving historic Oak View County Park. In 1967 as a member of the Junior League, Williamson played a vital role as the primary researcher for the 1967 publication, North Carolina’s Capital, Raleigh. This book, funded by the Junior League, has been heralded as the beginning of historic preservation in Raleigh.
With the creation of the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission in 1975, Williamson led efforts to revise guidelines for rehabilitation in historic districts. She served on the Attorney General’s Committee on Historic Preservation Legislation during the 1980s, drafting statutes on historic preservation She also appeared before the State Capital Planning Commission under three different state government administrations. Williamson helped found the North Carolina Museum of History Associates, assisted in writing the organization’s by-laws and edited its first newsletter. She helped establish the Andrews-London House on Blount Street as a visitor’s center for Raleigh. She is a founding board member of the Raleigh City Museum, located downtown in the historic Briggs Hardware Building.
In 1979, Williamson was presented with Preservation North Carolina’s highest award, the Cannon Cup. Williamson also received the 1992 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for outstanding contributions toward enhancing the beauty of the City of Raleigh. In 1998, she was the recipient of the Capital Area Preservation Anthemion Award for lifetime achievement. Sarah Denny Williamson has been a prominent advocate for Raleigh historic preservation, accomplishing much to preserve the best of Raleigh’s past. A guardian angel of historic sites, the work she began years ago continues today through others in whom she awakened a passion for historic preservation.
Whether he was delivering milk, carrying bags at Raleigh-Durham airport, building houses in Southeast Raleigh, or representing constituents on the Raleigh City Council or in the North Carolina Senate, John W. Winters served with distinction.
Born in 1920, Raleigh native Winters attended Long Island University, Virginia State University and Shaw University. He held an honorary law degree from Shaw University. As one of his early jobs, Winters was a delivery man for Melville Dairies, owned by Governor Kerr Scott's brother. As a route man, he helped deliver literature for Kerr Scott's 1948 successful campaign for governor. Terry Sanford helped manage that campaign, and when Sanford ran for Governor in 1960, Winters pulled the African-American community behind Sanford's successful campaign.
In 1957, Winters noted that developers were beginning to expand to the west and north of Raleigh with little attention being given to Southeast Raleigh. In response, Winters started John W. Winters & Company real estate and insurance. He nursed his fledging company during the day and worked nights serving as a skycap at the Raleigh-Durham Airport.
Always a gentleman and statesmen, Winters was instrumental in shaping state and local policies. In 1961, at a time when legal segregation was still prevalent in the south, Winters ran for the Raleigh City Council and was elected as the first African-American member. His election was even more significant because at that time all council seats were elected citywide, a procedure that had ensured the defeat of African-American candidates, that is, until Winters' victory. While a member of the council, Winters was appointed to the North Carolina Good Neighbor Council, Governor Sanford’s initiative to respond to the civil rights movement in an effective and responsible way. Winters left city politics in 1967 when his business demanded his full attention. In 1974, Winters successfully sought a seat in the North Carolina Senate representing Wake, Lee and Harnett counties. He served two terms until Governor Jim Hunt appointed him to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Although without a college degree, his public service included serving on the Board of Trustees of Shaw University and on the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina. Winters was a member of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church where he served on the Board of Consultants to the Bishop-President. At one time, he was Vice-President of the Parrish Advisory Council for the Cardinal Gibbons School Board.
With a caring heart, John W. Winters was a trailblazer and role model, stepping forward at a time when the city needed someone to "build bridges" between the races. He died in 2004 at the age of 84.
Third generation Raleigh native Smedes York has significantly contributed to making his hometown the dynamic place it is today. Born in 1941, York knew at an early age that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father, J. "Willie" York, and work in the construction business. The elder York’s passion for his work and the encouragement he shared with his young son quickly grabbed Smedes' attention.
York attended Broughton High School, where he was a multi-sport star and a member of its graduating class of 1959. He entered North Carolina State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. While there, he played on the basketball team under Everett Case. In the sixties, York served as First Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, receiving an Army Commendation medal in 1966 for his service in South Korea. He returned home to continue his studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1968. Soon after, he took a job with his father’s construction company, learning at his father's side.
York has turned that knowledge into his own professional career in real estate and construction where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board of York Companies: York Properties, York Simpson Underwood and Mc Donald-York construction. He also serves on the Board of SCANA, a major public corporation.
York’s desire to build communities has reached beyond bricks and mortar. He has a long record of involvement in civic groups and public service. York served on the Raleigh City Council in the late seventies, followed by two terms as the city’s mayor from 1979 until 1983. He has served in a leadership capacity in many organizations, including past president of the Boys and Girls Club, past chairman of the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and the Trustees at North Carolina State University. His love for the business drew him to the world-renowned Urban Land Institute where he has served as president. Current positions include the Board of Directors of the Research Triangle Park Foundation, Vice Chairman of Triangle Tomorrow, the Triangle United Way, and President of the YMCA of the Triangle. York is a long time supporter of Hospice of Wake County and currently leads a capital campaign to raise funds to build a hospice facility.
Smedes York is the personification of what is good and right in our community. His accomplishments and awards are many and varied, coming from business, real estate, non-profit organizations, sports, government, and education. A tireless advocate for Raleigh, he is constantly finding new and exciting ways to make our city better.
When her parents gave six-year-old Kay Yow a basketball, they had no idea that simple gift would lead to a career that would bring their daughter national and international recognition. She would become a pioneer in the field of women’s basketball, though her accomplishments extend far beyond the basketball court.
The Guilford County native played her high school basketball for Gibsonville, scoring a record 52 points in one game. When she was ready for college, sports scholarships for women were few. Yow chose to attend East Carolina, a school without a woman's basketball team. Upon graduation, Yow went back to her hometown area to teach English and become a librarian. But along with teaching came an offer to coach basketball at Allen Jay High School, her former archrival school. Five years later, Yow was at Elon College, taking classes to learn more about coaching and sports. In 1970, the college offered her a coaching job at a time when few schools in the country had a women’s college basketball program; the sport was not recognized by the NCAA. In three years, her Elon teams had a 57-19 win-loss record.
About that time, Congress passed Title IX landmark legislation mandating colleges offer sports opportunities for women. In 1975, North Carolina State University made an offer to the young Yow to coach women’ s basketball, softball, and volleyball and serve as associate athletics director. As a female leader amidst a mostly male coaching staff, Yow took her first Wolfpack woman's basketball squad to the WNIT and completed the season with a 19-7 record. In the years since, Yow teams have chalked up more than 700 victories, 20 NCAA appearances, 10 "sweet sixteen" appearances, and a trip to the 1998 Final Four.
Yow was assistant coach for the United States Olympic team which won a gold medal in 1984 and head coach four years later when USA Basketball won the gold. She was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. Yow was named the 2002 Tar Heel of the Year by The News & Observer. In February of 2007, North Carolina State University named Reynolds Coliseum’s court Kay Yow Court as a permanent tribute to her, and in July of 2007 Yow was presented with the inaugural Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance.
A woman of strong faith, Yow was inducted into the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Champions in 1991. In recent years, she has served as a beacon and spokeswoman for those suffering from cancer. A cancer survivor herself, Yow has been a big supporter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Triangle chapter. Her Hoops for Hope basketball games have generated thousands of dollars for cancer research.
For nearly 40 years, Kay Yow has been a basketball coach, mentor and role model for young women. Now she has taken on an added role of coach for cancer research. Her belief in others, her warmth, her compassion, her humility and her courage all make Kay Yow a great ambassador for the sport of women’s basketball, and an outstanding spokesperson for cancer survivors.
The Raleigh Little Theatre
The footlights came on in the Raleigh Little Theatre in 1938 and have been lighting up the city’s art scene ever since. Born in the Great Depression, the Raleigh Little Theatre has survived against the odds—through wars, budget crises, personality clashes, kind words and harsh critics—to achieve today an international reputation for excellence in community theatre.
Located on the site of the old State Fair Grounds’ racetrack, The Raleigh Little Theatre is a child of the Federal Theatre, a part of the vast umbrella of New Deal organizations developed under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The theatre, along with every other part of the nation’s economy, had been devastated by the Depression and the Federal Theatre project was an effort to find jobs for the thousands of unemployed playwrights, directors, actors and technicians. Part of the federal money was earmarked for regional theatre, and that is where Raleigh entered the picture. Plans for the building began in 1936 when a group of Raleigh performers and technical workers of the Federal Theatre realized their productions needed a home. Civic leader Mrs. Louis V. (Cantey) Sutton pushed through bureaucratic red tape and secured Federal Works Progress Administration construction of the theatre. The resulting partnership, between the federal government, the City of Raleigh and the people of Raleigh made Raleigh Little Theatre unique in the community theatre world.
Raleigh Little Theatre has continued that spirit of public/private cooperation with each and every addition or renovation, including the 1964 addition of the scene shop, the 1989 addition of the Gaddy-Godwin Teaching Theatre, and the 1999-2000 renovation of the main lobby. Currently the theatre boasts two indoor stages, an outdoor amphitheatre and rose garden, a green room, rehearsal studio, scene shop, costume shop, and administrative offices, plus an active volunteer base of more than 500. In addition to providing a venue for talented thespians and a gathering place for culture lovers, the theatre offers theatre arts training and education. To encourage and mentor young people, staff and volunteers provide year-round on-site instruction for youth ages four to 18. Over 900 people register each year for camps, classes and workshops.
In 2005, the Theatre launched its senior traveling program—The Pickle Jar Players. This group of seasoned actors visits community groups, schools, libraries and residential living centers and performs staged readings at no cost. They do, however, keep a pickle jar handy to accept donations that may come their way. In another innovative program, eight to ten singers compete in the Raleigh Little Theatre talent show DIVAS each March. Winners are on call to perform special requests from the Triangle Community for arts programming.
The Raleigh Little Theatre is itself a production that is far from over. With over 70 years of enriching, educational and entertaining community theatre, the dreams go on and the future is filled with promise.
Wake County Medical Society Alliance
Since its inception in 1926, the Wake County Medical Society Alliance has been an organization of physician spouses and physicians dedicated to improving the quality of health for children with special needs and low-income families in our community.
The Alliance is a noteworthy part of the history of the Frankie Lemmon School, a community organization that helps young children with developmental disabilities prepare for later placement in public education classes. During the 1970s, members of the Alliance became aware that the school was one of the human service agencies to be affected by state and local government funding cutbacks. Within a short period of time, the Alliance developed an action plan to help keep the doors open, hosting a wine and cheese party for the benefit of the school. This popular and successful annual event continues and is today known as the Triangle Wine Experience.
In 1980s, the Alliance was instrumental in making the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education a reality by providing capital campaign leadership and crucial initial funding. The Poe Center opened in 1991 and continues to offer quality health education for students, adults, and teachers from across North Carolina by presenting classes in general health, nutrition, substance abuse prevention, family life education and dental health. To this day, Alliance members continue to offer the Center broad support.
The Alliance has also helped raise money to support Urban Ministries’ Open Door Clinic, a free clinic established in 1985 to provide health care for uninsured and low-income adults. In addition to financial support, members of the Alliance have helped recruit volunteer physicians as well as seek and coordinate donations of sample medications from physician offices to supply the clinic's state-licensed pharmacy.
The Alliance's Funny Tummy Feelings program provides teachers and counselors a way to broach a topic that is difficult for children to talk about and one that is difficult for adults to introduce. The program began in 1986 as a self-awareness program to help children develop skills to protect themselves against the dangers and trauma of physical and sexual abuse. During the 1993-1994 school year alone, approximately 5000 children in 50 schools participated. In 1997, SAFEchild adopted sponsorship of Funny Tummy Feelings and Alliance members continue to provide support and training to SAFEchild volunteers.
For more than 75 years, the Wake Medical Society Alliance has been a leading advocate for an improved quality of life through health education and has been instrumental in improving access to health care for thousands of people in Raleigh and Wake County; they are still going strong.