Biographies from the 2010 Induction Ceremony Program.
For decades, Earl and Margery Johnson have played significant roles in the building of Raleigh’s civic, cultural and educational institutions. Their good deeds are done quietly, without bravado, and often anonymously.
Earl, a Raleigh native, and Richmond-born Margie were both raised in civically involved families. In 1957, after Earl’s service as a US Naval officer, the young couple made Raleigh their home.
Earl began work with his father at Moore & Johnson Insurance Agency. In 1962, he founded Carolina Crane, later changing the name to Southern Industrial Contractors. Johnson still leads this award-winning company which operates throughout the Eastern US and employs over 750 people.
Despite the burgeoning business and a growing family, Earl and Margie always found time for community service.
Margie became involved in the Junior League of Raleigh, serving on many committees and as president. She was a founding member and president of Haven House, and honorary chair of WakeUp for Children. She served on the boards of United Way, St. Mary’s, and the Foundation of Hope. A past president of the NC Museum of History Associates, Margie continues to support the museum and its mission.
A key leader in the North Carolina Symphony and NC Symphony Foundation, Margie has served as president and long term board member. She was a member of the board of the League of American Orchestras. Equally committed to health care, Margie served as vice chair of the Rex Hospital board, and continues to serve on the board of the Lineberger Cancer Center.
Earl has been no less prolific in community service. His 37 year leadership of RTI International has been integral to the success of this world class scientific organization. The second chairman in its board’s history, he has served in this role for seventeen years. A champion for the Boys and Girls Club, Earl has served as board member and president, chair of the building committee, and as a trustee. He has provided leadership on the boards of Ravenscroft School, Virginia Episcopal School, and on the Board of Visitors at UNC Chapel Hill. He continues as a 30 year member and past president of the Oakwood Cemetery board, as vice chairman of the NC Zoo board, and a member of the Lineberger Cancer Center Board of Visitors.
Johnson is appreciated throughout the arts community for providing crane service for challenging tasks. Since the inception of First Night Raleigh, Earl has ensured that the Big Acorn drops at the appointed hour. The NC Museum of Natural Science, Exploris, and the NC Museum of Art have also been beneficiaries of pro bono crane service.
In recognition of their contributions, Earl and Margery received the Business Support of the Arts Award from the United Arts Council and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. In 2005, Earl was inducted into Boys and Girls Clubs Hall of Fame.
For over half a century, Earl and Margery Johnson have distinguished themselves as extraordinary leaders and generous philanthropists. Always supporting each other’s efforts, they continue to improve quality of life throughout the Raleigh community and in society at large.
Through tireless volunteerism, generous philanthropy, and the warmth of his personality, Dr. Abram Kanof made a singular contribution to Raleigh’s cultural landscape and to interfaith understanding through the establishment of the Judaic Art Gallery at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA).
Abram Kanof’s life began far from Raleigh in Tsarist Russia. A pogrom forced his family to flee to America, where they settled in New York. Abe became a pediatrician who later taught pediatricians. However, medicine was only part of his life. He was moved by the richness of the Jewish faith and culture and by art in all its forms, and dedicated to community service.
In the late 1960’s Kanof retired to Raleigh, where he expanded pursuit of his interests. He involved himself in the Triangle’s Jewish communities. He joined the NCMA, and was soon named a Trustee. In 1974, he convinced museum leadership to let him organize a temporary exhibition titled “Ceremonial Art in the Judaic Tradition.” Its success inspired Abe to build a permanent collection of Judaica, though it was made clear he would have to raise the funds and assemble the collection himself.
He welcomed the challenge. Kanof traveled the state, lecturing to civic and religious groups while cultivating potential donors. The Kanofs donated many objects from their own collection. By 1983, when the Museum opened on Blue Ridge Road, one of the most remarkable galleries featured not Old Master paintings, but silver Torah crowns, Hanukkah lamps and Sabbath candlesticks.
In 1996 – at the age of 92 – Kanof oversaw a reinstallation of the gallery and wrote the 48-page guide to the collection. He continued to add to the collection, and was always in demand for tours. A natural teacher, he enjoyed performing before a group of five or fifty.
In addition to his NCMA leadership, Kanof was instrumental in launching the Annual NC Holocaust Observance, and in the revival of the Southern Jewish Historical Society. He led a group of North Carolinians to Israel as part of the North Carolina-Israel Partnership Outreach. He and Mrs. Kanof donated their collection of illustrated materials, correspondence and archives to Duke University. He established the Frances Pascher Adult Education Endowment at Beth Meyer Synagogue, and helped found the Triangle Seminar for Jewish Studies.
The Kanofs are recognized at the NC Museum of Art through an annual lecture that bears their names. Governor Jim Hunt named December 25, 1993 Abram Kanof Day in honor of his many contributions to North Carolina. His vision lives on through the Friends of the Judaic Art Gallery, a statewide volunteer group dedicated to perpetuating his work.
Abram Kanof was a compassionate teacher, dedicated to lighting candles wherever he found a darkness. His deep love for Judaism and art and his devotion to teaching and ecumenism came together to enrich Raleigh and our state. The NC Museum of Art Judaic Art Collection endures as a testament to his legacy, as a collection of national stature, and a source of pride for all North Carolinians.
Many African-American’s who grew up in Raleigh remember J. D. Lewis as the “voice for African American Raleigh.” Others recall Lewis as the first African-American to host his own local television dance program, WRAL-TV’s Teenage Frolics. To those who followed his career, he is known a trailblazer in local broadcasting and community activism.
J. D. Lewis Jr. grew up in Raleigh on South Bloodworth Street. He starred in football and track at Washington High, and earned a scholarship to Morehouse College. In college, he met and married Louise Wilson.
Lewis served as a member of the Montford Point Marines, and was one of the first 200 blacks to serve in the US Marine Corps. His wartime experience in radar electronics prepared him to start a radio and television repair business.
Upon Lewis’s return home, he built a mobile sound truck, and was hired by the Negro League to announce ballgames using his public address system. His reputation grew, soon crossing the color barrier.
In 1947, Capitol Broadcasting Company’s (CBC) general manager Fred Fletcher attended a game and hired him on the spot. Lewis became the first African-American radio announcer in the state. His wide-ranging show aired until 1968.
In 1958, Teenage Frolics debuted on WRAL-TV with Lewis as show host. Raleigh residents enjoyed national recording artists like Isaac Hayes, Lou Rawls and The Dells, and interviews with local leaders. To this day, African-American adults in the Raleigh area reminisce about Teenage Frolics with the unforgettable J.D. Lewis.
Lewis served in other roles at CBC during a career spanning more than four decades. When WRAL made the leap to television, Lewis helped CBC secure its FCC license. In 1974, Lewis became the company’s first human resources director. He recorded editorials for WRAL-TV, and served as its first minority affairs director. Upon retirement in 1997, Lewis asked that CBC make a donation to his favorite charity, the Garner Road YMCA, in lieu of a gift for himself. CBC and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation made donations totaling $200,000 in his honor, helping establish the J.D. Lewis Multipurpose Center.
Lewis also provided leadership for numerous Raleigh civic organizations. He served multiple terms as chairman of the Garner Road YMCA board, and was instrumental in its establishment. His service to the YMCA resulted in the safe haven that exists today for Southeast Raleigh youth. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Raleigh.
In 2007, Lewis received the Triangle Urban League’s Legends Award, honoring him for his broadcasting career and commitment to Raleigh’s youth. Other accolades included the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the NAACP and induction into the Hall of Distinction by the African-American Cultural Complex in Raleigh.
Lewis left a great void when he died in 2007 at the age of 87. His legacy lives on through his children and the many who were inspired by his on-air presence and his off-air commitment to serve the Raleigh community.
James M. Peden loved the City of Raleigh, and was grateful for the many opportunities it provided. His philosophy, which he instilled in his family, was to give back to the community which had been supportive of him.
Jim Peden was born in the mountains of North Carolina, but he considered Raleigh his true home.
He came to Raleigh in 1916 to attend State College, where he quickly became known for his academic and leadership abilities. After graduation, he worked in Pittsburgh as a teacher and in Chicago with Illinois Steel before returning to Raleigh to work for Raleigh Iron Works. In 1931, at the height of the Depression, he took a “leap of faith” and bought the fabricated steel division from the bankrupt Raleigh Iron Works. Business started slow, but with many sales calls and much hard work, he began to turn it around. During World War II, Peden Steel fabricated barges for the War Department, earning the distinguished
Army-Navy E Award for exceptional equipment production, bringing acclaim to Peden Steel and the City of Raleigh. Many of Raleigh’s developers and municipal leaders also counted on Peden’s commitment to excellence. Wake County Court House, Cameron Village, Crabtree Valley Mall, and Edenton Street Church, and countless schools, commercial buildings and highway bridges began with Peden Steel.
The hard work and success of his company was matched only by Peden’s resolve to give back to the community that supported him and his business.
As a leader in the Raleigh business community, Peden served as a director of Security National Bank, (now Bank of America), and as President of First Federal Savings and Loan. Peden chaired the Civil Service Commission for municipal employees, and served on the Zoning Commission.
In the civic arena, Peden helped organize the Raleigh Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), and served as its second president. He served as president of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the Raleigh Engineers Club, and the Kiwanis Club, and twice as president of the Carolina Country Club.
A faithful supporter of his alma mater, Peden served with distinction on the boards of the NC State Alumni Association, Wolf Pack Club and Engineering Foundation. Through his work at the Foundation, he helped bring outstanding academic professionals to the university.
A dedicated member of Christ Episcopal Church, Peden served several times as Senior Warden, as a member of the pastoral search committee, and as chairman of the 150th Anniversary committee. His exceptional leadership in the moving of the First State Bank of North Carolina from the church property to an adjoining lot had a lasting impact on the city, allowing much needed church building expansion and preservation of the important historic building.
Jim Peden was known for the dedication, wisdom, and wit he brought to every involvement on behalf of his beloved city. His influence endures in the lives of those he inspired, and in the myriad structures, organizations, and institutions he created and enriched throughout the City of Raleigh.
When Edward Nelson “Ed” Richards arrived in postwar Raleigh in the 1940’s, he immediately set about the task of making his new home a better place to live. His energetic leadership in real estate development and public service played a major role in the evolution of the Capitol City as we know it today.
Richards came to Raleigh via Forest Hills, NY, where he was born November 5, 1910. His father was a developer, and young Ed showed early interest in the business. On a fateful trip to North Carolina in the 1940’s, Richards met fellow developer Willie York and knew immediately he had found an area with promise as a Mecca for families and business.
Richards built his first project, the still-thriving Country Club Homes Apartments on Oberlin Road, in 1949. He went on to build over 3,500 apartments, 18 shopping centers and over 15,000 homes, pioneering new neighborhoods and new approaches to retailing that helped fuel decades of growth and prosperity in Raleigh.
Across the city, neighborhoods including Woodcrest, Ridgewood, Pinecrest, Longview Lake, Biltmore Hills, North Hills, and North Ridge demonstrate Richards’ creativity and commitment to quality homes with a variety of design, protection from traffic, pleasant yards and privacy, as well as his penchant for community building. Many of the neighborhoods welcomed first time home buyers with affordable homes and FHA or VA financing. Biltmore Hills was one of the first non-segregated communities in Raleigh. Richards’ vision in the creation of North Ridge Subdivision and Golf Course was key to the development of North Raleigh.
In the same period, Richards developed the Ridgewood, Eastgate, Lake Boone Trail, Tower and North Ridge Shopping Centers as hubs for these growing communities. In 1967, he made history with the opening of North Hills Mall, the first enclosed mall in between Washington, DC and Miami, Florida.
Ed Richards also contributed to Raleigh’s growth and development through philanthropy, civic service, and as a mentor to young developers. He provided key leadership and support to educational and cultural institutions, including NC State University, Ravenscroft School, and the North Carolina Symphony. He was instrumental in helping build YMCA facilities on Hillsborough Street, Garner Road, in North Raleigh and at Camps Seagull and Seafarer. He answered the calls of mayors and governors to lead economic development efforts. He served on the NC Ports Authority board, where he played a vital role in port development programs in Morehead City and Wilmington.
In every case, Richards provided modest, unassuming, yet powerful leadership. Though he typically declined recognition for his many contributions, Ravenscroft School named its middle school building in his honor.
As a master builder, visionary developer and dedicated public servant, Ed Richards met the needs of a growing metropolis unobtrusively and without fanfare. His foresight and generous spirit played a large part in the success that Raleigh has enjoyed over the past sixty years.
A legendary educator and renowned civic leader, Dr. Prezell Russell Robinson took St. Augustine’s College to new heights during his long tenure as its President, and has promoted education on a worldwide stage throughout his prolific career.
Robinson grew up as one of nine children in Batesburg, South Carolina. He earned his high school and junior college degrees at Voorhees College, and served in the US Army during World War II. After the war, Robinson earned his undergraduate degree at St. Augustine’s College, and master’s and doctoral degrees at Cornell.
Robinson returned to St. Augustine’s as a professor of sociology, and served as executive dean before his appointment as president in 1965. Under his visionary leadership, St. Augustine’s achieved national recognition and became one of the best colleges of its size in the state. A successful fundraiser, Robinson oversaw a twenty-fold increase in the endowment. In 1988, he was celebrated by his peers as one of the most effective college presidents in the nation.
Robinson is a powerful champion for education at the state, national, and international levels. He served as president of the United Negro College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and vice chairman of the North Carolina Board of Education. He served on the board of the International Association of University Presidents, and as a trustee of Voorhees College. Dr. Robinson held leadership roles within the US Department of State for over 25 years, including US Visiting Lecturer in more than 20 countries. He was appointed as Public Ambassador to the General Assembly of the United Nations by Presidents George H. W. Bush and William Clinton.
An energetic civic servant, Robinson provided leadership to the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Wachovia Bank of North Carolina, and as Advancement Chairman of the Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is an active member of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church Pension Fund.
In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Robinson has received honorary degrees from twelve colleges and universities including Voorhees and St. Augustine’s, Shaw University, Cuttington University in Liberia, the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, Columbia University in New York City, and NC State University. He was a Fulbright Fellow to India in 1965. He has received myriad awards from civic and governmental bodies, including Liberia’s Star of Africa, and the title of President Emeritus from the Board of Trustees of Saint Augustine’s College. He was selected by BellSouth as one of the twelve most outstanding African-American natives of South Carolina in 1998, and received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Boards of Education.
Upon Robinson’s retirement from the NC Board of Education, the organization renamed its Challenge Scholars Program in his honor. The Prezell R. Robinson Scholars Program encourages high school students to consider careers in education, an enduring tribute to Dr. Robinson’s legacy of leadership in education.
“Stress….what’s that? It’s spelled L-I-F-E.”
Broadcasting pioneer and matriarch of Capitol Broadcasting Company Louise “Scottie” Scott Stephenson is to Raleigh broadcasters what Amelia Earhart is to aviators.
A native of Goldsboro, Scottie Stephenson graduated from Broughton High School and took classes at NC State University. She began her career at Capitol Broadcasting Company in 1944 as receptionist, secretary and record librarian for what was then WRAL-AM Radio. She quickly became an integral part of the company, handling tasks ranging from writing advertising copy and collecting daily birth announcements for Fred Fletcher’s “Tempis Fugit” to fielding calls from listeners and balancing the books.
In an era and a profession dominated by men, she was the only woman on the five-person team to gain the first VHF television license in Raleigh. She prepared the 3,000 pages of application documents, testified before the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, DC,
and was there every day of the seventy-five day hearing. The license to operate Channel 5 was granted, and the station went on the air on December 15, 1956. Stephenson’s exhibits for the FCC became an industry model for aspiring license applicants, who flocked to Raleigh to examine the fruits of her labors.
Scottie Stephenson was the first employee on WRAL-TV’s payroll and worked for CBC fifty-eight years, longer than any person in the history of the company, including founder A. J. Fletcher. She sat on the CBC Board and served as Corporate Secretary for CBC and its subsidiaries for forty-nine years.
Stephenson excelled as a civic leader, working hard as an advocate for the arts and the underprivileged. She served sixteen years on the board of the Tammy Lynn Center, chaired the Communications Committee of the Raleigh Junior Women’s Club, and was a valued volunteer for the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and the NC Symphony. She coordinated the Raleigh Golden Age Club’s annual Christmas luncheon for over four decades and saw that luncheon grow from fifty to over 1,500 people. She was a key figure in the AJ Fletcher Foundation, impacting hundreds of lives through support for education, the arts, health care and human services. She was devoted to helping young people through educational scholarships and mentoring.
She was recognized for her contributions as the first recipient of the Junior Women’s Club’s Outstanding Working Member Award, and by the YWCA Academy of Women as Business & Professional Woman of the Year in 1992. She was recognized in Business Leader’s Impact 100 List for her role in Triangle broadcasting, and Senator Jesse Helms read a tribute to Stephenson into the Congressional Record. Capitol Broadcasting Company created a lasting memorial in her honor by naming the Louise “Scottie” Stephenson Amphitheatre at the Raleigh Little Theatre.
Stephenson never stood in front of or behind a camera, but she was as integral to Triangle broadcasting as the signal that went out over the air. She played a key role in paving the way for the television market in the Triangle today.
For over five decades, Dr. Banks C. Talley Jr. has shaped the cultural life of Raleigh through his leadership at NC State University, the North Carolina Symphony, Preservation North Carolina, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Talley came to NC State in 1951 as assistant dean of students, and later became Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Over three decades, Talley transformed cultural curricula and arts programming at the university. Under his stewardship, music and the visual arts flourished. He helped start the Crafts Center, Thompson and Stewart theatres, as well as leadership and study-abroad programs. He led the creation of the Friends of the College performing arts series, which brought world class artists to NC State students and the North Carolina arts community.
Even after retirement, Talley returned to NC State to help launch ARTS NC STATE, which folded the University’s six visual and performing arts programs together under one banner. He was a key leader in the establishment of the ARTS NC STATE Board of Advisors, and helped build substantial increases in its endowment.
Similarly, the North Carolina Symphony – where Talley served as board member, executive director, and finally as Foundation trustee – enjoyed dramatic growth in programming and financial stability under his leadership. During his tenure as executive director, Talley expanded the Pops and Classical Series, and inaugurated the Summerfest Series. He faced the challenge of deep decreases in state funding by raising increased private support.
Talley is also known for his leadership in historic preservation at the local, state and national levels. Preservation North Carolina has enjoyed his participation as supporter, board member and staff. During the 1970s and ‘80s, he served in various roles on the board, including President. He was instrumental in creating and implementing a long-range plan that led to the nation’s first statewide revolving fund for historic preservation. In the 1990s, he served the organization as one of its Directors of Development. In more recent years, he has managed a successful annual tour program. In appreciation of his many contributions, Talley was named a Director Emeritus of Preservation North Carolina.
Talley also rendered important service to the North Carolina Museum of Art.
In 1998, NC State University acknowledged Dr. Talley’s profound impact on the University and the arts community at large by naming its student center in his honor. He has also been recognized as a recipient of the North Carolina Award for Public Service.
Though retired, Banks Talley remains a force in North Carolina’s arts community. Meanwhile, Raleigh’s cultural resources are still building on the foundations he laid for their success.
Wilbert Allen “Pete” Wilder distinguished himself as a talented athlete, gifted journalist, and community leader, and as a religious educator, businessman, and historian. He is also celebrated as a humanitarian who spoke eloquently for those who could not speak for themselves.
Pete Wilder graduated at sixteen from the first class of Raleigh’s Washington High School. He went on to study journalism at Shaw, New York, and Fordham Universities. Wilder played baseball at Shaw, and later pitched professionally in the Negro Leagues.
His career spanned a wide range of endeavors, including professional baseball player, journalist, private business owner, and housing resource specialist. As a journalist, he delighted generations of readers through his column Pete’s Pickin’s in The Carolinian. As founder and operator of an industrial cleaning business, he is remembered for hiring and mentoring many of the local high school kids. Some of his most profound contributions, however, were made through his work as a housing resource specialist.
In this role, Wilder was unmatched in his skill at locating resources to improve the housing conditions of the elderly. His knowledge of Wake County and his ability to communicate effectively led to unprecedented support for Wake County’s elderly population. He was well known in the halls of government, where he spent untold hours working on behalf of all people. In 1986, he gained the ear of a member of the NC General Assembly and secured earmarked funds for senior citizens in Wake County through the Wake County Council on Aging, Inc. Wilder never ceased in his advocacy for others, working in City of Raleigh’s Community Services Department until his retirement in 2008.
Wilder also served the community through his membership in Phi Beta Sigma, through thirty years as registrar and judge at Precinct 01-26, and as Chapter President of the AARP. He was a highly sought speaker at church, civic, and historical gatherings, and shared wisdom and inspiration for eighty years as a religious educator. He was a devout member of St. Matthew AME Church.
In recognition of his many accomplishments, Wilder received St. Augustine’s College’s Horatio Alger Award, the Elk Man of the Year award, and was inducted into the World Hall of Fame for Black Athletes. He was inducted into the Shaw University Athletic Hall of Fame twice, once with his son Rev. Bernard Wilder as the first father/son honorees. The United Church for All People celebrated his life through “Pete Wilder Day.” He was recognized at the African American Commemorative Banquet as an African American Trail Blazer, and honored at the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association Ashanti Awards Banquet, the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Carolinian, and the WTVD Minority Advisory Committee Awards Luncheon. At the age of eighty-seven, he pitched the first ball at Carolina Mudcats Stadium.
Throughout his long life, Pete Wilder was known and respected in the black community and the community at large. He will always be remembered for his tireless efforts to help others, particularly those who need it most.
An award-winning author, playwright and actor, and iconic founder of Theater in the Park, Ira David Wood III has been the driving force in establishing Raleigh as a national model for local theatre.
Ira David Wood III was raised in Enfield, NC, where he became his hometown’s first Eagle Scout. A graduate of the NC School of the Arts, he spent summers in the lead role of Sir Walter Raleigh in The Lost Colony. Upon graduation, he became the first Theatre Arts Consultant for the Department of Public Instruction. Wood came to Raleigh in 1971 to direct the Children’s Theatre of Raleigh, where he immediately set about the task of broadening the organization’s scope.
Wood found a home for the Children’s Theatre of Raleigh in the North Carolina Armory Building in Raleigh’s Pullen Park, and changed its name to Theatre in the Park. He initiated dynamic outreach programming that has been adopted
by many local theatre organizations, and spent thousands of hours teaching and promoting the arts to Raleigh’s citizens. The Shakespeare in the Park series created a resurgence of interest in the plays of William Shakespeare, and a rich range of productions light the stage each season. Under Wood’s leadership as Artistic and Executive Director, Theatre in the Park has grown to become one of the largest and most influential community theatres in the state.
When Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium sat largely unused and undervalued, Wood produced the first series of theatrical productions on its stage, beginning a process of public rediscovery that resulted in the renovation and expansion of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. He produced the 2005 Gubernatorial Inaugural Gala, and directed the Opening Ceremonies of the 1987 United States Olympic Festival.
As an artistic ambassador for Raleigh, David has cultivated good will and artistic exchange between Raleigh and its Sister Cities in England and France. An award-winning playwright, Wood’s works have been produced by theatres throughout the nation. An expert on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he was a contributing writer for The Murder in Dealey Plaza.
Though his list of theatre, film, and television acting credits is extraordinary, David is perhaps most beloved for his annual portrayal of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in his own musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Now in its 36th year, the production is now cited as one of the most successful shows in the history of North Carolina theatre.
In recognition of his many contributions, Wood received the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, and is the only two-time recipient of the Raleigh Arts Commission’s Medal of the Arts. The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously to rename the NC Armory facility the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre. He is consistently voted ‘Best Local Actor’ in public opinion polls.
For over four decades, Ira David Wood III has contributed abundantly to our city. We are fortunate that he chooses to call Raleigh his home.
In the heart of the Great Depression, members of the Raleigh Junior Chamber of Commerce were spurred to action by the dire needs of the poor. They organized a button sale to raise money for food for the needy during the holidays. This program, dubbed “Goodfellows,” is now the longest running Jaycee project in the world. Now fueled by sales of Christmas trees, an annual haunted house and other fundraisers, Goodfellows delivers holiday cheer to disadvantaged children through holiday meals, festive activities, gifts, and a shopping trip for clothing and essentials.
This award-winning program is only one example of the quality, impact, and staying power of the Raleigh Junior Chamber of Commerce, better known as the Raleigh Jaycees.
The Raleigh Jaycees have been a force in the Raleigh community for over 75 years. Initially an all male organization, the Raleigh Jaycees expanded in 1984 to include women. The chapter now has a thriving membership of young men and women from various personal and professional backgrounds who orchestrate over 100 projects a year. These projects address myriad needs within the community, beginning with service to the disadvantaged, but ranging to political action, advocacy for city parks, sports and fitness activities, animal welfare initiatives, support for health care and leadership development.
On the political front, Raleigh Jaycees were the driving force in changing Raleigh’s system of government from a highly politicized city commissioner system to the more efficient city manager system. In 1952, the Raleigh Jaycees spearheaded the expansion of the neighborhood parks system, convincing the city to purchase and develop what is now Jaycee Park. The Jaycee’s turkey shoot at the NC State Fair, begun to raise funds to build Jaycee Park, is now the Fair’s longest running game. The Raleigh Jaycees have built playgrounds, brought the Protect our Nation’s Youth (PONY) softball tournament back to Wake County, funded the initial feasibility study for the NC Zoo, held spay/neuter and pet training clinics, facilitated the Miss North Carolina Pageant, and supported a range of health care facilities and initiatives.
Through every aspect of its service, the Raleigh Jaycees manifest their commitment to leadership development. While the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership program is an excellent example, every project is designed to allow members to cultivate leadership abilities in a supportive environment.
In recognition of its continued excellence, the Raleigh Jaycees received the 2009 John Kiger Memorial Award, presented to the North Carolina Jaycee chapter that best demonstrated outstanding commitment to membership development, community impact and financial management. Other 2009 awards included Project of the Year, First Place in Business Development, and the First Place Award for Youth Activities for the Goodfellows Program. In 2008, they were recognized with the award for Best Community Development Programming of any Jaycee Chapter in the Nation.
In pursuit of their mission to develop leaders through community service, the Raleigh Jaycees have helped to create the Capitol City we know today. Today, their legacy of service lives on in the work of the diverse and talented men and women comprising the club’s current membership.
Mother Theresa of Calcutta said that the true measure of a community’s compassion is the way it cares for its residents who are sick and dying. If that is the case, the City of Raleigh has been fortunate to measure its compassion over the past 30 years by the unyielding dedication of the board members, staff, and volunteers of Hospice of Wake County.
Hospice of Wake County (HOWC) was founded in 1979 by local physician and current Raleigh Hall of Fame member Dr. William M. Dunlap and nurses Kathleen Townsend and Derenda James to provide compassionate end-of-life care for patients and their families. At the time, HOWC was the first organization of its kind in Raleigh and among the very first in the United States. It was part of a new movement that revolutionized care for dying patients and their families. In 2010, HOWC is still the only non-profit hospice based in Wake County.
From the beginning, the challenges were many, including the need to educate medical professionals and the community about this novel concept in patient care, and lean times when Medicare and insurance companies did not cover hospice services. For the first eleven years of its existence, the organization did not bill patients, relying instead on community support. HOWC successfully met each of those challenges through the persistence of its founders and other physicians, and through the valiant efforts of staff and volunteers who worked hard to educate the community, raise funds, and advocate successfully for Congressional approval of a hospice Medicare benefit.
When HOWC welcomed its first patient in 1979, the staff consisted of one paid staff member and 20 volunteers. Today, the organization has a staff of more than 200 employees and over 400 volunteers. It cares for an average of 280 patients daily, and served 2,443 hospice patients in 2009. In addition, in keeping with its initial pledge never to turn away any eligible patient for financial reasons, the agency still generates eleven percent of its annual budget from public support. In January of 2010, Hospice of Wake County opened the area’s first free-standing hospice facility, and continues to develop new programs to serve terminally ill patients and their families.
The recounting of impressive numbers, expanding facilities and programs gives only a hint of the potent impact that this organization has on those it serves. Its greatest impact is reflected in the solace it gives to patients and their families. A member of a patient’s family shared: “I am comforted when I look back knowing that we did everything we could. It was all made possible by Hospice of Wake County. Whenever there was insecurity on our part, those ‘hospice angels’ were there.”
As it continues to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care to those living with an advanced illness, their caregivers and those who have lost a loved one, Hospice of Wake County enriches our community as it fulfills its vital mission to empower individuals, families and communities to embrace meaning at end of life.