Biographies from the 2006 Induction Ceremony Program.

Judge George Bason

Judge Bason
Judge George Foust Bason, a life-long resident of Raleigh, believed that every child in North Carolina was entitled to fair treatment within the North Carolina court system. His service to his community and the people of North Carolina went well beyond the call of duty.

Bason attended Raleigh public schools and graduated from Broughton High School. He earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina, served as law clerk for a U.S. District Court Judge, and worked as an attorney in private practice. In 1967, at the urging of friends, he ran a successful campaign for judge in the newly formed district court system. Upon his appointment as Chief Judge of the 10th Judicial District serving Wake County, he organized the new court and supervised its operations. He was exceptional at nurturing young lawyers’ advocacy skills and was always willing to listen.

Over the ensuing years he had opportunities to move to more lucrative positions and other levels of the judiciary, but chose to remain in district court so that he could focus on juvenile justice and pursue his commitment to treatment for severely disturbed children. He was re-elected without opposition for successive terms over 22 years until his retirement from the bench in 1991.

As a judge, he saw that the lack of continuity in juvenile court had negative consequences for young people. Always taking the most difficult cases, he soon became aware of the lack of appropriate services for Raleigh’s troubled juveniles, and spoke publicly about these issues. When his complaints went unaddressed, Bason instigated the lawsuits in 1979 that sought to compel the state to establish and operate an appropriate program for treatment of violent and severely disturbed children. These efforts were successful and led to the development of the state’s “Willie M” program, North Carolina’s first statewide treatment program for disturbed children.

Bason was one of the first judges in North Carolina to encourage state courts to use volunteers to help abused children get fair and speedy treatment in the system. This led to the creation of a statewide program know as Guardian ad Litem. He also helped found group homes such as Haven House and Wren House. During his tenure, Bason was nationally recognized as a leader in child advocacy. His service was honored with numerous awards, including National Juvenile Court Judge of the Year, Outstanding Child Advocate, and Citizen of the Year by the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

After retiring from the bench, Bason was called back into public service in 1993 by Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. who appointed him as chairman of the North Carolina Board of Ethics. Three years later, he was once again the Governor’s choice when he was tapped to be chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

The City of Raleigh lost one of its toughest, yet most passionate and fair-minded public servants on February 3, 2006. There are many adults now living in Raleigh whose lives are better because they passed through the courtroom of Judge George Foust Bason.

Miriam Preston Block

Miriam Preston Block
Miriam Block’s interest in people extended from individuals and families to communities. Her reputation of engaging the residents of her community and seeking their opinions about local policy matters was legendary. She had a driving passion to serve Raleigh and all of its citizens.

In 1973, there was a popular effort to change Raleigh’s form of government from an at-large election of Council members to a district system. Block, representing Southwest Raleigh’s District D, was the first woman elected under the new system. Block won her election handily, using two innovative strategies that are often used today: she appointed a campaign manager and she distributed yard signs and bumper stickers.

Once on the Council, Block was a vigorous supporter of Raleigh’s neighborhoods, especially those in District D. She worked for the upgrading of services for the African-American neighborhood of Method and for the blue-collar community of Caraleigh. Always pursuing greater return for tax expenditures, she advocated multiple use of school properties, resulting in a swimming pool and a county library branch at Athens Drive High School.

Block was a strong supporter of the new Citizen’s Advisory Councils, which gave structure to neighborhood 1970’s when new suburbs were being built in all directions, she led the effort to require sidewalks on major streets in all new subdivisions.

Block strongly supported parks and greenways, encouraging the city’s purchase of land for Lake Johnson Park. She pushed for the development of the greenway system and was the initial supporter of the Avent Ferry Bikeway. Block was a persistent advocate of fiscal responsibility. Noting that state government was not paying for services the City of Raleigh provided to state facilities, she approached the state administration asking that the state pay its fair share. They agreed, making a big change in State-City relations.

Block was on the Council during a time of great change in the city. She served 10 years, eight years as District D representative and two years in an at-large post. She chaired the Public Works Committee for three terms. Block helped open the door for women in politics by supporting and advising women candidates and by appointing them to city advisory boards. Advocates of women’s issues, environmental concerns and neighborhood issues found Block helpful in negotiating the hallways of city government. After she left the Council, Block continued to argue for responsible government and to counsel those in power to exercise their influence for the best interests of the community.

By learning local governance, and then demonstrating how it would be done fairly, wholeheartedly and without any nonsense, Miriam Preston Block showed others how they could do it too. A political pioneer and champion of neighborhoods, her impact lives on.

William H. “Polly” Deitrick

William Deitrick
William Henley Deitrick, “Polly” to his friends, was born in Danville, Virginia in 1895. The son of a building contractor, he was graduated cum laude from Wake Forest College in 1916. During World War I, Deitrick served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. After the war, he worked as a building contractor, and in 1920 he married Elizabeth Hunter of Raleigh. He took up graduate work in architecture at Columbia University in New York City. There he was employed in the office of prominent architect, Raymond Hood.

In 1924, Deitrick moved to Raleigh to work for architect James Salter in the area of school construction. It happened, however, that Salter’s practice was failing and there was no money to pay the $60 a week that young Deitrick had been promised. Deitrick quit the Salter firm in 1925 to accept employment with the school board as construction supervisor for Raleigh public schools.

In 1927, Deitrick was licensed to practice architecture in North Carolina and opened his own firm in Raleigh. Besides numerous school buildings in many parts of the state, his office also designed other public projects including college and university buildings, residences and commercial buildings. In the mid 1930’s when the state’s budget was tenuous, federal money continued to flow especially for school construction, allowing Deitrick’s practice to flourish.

Two landmark projects that serve almost as bookends to his remarkable career symbolize Deitrick’s most notable work. Built in the late 1920’s, Broughton High School is one of the state’s most beautiful school buildings, designed in the Lombard Gothic Revival style that established the young architect as one of the foremost designers in the city and state. Over 20 years later, the young Polish architect Matthew Nowicki prepared the initial design for Dorton Arena while associated with Deitrick’s firm. After Nowicki’s untimely death in 1950, Deitrick and his firm completed the design and made the revolutionary building at the State Fairgrounds a reality. No two other buildings better represent architecture and change in twentieth century Raleigh. In 1953, Deitrick won the First Honor Award of the American Institute of Architects for the Dorton Arena project.

In 1938, Deitrick bought Raleigh’s old water tower and saved this historic landmark from destruction. He renovated it to serve as his offices and years later deeded the property to the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in perpetuity with restrictive covenants on the preservation of the exterior. He retained a right to keep personal office space in the Tower until his death in 1974. The Tower is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated by the Raleigh Sites Commission as a Raleigh Landmark. It is one of the first and leading examples of adaptive reuse of an historic building.

Deitrick served as President of the Raleigh Civic Music Association, Chairman of the Board of the North Carolina Art Society, President of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, President of the North Carolina Design Foundation and Chairman of the Raleigh Historic Sites Commission. In 1956, Deitrick was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, the highest accolade the profession can accord.

Through his work and service to his community, William Henley “Polly” Deitrick made a lasting impression on the face of Raleigh and, in the opinion of many, is considered to be Raleigh’s “Father of Historic Preservation.” Deitrick died at the age of 79 and is buried in Raleigh’s historic Oakwood Cemetery.

Dr. Billy Dunlap

 Dr. Billy Dunlap
Dr. William Dunlap, “Billy” as he is affectionately called by his friends and associates, is widely praised for caring about the quality of his patients’ lives and the quality of their deaths. The son of a North Carolina State University textiles professor and school teacher mother, Dunlap grew up in Raleigh just minutes from where Rex Hospital now stands. He traces his approach to medicine to the legacy his country-doctor grandfather left behind—an approach that establishes personal relationships with the families he treats.

A 1965 graduate of Duke Medical School, Dunlap completed his medical residency at the Medical College of Virginia and served two years in the U.S. Medical Corps. He has practiced medicine in Raleigh since 1973 and helped found Raleigh Medical Group. He soon recognized that he could not always deliver everything terminally ill patients needed. This led to the founding of Hospice of Wake County, the non-profit organization that currently cares for more than 1,400 patients and their families each year.

The idea of Hospice, a movement to provide medical, social, and spiritual support to the dying and their families, captured Dunlap’s imagination in 1977. With support and financial help from Dunlap’s family and friends, Hospice of Wake County became a reality in 1980 with one nurse and seven patients. A tireless advocate, Dunlap has raised more than $1 million for Hospice. Recently he gained approval for, and is helping to raise funds for a new headquarters for Hospice with a patient-care center as its core. The center will resemble a home more than a hospital, and will welcome dying people unable to remain at home.

Dunlap has also been instrumental in the formation of a palliative care wing at Rex Hospital for the terminally ill and their families. After the death of patients, support teams aid families through their grief. A reflection program specifically developed for children helps the young cope with the death of a loved one.

Dunlap also helps the young through the Boys and Girls Clubs in Wake County, serving as a personal and medical mentor. He gives club members free exams to make sure they are fit for camp, monitors after school programs from homework to basketball, and helps with fundraising. He is also a valued member of the North Carolina Community Foundation and serves on the Wake County Advisory Board for the Foundation.

Through the leadership and vision of Dr. William “Billy” Dunlap, thousands of patients and families have been and continue to be helped through the shadow of the end of life suffering. He has unselfishly given his talents to serve the needs of others and is widely praised by his patients for his care, concern and generous giving of his time.

Dr. Albert Edwards

Dr. Albert Edwards
Dr. Albert Edwards has been a minister, a conscience, a source of inspiration, and a joy to many North Carolinians. Born in Canada in 1916, he was raised by grandparents in Scotland. As a young boy growing up in that country, he experienced a simple lifestyle that would later influence all the years of his ministry.

Edwards made his way to Raleigh in 1958, bringing with him the beginning of a new era in the ministry of First Presbyterian Church where he served as Senior Minister for nearly three decades. Church attendance grew to standing room only and membership doubled during his tenure, a result of his amazing ability to motivate.

At First Presbyterian, Dr. Edwards is credited with the expansion and development of new and lasting church programs. Most notable are the Early Birds, a men only program that spawned an interdenominational camaraderie among those who came for worship and fellowship before going to work, and the popular Wednesday noon service and luncheon reaching out in worship and fellowship to those working in the city’s downtown. Under his leadership, First Presbyterian organized several new churches, and supported the legal action against the Synod of North Carolina to keep Peace College in downtown Raleigh.

Edwards is respected for his outreach and compassion, especially in the 1960’s when integration was a divisive issue. In a May 1963 sermon, Edwards reminded his congregation that integration was not only for elected officials — everyone needed to become advocates. The following Sunday, Edwards asked for a show of hands from those who had accepted his challenge. The lack of response from the congregation so disturbed him that he pronounced the benediction and left the sanctuary. The following week the Session gave Edwards a vote of confidence. Next Sunday the congregation stood up as he entered the Chancel, and later that week the church voted to open the Wednesday fellowship luncheon and service to all.

His commitment to social concerns also led to the establishment of the Friendship Fund, the Clothes Closet, and the Bicycle Fund that ministered to those in need. Starting in the fall of 1974, Edwards became widely known for his Sunday morning services broadcast on WRAL-TV.

Edwards served as Chaplain to the North Carolina House of Representatives for many years. He was a member of the Peace College Board of Trustees, a commissioned member of the Raleigh Housing Authority and Redevelopment Commission and served on the Salvation Army Board of Directors. His thought-provoking messages, Scottish brogue and unique style also made Dr. Edwards a sought after speaker for civic groups and college campuses.

Dr. Albert Edwards is a religious leader respected by members of all denominations. The hearts and minds of Raleigh residents have been fortified by his wisdom, charmed by his twinkling eyes, and blessed by his kindness and love for others.

Albert Earle Finley

Albert Earle Finley
Businessman and philanthropist Albert Earle Finley came to Raleigh in 1926 as salesman for a heavy equipment company. In 1929, he and his business partners founded Raleigh Tractor and Truck Company, and in 1931, he started his own firm, North Carolina Equipment Company. This business was the springboard for the organization of many others, and by 1951 a network of companies stretched across five southeastern states, the largest equipment distributorship in the United States.

But successful businesses were only a starting point for Finley. He soon became a benefactor to hospitals, churches, colleges and universities. Finley was a generous supporter of the development of Raleigh’s YMCA facilities. He chaired the YMCA Building fund in 1958, leading to the construction of a modern building on Hillsborough Street. In 1980, he provided support for the expansion of this facility, as well as a new building in Southeast Raleigh and later one in North Raleigh. As a member of the Raleigh Host Lions Club, Finley furnished, without charge, all the heavy equipment used in constructing Lions Park. He also provided funding to start the Lions Club Horse Show, an event that raises significant funds each year to help the disadvantaged.

An avid golfer, Finley recognized the need for recreational facilities for the “average” family. With his leadership, Raleigh Golf Association (RGA) opened in November 1929, providing an affordable golf course open to the public. The city has since held many amateur golf tournaments there, and Finley served over 40 years as their President. As a Jaycee, he was the business leader who supported efforts to sponsor National Football League (NFL) Exhibition games to raise funds to build the state zoo. As an individual, he underwrote the costs of the train in Pullen Park.

To perpetuate his philanthropic endeavors beyond his lifetime, Finley and his wife, Marian, established the A.E. Finley Foundation in 1957. The Foundation remains one of the most vibrant and generous philanthropic organizations in the Raleigh area. A list of beneficiaries which could easily fill this page, includes North Carolina State University, Peace College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC Medical Center, Duke University and Children’s Health Center, Ravenscroft School, Rex Hospital, Exploris Museum, North Carolina Theatre, North Carolina Symphony, Alice Aycock Poe Center, Boy Scouts of America, Women’s Center of Wake County and historic Yates Mill County Park.

Albert Earle Finley was a generous man endowed with great vision. His initiative and exceptional talent for conscientious work transformed him from a Virginia farm boy to one of North Carolina’s most successful business entrepreneurs. He is remembered most for his willingness to give generously to others. Raleigh continues to be a great place to live; he helped to make it so. Finley died on October 10, 1986 at his Raleigh home.

Senator Jesse Helms

Senator Jesse Helms
U.S. Senator Jesse Helms may well have been the catalyst for the re-emergence of the two-party system in North Carolina politics. Helms changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1970, and two years later was elected to the United States Senate. His election marked the first time since Reconstruction that a Republican had won any statewide office in North Carolina.

Born in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1921, Helms became a voice for and a mentor to those with kindred conservative views. He was re-elected to the Senate four times, serving 30 years. In his distinguished career, he headed the Senate Foreign Relations and Agriculture Committees. His service in Washington, D.C. is best remembered for his devotion to the people of North Carolina through his constituent services. He retired from the Senate in January 2003. The Jesse Helms Center was established at Wingate University in 1987 and houses the Senator’s papers.

The Senator attended college at both Wingate and Wake Forest. His first job after college was as a sports writer for The News & Observer. During World War II, Helms served his country stateside as a recruiter in the Navy. After the war, he returned to Raleigh to pursue his twin interests of journalism and politics. He became the city news editor for The Raleigh Times, an afternoon paper covering the Wake County area. He left the newspaper for his first job in broadcasting.

He left Raleigh to serve on the staff of Senator Willis Smith in Washington, D.C. and returned in 1953 to become Executive Director of the North Carolina Bankers Association. He went on to become the executive vice-president, vice chairman of the board and assistant chief executive of Capitol Broadcasting Company from 1960 until his election to the Senate.

It was during his time at Capitol Broadcasting Company’s WRAL-TV that Helms began his daily on-air commentaries at the conclusion of the local newscast. The following day, his commentaries were aired over the Tobacco Radio Network and Helms soon became a household name for his political insight.

Helms won a seat on the Raleigh City Council in 1957, serving for four years. He was on the Council during the building of a new city hall that now serves as the city’s police headquarters. While on the Council, he was a watchdog for the citizen’s pocketbook on tax issues, just as he was as a Senator in Washington, D.C.

Helms served on the Board of Trustees of Meredith College, John. F. Kennedy College, Campbell University and Wingate University. He was a member of Hayes Barton Baptist Church, having served as Deacon and Sunday school teacher. Helms died in July 2008.

A trailblazer for the conservative cause, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms was considered one of the most influential individuals in American government. His policies and opinions will be felt by our city, county, state, nation and the world for many years to come.

Vallie Henderson

 Vallie Henderson
Born in 1907, Vallie Lewis Henderson loved Raleigh, the city of her birth. An avid gardener, she was passionate about beautifying her surroundings, her neighborhood, her city, and her state.

Henderson moved to what is now downtown’s Historic Oakwood community in 1935, where she made her home for 60 years. In 1950, she founded the Oakwood Garden Club with the sole purpose of improving a neighborhood that had been in decline during the war years. She helped a number of other neighborhoods across the city organize garden clubs.

In the early 1970’s when Oakwood seemed destined for urban renewal, she successfully organized opposition to a proposed freeway which would have cut right through her neighborhood. She was instrumental in forming the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood to help protect this architectural treasure. The neighborhood was eventually listed as a national historic district in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1974 the city designated Oakwood as it first local historic district. Henderson made countless informal contributions to Oakwood, often helping prospective residents find the perfect house and greeting newcomers with dinners.

When the Sears Roebuck Foundation announced a national program to encourage the revitalization of older neighborhoods through a program call HANDS (Home and Neighborhood Development Sponsors), Henderson used the opportunity to involve the City, rally other garden clubs, and bring together additional sponsors to support her beautification and conservation efforts. Over the years HANDS projects have included beautifying parks and major city street entrances, as well as special projects identified and supported by the mayor and city council. In 1989, Henderson received the highest honor of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. when she was awarded the Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson award for promoting a cleaner, greener neighborhood.

Henderson graduated from high school in 1924 and worked as a bookkeeper in a dentist’s office for 60 years. She married Archie Forbes Henderson, Jr. in 1938. The ceremony was held in her Oakwood home. During her long life she was active with the Raleigh Little Theatre, North Carolina Dental Society, Raleigh Safety Council, and the YWCA. She was a fixture at the annual Raleigh Home, Garden, and Flower Show. When asked to pick a favorite flower, Henderson declined saying that to name one would be taking away from one to give to another. In addition to her garden club passion, Henderson was a community leader in clean up and recycling programs.

The efforts of Vallie Lewis Henderson to beautify her hometown were significant, and Raleigh continues to benefit in many ways from her many years of devoted community service. Today, the Oakwood Garden Club lovingly maintains the Vallie Lewis Henderson Park, located at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Linden Street.

Henderson passed away on December 21, 1998 and is buried in Raleigh’s historic Oakwood Cemetery.

Joseph Holt Sr. and Elwyna

 Joseph Holt Sr. and Elwyna
When the civil rights movement was just beginning, two Raleigh pioneers had a vision for ensuring a quality education for their son. First to challenge Raleigh’s segregated schools, Joseph H. Holt, Sr. and his wife Elwyna spearheaded the school integration initiative in the summer of 1956 when they attempted to enroll their thirteen year old son in all-white Josephus Daniels Junior High School, located within walking distance of their home in the Oberlin Village community. Resistance was immediate.

Following submission of their application, the city schools superintendent attempted to persuade Mrs. Holt to withdraw her son’s application in exchange for free transportation for her son and other neighborhood children to attend all-black J.W. Ligon Junior-Senior High School located several miles across town. She declined to withdraw the application, stating that it would stand, but that she would accept the free transportation. With the announcement that the family would see this through and take legal action, if necessary, to achieve their rights, Joseph shook the very foundation of Raleigh’s status quo. It was unheard of that a black man would demonstrate such personal courage and confidence, and organize and assert his thoughts with such clarity and conviction.

The black community, fearful of reprisals against all for the courage of one, reeled in disbelief, distancing themselves from the Holts to the extent that they became socially isolated. Angry whites reacted in a retributive way, at first with menacing telephone messages. Then, in June 1957, the reprisals increased suddenly, and almost exponentially, immediately following the Holt’s application for their son to attend Needham Broughton High School. It was the beginning of about a three and one-half year nightmare of almost daily harassment. Joseph was suddenly dismissed from employment. Elwyna, a public school teacher at the time, had one of her paychecks garnished leaving her with net earnings of less than a dollar. Under great stress, the Holts stayed the course.

In the midst of it all, the Holts filed suit in federal court against the school board later that summer when their son’s application was turned down for a third time. The case was heard in 1958 and did not close until October 1959. At that time their son was in his senior year at J. W. Ligon High School. The Holts were not successful due to a legal technicality closely linked to the 1956 state legislation designed to prevent integration. The legislation was ruled unconstitutional by a three-judge federal court in the spring of 1966, nearly two years after their son graduated from college.

Joseph Holt, Sr. and Elwyna Holt were civil rights trailblazers in Raleigh. Through their commitment and courage, they became leaders of social change, paving the way for future civil rights action, and legislation in Raleigh and beyond.

Charles Irving, Sr. and his daughter, Vivian Irving

Charles Irving, Sr
For two generations, stretching across the 20th century, community and business leaders Charles Irving Sr. and his daughter, Vivian Irving, have been in the forefront of Raleigh’s civil rights movement.

Charles, whose father was born a slave, worked his way through two years at Kinston College as a part-time printer. He married Callie Brown in 1919. A year later, they moved to Raleigh where Vivian, the first of their three children was born.

Charles started work as a reporter and pressman at The Raleigh Independent, which later became The Carolinian, Raleigh’s black newspaper, and dreamed of one day having his own print shop. While continuing to work part time at the newspaper, he took a job as a mail carrier in 1921, where he earned the respect of his colleagues and customers, and successfully challenged the post office’s segregated lunch and restroom facilities. He retired from the postal service in 1955.

Vivian received her A.B. from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. Before beginning her printing career, she taught school at DuBois High School in Wake Forest and spent two years in Washington DC during World War II working for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. While there, Vivian took courses in printing at a vocational school and later at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pennsylvania.

Returning to Raleigh, Vivian worked at The Carolinian before helping her father to found Irving-Swain Press, Inc. in 1947. With printer’s ink in Charles’ blood, and Vivian’s interest in keeping the community informed, the newly launched company became a life-long family business venture. Charles went to the office every day until his 97th birthday; Vivian held the position of manager for 55 years. She became owner of Irving-Swain Press, Inc. following her father’s death in 1994.

The Irving’s contributions to Raleigh went far beyond the establishment of a successful business. Along with her father, Vivian Irving was in the forefront of the civil rights movement in Raleigh, both in strategy meetings and public marches and demonstrations. Both were active members of the local chapter of the NAACP, with Charles being among the earliest members at a time when it was dangerous to be part of the group. Vivian has received the NAACP Service Award for her lifelong and dedicated service.

Charles has been called a renaissance man — a fitting title. A journalist, as well as a printer, he wrote articles for numerous newspapers and other periodicals. In the mid-1940’s, Charles pioneered a weekly radio news program on WRAL. He also promoted concerts and sporting events, and developed real estate. He helped secure land for Chavis Park; helped obtain the school board’s approval for Ligon High School, and was a member and one-time secretary of what is now the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association.

Vivian has been politically active and has devoted many years of her adult life to serving the needs of Raleigh’s citizens. A long-time member of the League of Women Voters, she became the first African-American woman accepted into the organization in 1955 and was honored with the League’s courage award. A respected source on Raleigh’s history, Vivian served as advisor to the Raleigh City Museum for the exhibit, Let Us March On: Raleigh’s Journey Toward Civil Rights, a project to document local stories and events occurring during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Making sure people exercised their right to vote, Vivian served as Registrar for Precinct 26 of Wake County for 30 years.

Committed to their community, Charles Irving, Sr. and his daughter, Vivian Irving, together, have created a family legacy of quiet and courageous leadership, securing equal rights and opportunities for all people.

Junior League Of Raleigh

Junior League Of Raleigh
The Junior League of Raleigh, an organization of more than 1,600 women, is committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Founded in 1930, the organization has always responded to the needs of a quickly growing community and has remained steadfast in its efforts to serve children.

The Junior League of Raleigh, an organization of more than 1,600 women, is committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Founded in 1930, the organization has always responded to the needs of a quickly growing community and has remained steadfast in its efforts to serve children.

In its early years, volunteers worked in hospitals and helped with war needs. Highlights from the 1950’s include the opening of Rex Hospital’s newborn ward. During the 1960’s, the organization initiated the Hill Top Home for Children, a kindergarten for 4-year olds in the Halifax Court Housing Community, and the Raleigh Boys Club. In 1969, the Junior League worked with Project Enlightenment to create a Parent Teacher Resource Center for the city’s schools. The Junior League marked the 1970’s by helping to fund such diverse projects as Learning Together, Theatre in the Park, Mordecai Historic Park, Drug Action and the Tammy Lynn Center; spearheading the opening of Haven House for Girls and; supporting the New Bern Avenue Day Care Center. Proceeds from the organization’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1980 supported Project Enlightenment’s Parent Teacher Resource Center, and Child Abuse Protection Services.

In 1992, Junior League of Raleigh made perhaps its most significant impact on the community with the launch of its signature project, SAFEchild, a nonprofit agency aimed at eliminating child abuse. The organization funded SAFEchild for its first three years to assist in its development and fundraising efforts. Each year, more than 50 Junior League members serve on the SAFEchild Board and volunteer to assist with fundraising activities. SAFEchild has been recognized for its groundbreaking approaches and is one of the first Triangle area agencies to offer programs for Spanish-speaking families.

The Junior League of Raleigh’s strong community support is possible because of its successful, long-term fundraisers. Since 1933, it has been the only League to host a Governor’s Inaugural Ball. The Junior League of Raleigh has operated the Bargain Box thrift store since 1951 providing affordable, high-quality, second hand clothing, toys and household items to the community. The organization has sponsored its A Shopping SPREE!, a successful four-day shopping event for over 20 years.

Each member is required to participate annually in a Junior League project. As a result, trained Junior League volunteers have made an impact on countless community organizations by serving on their board, leading fundraisers and implementing programs. Twenty members have been honored for their achievement with induction into the YWCA Academy of Women.

The Junior League of Raleigh continues to produce experienced, trained volunteers, hold unique fundraiser events, and invest significant time and resources in community projects. Today, as much as ever in its 75-year history, the organization remains a community-oriented tradition in our great city.

League Of Women Voters

league of women voters
Founded in 1948, The League of Women Voters of Wake County has played an important role in helping to shape Raleigh into what it is today — a vibrant growing city in which to live, work and play.

A nonpartisan organization, the League encourages the informed and active participation of all citizens in government and politics. It works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The organization provides a forum allowing diverse minds to study a subject, reach consensus, and form a plan of action. It promotes non-partisan informational programs on candidates and issues, and works to encourage voter registration and participation in elections. For many years, the League has published the “Citizens Guide” which is the official “go to” publication for information on area elected officials. Membership was opened to men in the 1970’s.

Some of the League’s contributions to the betterment of Raleigh include support for the merger of Raleigh City and Wake County schools and their integration, and support for funding of a county and statewide library system. In the early 1970’s the League organized workshops on the quality and flooding of Crabtree Creek, and opposed a move by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn Crabtree Creek into a concrete ditch. Additionally, the League organized petitions to change the way the mayor and city council were elected to allow more constituent representation and governing effectiveness. Today, instead of being appointed by the city council, the mayor is elected by the citizens at large and the city council has district representation as well as at-large members.

While working with the citizens of Raleigh on a number of issues, the organization faced its own struggles. When the League was integrated with the pioneering membership of Vivian Irving in 1955, six of the 30 members resigned. This led to the organization having to find another place to hold its meetings, as the hosting restaurant would not allow blacks to eat there. In 1968, the League began speaking out against the Raleigh geographical attendance plan within a “dual school system.” This was an unpopular position at a time when racial prejudice was the norm. Eight years later, the League achieved success for the merger of the City of Raleigh and Wake County school systems. Action by the General Assembly in 1975 to effect the merger finally put Raleigh into compliance with the 1967 federal ruling for integration of the school system.

The League has also played a critical role in encouraging Raleigh to develop a greenway system and the Capitol Area Transit (CAT) bus system. It supported a scattered site approach to low-income housing. In 1976, Raleigh was designated an All American City due in large part to the application presentation by the League. Today, The League of Women Voters of Wake County remains an active and vital participant in public policy issues affecting the citizens of Wake County, and challenges us to not only be informed about important matters, but also to participate in our government at all levels.