Group picture

Biographies and video tributes for our 2012 inductees:

J. Allen “Al” Adams

J Allen Adams Through a long career in law, public service, and civic leadership, Al Adams has been a powerful advocate for equality and justice, arts and education, and cultural institutions serving the City of Raleigh and the State of North Carolina.

Al Adams emerged as a leader at UNC’s School of Law as a member of the NC Law Review, and then as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

As a young attorney, Adams was Secretary of the Wake County Bar, and later a committee chair on the N.C. State Bar Association. During the Civil Rights movement, he advocated for African American attorneys and integration of the Wake County Bar Association. He was a partner in Sanford, Adams, McCullough & Beard, one of the first firms in Raleigh to hire African American and women lawyers. The NC Community Action Association recognized his pro bono work for underrepresented citizens with their prestigious Gloria Williams Award.

Adams served with distinction for five terms in the NC House of Representatives, where his advocacy for education laid the groundwork for North Carolina’s educational achievements in the 1980s and 1990s. He championed increases in funding to the NC Arts Council that supported both major public installations and local grass roots organizations. Adams was consistently rated as one of the most effective legislators, and later, as one of the state’s most influential lobbyists. As a lobbyist, he helped secure funds for the NC Museum of History and other cultural cornerstones of our state.

His civic contributions are no less profound. As first Chairman of the Wake County Public Libraries Board, Adams presided over the merger of white and African American libraries to form today’s Wake County Public Library System. As a founding member and Chair of the Estey Hall Foundation at Shaw University, he helped preserve the nation’s first historic structure built for African American women. He was instrumental in founding the Arts Advocates of NC, the Clarence Lightner Youth Leadership Endowment, and the Martin Luther King Resource Center. He chaired the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission, and served on the boards of the NC Symphony Society, Raleigh City Museum, NC Child Advocacy, Opera Company of North Carolina, Wake Technical Community College Foundation, and the Raleigh Civil Service Commission. He was Wake County Democratic Party Chair, and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Adams has been a longtime advocate for his alma mater – the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – serving as Chairman of the Board of Visitors and a member of the UNC General Alumni Association.

In recognition of his many contributions, UNC awarded Al Adams its Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding service to the Alumni Association and the University. Other commendations include the Governor’s Award, North Carolina’s highest recognition for meritorious service, NC Child Advocacy’s Tribute of Appreciation, and the Chief Justice Joseph Branch Professionalism Award, the Wake County Bar Association’s highest honor.

Representative Adams’s abilities, passions and sustained commitment have enriched cultural and educational resources, advanced social justice, and made Raleigh a better place to live. His good works will continue to improve the lives of North Carolinians for generations to come.

Watch J. Allen Adams’ video tribute here.

Carol Williams Bilbro

Carol Bilbro
A Raleigh native and a passionate and effective advocate on behalf of the arts, health and education, Carol Williams Bilbro is among the most significant civic leaders serving the City of Oaks.

Her leadership abilities emerged early when she served as Ambassador for our city as Miss Raleigh and as NC Maid of Cotton. After Broughton High, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Duke University and was President of the Junior Class & Kappa Delta Sorority.

Carol taught at Durham’s Jordan High and later at Ravenscroft School. She was a choir director, piano teacher, and Human Resource Consultant who soon became one of Raleigh’s pivotal community leaders.

A powerful advocate for children, Carol served on the Tammy Lynn Board and Wake Education Partnership. As Founder of United Way’s Youth Leadership board, she encouraged leadership training and community service.

Carol’s enthusiasm for the arts made her President of the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and board member of Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Raleigh Conservatory of Music and Wake County Arts Council. She developed an art appreciation course for elementary school students and chaired the Opera in the Schools program. She was president of Broughton Music Boosters and pianist for Broughton Show Choir. For nine years, she served as trustee for the NC Symphony and chaired its Bryan International String Competition.

Health care has been another theme of Carol’s community impact. On Wake Teen Medical Services Board, she ensured access to professional counseling and health care. She also served on the boards of Wake County’s Medical Alliance Foundation and Rex Hospital Foundation, chairing the Rex Centennial Gala.

Known for diplomacy and diligence, Carol was President of the Junior League of Raleigh and the first female on the YMCA of the Triangle Board. Carol also provided leadership for The Healing Place of Wake County, chairing its Courtyard Development Committee and serving on the Advisory Board for The Healing Place for Women. As a Peace College trustee she was Vice-Chair of the board and chaired the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Carol is devoted to Triangle Community Foundation, serving on its board and now on its Leadership Council as immediate past chair. She is currently a trustee for Glenaire Retirement Community and serves in myriad roles at White Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Her honors include YWCA Academy of Women Award, Business Leader’s Impact 100 Award, Leadership Raleigh’s Distinguished Leader of the Year, and Wake County Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Carol’s leadership and organizational skills have contributed to many aspects of our city’s development: addressing needs of youth and seniors; defining health and wellness issues; advocating for the arts; improving education; fostering philanthropy and serving her faith community. Carol Williams Bilbro’s energy, passion and commitment continue to touch countless lives throughout the Raleigh community.

Watch Carol Bilbro’s video tribute here.

Dr. Robert Hodges Bilbro

Robert Bilbro
Dr. Robert Hodges Bilbro is hailed as a visionary physician and spokesperson for Raleigh’s disenfranchised. His contributions have touched virtually every area of community service in Wake County.

Dr. Bilbro’s commitment to excellence and leadership were evident in his college years at the University of North Carolina. He was a Morehead Scholar, co-captain of the swimming team, President of his medical class and the medical student body, and was honored with the prestigious MacNider Award. After graduation, he served in Korea as a Captain in the medical corps of the U.S. Army, and returned for a Cardiology Fellowship at Duke University.

In 1972, Bilbro accepted the challenge to establish the Area Health Education Centers and UNC Medical Teaching Programs at Wake Memorial Hospital. In 1973, he initiated Doctors Bilbro, Dunlap and Eure where he practiced internal medicine and cardiovascular disease. That practice has evolved to become Raleigh/Cary Medical Group, now employing 33 physicians and a staff of over 150. His many professional contributions include service as President of Medical Staff at Wake Medical Center, thirteen years on the Legislative Cabinet of the NC Medical Society, and chairmanship and tireless service on numerous committees that advanced medical care in our city and state. As co-founder of the Carolina Physician’s Health Plan, he guided the company’s expansion to become the largest HMO in the state, Healthsource North Carolina. He initiated cardiac rehabilitation in Raleigh and was one of the pioneers in North Carolina for getting patients to exercise after having had a heart attack.

Bilbro’s civic contributions include service as a volunteer physician for Raleigh’s Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic and Alliance Medical Ministries. He chaired the Task Force for Re-Engineering Human Services of Wake County, which led to the consolidation of Human Services Wake County. Out of that reorganization came a task force on the problems of homelessness that led to the establishment of The Healing Place.

Bilbro served his alma mater through the UNC National Development Council, Board of Visitors, Alumni Council, Athletic Council, and Institute for Arts & Humanities. He served on the boards of the Community Learning Center and Raleigh Housing Authority Scholarship Fund, and as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Bilbro currently works part-time with Community Care of North Carolina, where he serves as Associate Medical Director of Community Care of Wake and Johnston Counties.

Dr. Bilbro and his wife, Carol, continue their advocacy for The Healing Place, where he served as a founding trustee, later Chair of the Board of Directors, and continues working in the medical clinics there which he started in 2001.

In 2009, Bilbro was named Rex Hospital Distinguished Physician of the Year, and inducted into North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his achievements as a caring physician for thousands of patients and as an outstanding citizen of Wake County. With amazing problem-solving skills, creative leadership abilities, and strong commitment to his community, Robert Hodges Bilbro truly lives his life in the service of others, using his extraordinary talents to make a positive difference in our city and state. Raleigh is a better place to live because of Dr. Bob Bilbro’s leadership.

Watch Dr. Robert Bilbro’s video tribute here.

Ralph Edwards Capps

Ralph Edward Capps
Through visionary leadership as Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County, Ralph Capps has served Wake County’s youth with selflessness, compassion and dedication for nearly forty years.

After beginning his career in Chattanooga, Ralph moved to Raleigh in 1973 to become Executive Director of the Raleigh Boys Club. The Raleigh Boys Club had approximately 200 members and one building on Lane Street. Today, seven full-service clubs serve more than 4,200 young people each year through the organization now known as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County.

For almost four decades of dedicated service, Capps has counseled, disciplined, fed, educated, medically treated and trained children of every age, race and creed. Educational programs have helped thousands attain their high school diplomas, with a graduation rate of almost 100% for students who have been club members for four or more years. Even after graduation, Capps stays in touch and encourages club members in their continued growth and development.

A role model for club staff, Capps sets a high standard for hard work while creating a supportive environment that promotes professional development. Many have moved on to leadership positions in other clubs. He provides exemplary leadership for the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Board of Directors, who routinely praise his vision, commitment and dedication.

Though laser-focused on the youth of Raleigh, Capps’ reach extends far beyond the Capitol City. Throughout the state, clubs are led by professionals mentored by Capps, affectionately known as the “godfather” of Boys & Girls Clubs in North Carolina. He is a sought-after presenter at regional and national conferences, and a valued advisor to club directors nationwide.

In addition to countless hours of service to Raleigh’s youth, Capps is a respected member of the Wake County United Way Agency Executive Council. He dedicates time each year to inspire others with examples of the powerful difference the United Way makes in the community. Capps is an active member of Temple Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon and has led youth and adult Bible studies. He is a member of the Raleigh Civitan Club, and a dedicated supporter of the Tammy Lynne Center, the North Carolina Boys and Girls Home and Ride Without Limits.

Capps has been honored as Tar Heel of the Week by the Raleigh News & Observer. He was the first recipient of the Outstanding Nonprofit Executive Award presented by the Lichtin Family Foundation, and was one of fourteen inaugural recipients of the Triangle Business Journal’s Legacy Leaders Award.

The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those who are in greatest need, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Since 1973, Ralph Capps has served this mission with a steady, consistent, and relentless drive to improve the lives of young people. Ralph Capps changes Raleigh for the better – one young person at a time – day in, day out, year in, year out. His impact will resonate for generations to come.

Watch Ralph Capps’ video tribute here.

Mary Cates

Mary Cates once said that she felt “a religious and patriotic commitment to be a steward of the public good in Raleigh.” The city we enjoy today continues to benefit from her sense of commitment.

A Greensboro native, Mary Cates came of age during World War II, worked as a Red Cross volunteer and studied business. After the war, she married David Cates and the young couple made Raleigh’s Beckanna-Coley Forest area their home.

It was there that Mary Cates first showed her prowess in working with city administration “to get things done.” When the neighborhood flooded, she coordinated among all residents in the watershed, NC State University experts and city officials to address storm water management. Her leadership resulted in broad public education and lasting changes in the city’s watershed policies.

Cates helped pioneer Raleigh’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) network, and served as chair of the Glenwood CAC. She served as Raleigh Chair, presiding over eighteen CAC districts, and grew to be respected as a wise mediator. In 2012, the Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council presented Cates with its Neighborhood Recognition Award honoring individuals, organizations and institutions for significant contributions to neighborhoods across Raleigh.

Through the CACs, Cates developed broad interest in and knowledge of the city, and further honed the considerable skills she brought to her next chapter of public service. She won a seat on Raleigh’s City Council, where she set a high standard for vision, courage, tenacity and integrity. While known as a neighborhood champion, the development community came to appreciate her ability to listen to both sides of any issue, and then lead toward balanced solutions that served the best interests of the city.

During five terms on the City Council she championed parks, greenways, environmentally sound zoning and management of storm water. With Cates’ leadership, Raleigh’s greenway system received national recognition. The city became a leader in storm water management, and protection of the Falls Lake watershed helped secure Raleigh’s water supply. Her ability to mediate divergent groups calmed controversy and helped lead to the construction of the sports and entertainment arena. The high level of respect Cates engendered was affirmed when she was selected to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore from 1987-1989. Cates represented Raleigh on the Triangle J Council of Governments and the NC League of Municipalities boards.

Mary Cates’ ability to connect public and private sectors paid dividends in Raleigh’s nonprofit community as well. She was instrumental in uniting a corps of volunteers to establish the Raleigh City Museum. She founded the Dickens Fair and the Community Music School; the latter, now in its sixteenth year, provides music lessons to Raleigh’s youth for one dollar per lesson.

Cates’ leadership was integral to the establishment of the Raleigh Hall of Fame. Thanks to her vision and hard work, the men and women who built our Capitol City – and those working today to ensure its ultimate potential – are celebrated through induction into the Raleigh Hall of Fame, and commemorated in a permanent exhibit at the Raleigh Convention Center. We are especially proud to count Mary Cates as an inductee into this group of Raleigh’s revered citizens.

Watch Mary Cates’ video tribute here.

Charles Reece (“Charlie”) Gaddy

Charles Gaddy
For more than four decades, Charlie Gaddy has been an icon, a trusted voice, and a force for good in the City of Raleigh. Through his 34-year broadcast career, and through his efforts on behalf of the Triangle community, he has touched and enriched countless lives.

A native of Roxboro, North Carolina, Charlie Gaddy began his career as a floor manager for the David Brinkley portion of the Huntley-Brinkley Report at the NBC Station in Washington, D.C. He moved to Raleigh to anchor the popular WPTF Radio Program, Ask Your Neighbor.

Gaddy joined WRAL-TV in 1970, where he continued to chronicle the highs and lows, triumphs and struggles of the city that became his home. All of Raleigh came to love Charlie. Whether the news was good or bad, people wanted to hear it from Charlie….the voice of truth, integrity, accuracy and compassion.

While Gaddy informed and inspired the people of Raleigh, he also represented her abroad. He anchored Channel 5’s live telecast from Plymouth, England, during the 400th anniversary of the arrival of English voyagers to the New World. He was in Normandy for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, and brought news live from Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and from Honduras with the 82nd Airborne.

Gaddy helped lead WRAL-TV to become one of the finest news stations in the country. At one time, his newscast was the highest-rated local news program in America. Throughout his career, he mentored newscasters and journalists who went on to enrich stations across the nation.

Charlie Gaddy’s accomplishments in civic leadership have been no less remarkable. Whether on the air, on stage as master of ceremonies or in the boardroom, he has had a powerful impact on Raleigh’s civic organizations, particularly those that aid children.

His weekly focus on WRAL’s Wednesday’s Child helped hard-to-adopt children find homes. He spearheaded an on-air drive that netted thousands of coats for children in need.

As master of ceremonies for hundreds of Raleigh events and telethons, Gaddy has raised support for causes including Duke Children’s Miracle Network, families of Gulf War soldiers, and mentoring for at-risk youth supported by the WRAL Partners Auction. Gaddy served as a trustee of the Cued Speech Center, and Vice Chair of the Duke Eye Center Board. The Raleigh Hall of Fame has been honored to count him as its master of ceremonies. Gaddy has raised over $8 million for Easter Seals United Cerebral Palsy (UCP).

In celebration of his leadership, the Easter Seals UCP Child Development Center bears his name. Further recognition includes awards from The Arc of North Carolina, the American Cancer Society, and United Way. He received the International Award for coverage of Hurricane Diana, and the Best in the Nation Award from UPI for North Raleigh tornado coverage. He was inducted into the NC Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and in 1992 received an Emmy for News Excellence.

Today, Gaddy continues to assist Easter Seals United Cerebral Palsy as a fundraiser and advocate, and to bring joy and inspiration to the children it serves. Raleigh is proud to count Charlie Gaddy as one of its brightest lights.

Watch Charles Gaddy’s video tribute here.

Vernon Malone December 20, 1931 – April 18, 2009

Vernon Malone
A towering statesman and community leader for education, good government and wise public investment, Vernon Malone’s legacy lives on in the public institutions he helped establish and enhance.

Vernon Malone was born in 1931 and reared on a small farm outside of Raleigh. He came of age during the era of segregation, and developed a belief that every child, regardless of race, could reach their full potential if given a solid education.

After high school, Malone served in the Army, and completed his education at Shaw University. He taught at Washington Elementary, and then accepted a teaching position at the Governor Morehead School. He served the Governor Morehead School for 34 years, retiring as its Superintendent.

Malone’s public service career began on the Raleigh Parks and Recreational Advisory Committee in 1968. In the decades that followed, he served with distinction on the Raleigh Community Relations Committee, Wake County Commission, Wake County School Board, and the North Carolina Senate.

Among his greatest contributions was guiding the merger and desegregation of the Raleigh and Wake County public schools. As Vice Chairman of the Interim Board of Education, he worked tirelessly to create a climate that allowed Raleigh to avoid the violence children faced in some urban areas. The unified Wake County Board of Education elected Malone as its inaugural chair in 1976.

As Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners and as a State Senator, Malone was equally effective in his work on behalf of the community. He advocated for Meals on Wheels and the Interfaith Food Shuttle, and helped extend library services to underserved neighborhoods. A champion for economic growth, he supported construction of the sports and entertainment arena, and helped bring the National Hockey League and CIAA Tournament to Raleigh.

His civic contributions were no less numerous, including chairmanship of the Wake County Economic Development Commission and Wake County Coalition for the Homeless, Vice Chair of the Shaw University Board of Trustees, and member of the NC State University, Wake Education Partnership, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC Museum of Art, Wake Medical Center, United Way, Wake Coalition 2000 and Salvation Army Boards. He served on the Greater Triangle Regional Council and as a delegate to the Triangle J Council of Governments. He was president of the Raleigh/Wake Shaw University Alumni Association, and an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Martin Street Baptist Church, where he served on the Board of Deacons and Laymen’s League. He was a director of Capital Bank.

A few of Malone’s many honors include St. Augustine College’s Presidential Scroll Award, Garner YMCA’s Outstanding Service Award, Shaw University’s Henry Martin Tupper Humanitarian Service Award, and the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association’s Political Service Award. The joint facility serving Raleigh’s Meals on Wheels and Interfaith Food Shuttle bears his name.

For four decades, Vernon Malone served his community with vision, energy, and wisdom. On July 13, 2009, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a joint resolution honoring his life and expressing the appreciation of the State and its citizens for the service he rendered his community, state and nation.

Watch Vernon Malone’s video tribute here.

Robert L. McMillan, Jr.

Robert McMillan Jr
Robert L. McMillan, Jr. has been a respected member of the Raleigh community his entire life and of the Wake County Bar for over 62 years. A graduate of Broughton High School and Wake Forest College, McMillan served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. After the war, he studied law at the University of North Carolina.

McMillan began his career with his father’s firm of Douglass and McMillan. While awaiting the results of his bar examination, he researched and briefed an appeal to the NC Supreme Court. The brief foreshadowed his later work in the service of justice, quoting Ammianus Marcellinus’s report of Julian Ceasar’s rebuke to his legal adversary Delphidius: If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent? McMillan was admitted to the NC State Bar in 1949 and has practiced law ever since, with time out only to serve during the Korean War.

The young attorney served for three years as Solicitor for the Raleigh Municipal Court, then embarked upon a career in private practice defending the rights of the accused. He abides by his maxim that criminal trial lawyers are the enforcers of the Bill of Rights. Although their efforts may at times be for unsavory people, their efforts are no less important because of the basic and fundamental nature of the rights being upheld.

McMillan has served his profession as founder and former President of the Wake County Academy of Trial Lawyers, President of the Wake County Bar Association and Tenth Judicial District Bar. He served as NC State Bar Councilor representing the Tenth Judicial District for ten years, and is affectionately known as the Dean of the North Carolina Criminal Bar.

McMillan has also served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and respected voice within the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church community. He has served as President of Raleigh Rotary Club, Boy Scoutmaster, and Commander of Raleigh American Legion Post #1. He was a key driver in the creation of the Raleigh Farmers Market, and as Chair of the Raleigh Historic Sites Commission was instrumental in the establishment of Mordecai Square Historic Park.

McMillan is known as a legendary hiker and story teller, a generous mentor, and a wise counselor for colleagues and friends.

He received the Silver Beaver Award from Occoneechee Council of Boy Scouts of America in recognition of service. He is the first recipient of the Joseph Branch Professionalism Award given by the Wake County Bar Association. Some years ago he was inducted into the General Practice Hall of Fame by the North Carolina Bar Association. He was presented the State Bar’s ‘John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award’ in 2011. The Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award for 2011 was presented to him in the name of Chief Justice Sarah Parker of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Burning Coal Theatre production Seventy Years on Salisbury Street was based on his life.

When asked to describe Robert McMillan, Jr., his pastor invoked the words of the prophet Micah, describing him as one who does justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God. Today, Robert L. McMillan, Jr. continues to serve Raleigh as a champion for justice, a compassionate humanitarian and a peerless servant leader.

Watch Robert McMillan’s video tribute here.

Dr. Assad Meymandi

Assad Meymandi
“As Lorenzo de’ Medici supported the arts during the Renaissance in Florence, so has Assad Meymandi supported the arts in Raleigh as it begins its own 21st Century Renaissance.”
– Martha Quillin, August 2004, The News & Observer

A gifted physician, passionate scholar and extraordinary philanthropist, Dr. Assad Meymandi has enriched the cultural landscape and changed lives for the better throughout our city and across the world.

The youngest of nine, Dr. Meymandi was educated in a French Jesuit School in Tehran and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He came to the U.S. in 1955 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Arizona State, and attended medical school at George Washington University. He trained as a psychiatrist, and holds PhDs in biochemistry and philosophy, as well as an honorary doctorate in humanities.

Dr. Meymandi first came to Raleigh in 1961, to spend a few weeks in the lipid laboratory of Duke University, as a part of his PhD dissertation in biochemistry. He fell in love with North Carolina, and returned in 1963 for a residency at Dorothea Dix. He later moved to Fayetteville to serve as director and medical director of the Cumberland County Comprehensive Community Mental Health Program. He is recognized as a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a Life Member of the American Medical Association, and a Founding Fellow of the International Academy for Research in Learning Disability. He serves as an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Meymandi founded and contributes to the Wake County Physician Magazine, dedicated to celebrating medicine, the arts, intellect, ideas, and curiosity.

A lifelong philanthropist, one cannot fully chronicle the impact Dr. Meymandi has had on cultural and academic institutions. Examples include the NC Symphony’s Meymandi Concert Hall, named in memory of his mother, and the NC Museum of Art’s Meymandi Touring Exhibit Hall, a tribute to his father. A nursing scholarship at Cumberland Community College honors his late wife Patricia. He endowed a Distinguished Chair of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine, a Chair at the Sorbonne, and the Meymandi Fellowship at the National Humanities Center.

Dr. Meymandi provides civic leadership on the boards of the NC Arts Council and UNC TV. He has served as President of the NC State University Friends of the Library, and on the vestry of Christ Episcopal Church.

In recognition of his civic and philanthropic contributions, Meymandi received the Citizen of the Year Award from the International Affairs Council, honoring North Carolinians who have done the most for internationalization of our state, and the Raleigh Medal of Art. In 2004, Governor Easley gave Meymandi North Carolina’s highest civilian award, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Governor Perdue celebrated Dr. Assad Meymandi, saying that “Assad’s enthusiasm for knowledge and his generous spirit in supporting and expanding the arts have helped make the Raleigh area and all of North Carolina one of the best places in the nation to live. His philanthropy is creating legacy that will have a profound impact on generations of North Carolinians.”

Watch Dr. Assad Meymandi’s video tribute here.

Sylvia Ruby June 20, 1924 – February 7, 2007

Sylvia Ruby
Sylvia Ruby’s mottos were “make it happen” and “get it done.” For 55 years of service to Raleigh, she lived by these words, providing extraordinary leadership in education, community relations and social services.

Moving to North Carolina in 1947 from her native New York, Sylvia Ruby made Raleigh her permanent home in 1950. She embraced her new community, and soon emerged as a pioneer during an era when few women held high profile roles in civic leadership.

A courageous voice for desegregation, Ruby served on the Wake County School Board that moved from token desegregation to system-wide desegregation of the schools. She is remembered for her advocacy for integrating the county’s professional staff as well as the student population.

Ruby served the children of Wake County in many other ways, including chairmanship of the Youth Services Board of Wake County and the Task Force for Juvenile Services, and exemplary leadership on the board of the Catholic Orphanage of Raleigh.

A role model and mentor for civic leadership among women, Ruby was appointed by Governor Hunt to the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. She was the first woman Vice President of United Way of Wake County. She served tirelessly on the United Way Board for fifteen years, and provided leadership for many United Way committees. She was President of the League of Women Voters from 1965-67.

Ruby chaired and served on the boards of many agencies that arose from United Way, including the Drug Action Committee, Domestic Violence Center, and Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programs. In recognition of her expertise in social services, Governor Sanford tapped her for leadership on the Commission on Health, Family and Welfare Services. She also sat on the board of Catholic Social Services.

As the growth of Research Triangle Park increased the diversity of the region, Ruby played a key role in building bridges of connection, communication, and cooperation. As a member of the Panel of American Women, she spoke before church groups and PTAs about the perceptions and needs of diverse social, ethnic and geographic groups. She also provided leadership on the Raleigh Community Relations Committee.

Ruby served her faith community as principal of the children’s education program at Beth Meyer Synagogue, Treasurer of Wake County Jewish Charities, and leader of the Beth Meyer Sisterhood.

In celebration of her many contributions, Ruby received the NC Association of Jewish Women’s Human Services Award, the United Way of Wake County’s Extraordinary Volunteer Award, and the Silver Circle Award from the League of Women Voters. Governor Jim Hunt presented her with the Governor’s Volunteer Award, and Mayor Bradshaw recognized her with a Certificate of Appreciation for Community Relations. In 1984, she was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women.

For over half a century, Sylvia Ruby devoted her sharp intellect, boundless energy and legendary tenacity to making our city a better place. Her work lives on in the institutions she served, and in those she inspired to work for education, equality, and justice for all.

Watch Sylvia Ruby’s video tribute here.

Kiwanis Club of Raleigh

Kiwanis International
Founded in 1920, the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh is one of the largest and oldest Kiwanis Clubs in the world. The 124 charter members of the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh were a diverse group of men who came together with the common interests of fellowship and community service. They embraced Kiwanis International’s early motto We Build – and its commitment to serving underprivileged children – as their own, and immediately set about building strong services and a better city for the children of Raleigh. Though it is impossible
to list their many initiatives through the years, the following examples illustrate the breadth and reach of their projects.

Focused by their commitment to children, they raised over $50,000 to help fund a Kiwanis Cabin and camperships at Victory Junction, a camp for children with chronic illnesses. They provide holiday gifts for the area’s foster children, and shoes through the Foster Children’s Shoe Program in partnership with Wake County Human Services and Hudson Belk. Kiwanis Club members help with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County’s Christmas party and Fall Festival, and provide financial support for Kiwanis International’s youth initiatives, including $100,000 to the Young Children: Priority One project, and a pledge of $100,000 to The Eliminate Project.

Kiwanis Club provides exceptional leadership development programs for people of all ages and abilities. Their K-Kids Club at Pleasant Union Elementary School brings students in grades 1-5 together to develop leadership potential, foster strong moral character, and to encourage loyalty to school, community, and nation. Their Builders Club at the Franciscan School extends these opportunities to middle school students. Key Club International, the largest high school service organization in the world, promotes the development of initiative, leadership, and good citizenship. Raleigh Kiwanians sponsor Key Clubs at Athens Drive High School and Broughton High School. Kiwanis Club sponsors a chapter of Circle K International at NC State, mentoring college students in service, leadership, career development, and fellowship, and charging them to better the world through projects on campus, in the community, and on a global scale. Through sponsorship of the Aktion Club of Greater Raleigh, Kiwanis Club provides leadership development for adults with disabilities who aspire to share service and leadership within the community.

In addition to their support of children’s initiatives, the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh provides volunteers and funds to other organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen, Urban Ministries of Wake County, and the Salvation Army of Wake County.

As the charitable arm of Kiwanis Club, the Raleigh Kiwanis Foundation deploys their proceeds from the Pancake Breakfast, Kiwanis Foundation Golf Classic Tournament, Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon and member donations to a wide range of local charitable organizations. A few of the many recipients of Kiwanis Foundation grants include the Autism Society, Frankie Lemmon School, Prevent Blindness, SAFEchild, the Tammy Lynn Center, and Triangle Family Services.

As the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh approaches a full century of service, it continues to build on its legacy of community outreach and leadership development. A leader among Raleigh’s service organizations, they provide enduring leadership in support of children’s issues.

Watch the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh’s video tribute here.

Raleigh Host Lions Club

Raleigh Host Lions Club
Established in 1922, the Raleigh Host Lions Club was the second Lions Club in North Carolina. Ninety years later, it remains the largest Lions Club and the largest service organization in North Carolina. Its vibrant programs, providing support for the blind and other Raleigh citizens in need, have been built on a rich history of community service.

From the early 1920s to the late 1940s, the Lions Club treated the city’s underprivileged children to holiday gifts and a visit with Santa. In 1948, it constructed a roller rink for the Methodist Home for Children. In the 1950s, the Lions Club created Lions Park in Downtown Raleigh, later gifting it to the City of Raleigh. Lions Club members still support the park with annual cleanups and sponsorship of Little League teams.

In 1957, the Lions Club began sponsorship of the NC State Championship Horse Show. This prestigious event continues to draw equestrians from across the nation, raising Raleigh’s profile and funds for Raleigh’s less fortunate.

Throughout its history, the Raleigh Host Lions Club has championed the International Lions Club’s mission to serve as “Knights of the Blind” to advance the lives of the blind and visually impaired. Longtime supporters of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, Lions Club members serve as godparents to residential students far away from home; assist with repairs, upkeep and landscaping; fund educational programs and summer camp experiences; and provide transportation, tickets to sporting events, and holiday gifts for the students.

The Lions Club generates funding for eyeglasses, examinations, and corrective surgery for visually impaired citizens who do not qualify for other assistance, and hosts the VIP (Visually Impaired Persons) Fishing Tournament each year. It also supports the Radio Reading Service, and led a host of fundraising projects and events to help fund their work. Lions Club members constructed two homes through Habitat for Humanity, one for the physically challenged.

Their most unique achievement grew from collaboration with the NC Division of Services for the Blind that gave rise to the Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind (RLCB). The RLCB opened its doors in 1968, charged with the mission of providing work opportunities for the blind and visually impaired in Raleigh and Wake County. The first year, it employed 40 employees in an 8,000 square foot facility. In July of 2007, the RLCB moved to a 237,000 square foot building, and employs 278 people in ten locations.

The RLCB produces textiles and product kits, and delivers contact center services for military and other government contracts. Most importantly, it provides stable jobs, work force training and empowerment that allow blind and visually impaired citizens to develop careers, afford homes, and integrate within the greater community. The Raleigh Host Lions Club maintains ownership of this self supporting enterprise, the only clinic initiated by a Lions Club that is owned by a single club.

For almost a century, the Raleigh Host Lions Club has transformed lives among Raleigh’s visually impaired community, and contributed immensely to other people in need. It is a treasured resource for the city and its people.

Watch the Raleigh Host Lions Club’s video tribute here.

Centennial Hall of Fame Inductee Henry Jerome Brown July 24, 1811 – May 12, 1879

Henry Jerome Brown
In 1836, Henry Jerome Brown founded H. J. Brown Coffin House, at the corner of Dawson and Morgan Streets, when the population of Raleigh was less than 2,000. A short two blocks from the State Capitol grounds, Brown provided handcrafted coffins and comfort to Raleigh families in times of grief. His legacy lives on today in Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, the oldest continuously operating business in Raleigh, and North Carolina’s oldest funeral establishment.

Henry J. Brown was born in 1811 in Petersburg, Virginia. The family moved to Raleigh in 1816, and opened their “Windsor Chair Manufactory” business on Hillsborough Street. As a young man, Brown learned the art of fine woodworking from his father, Joel Brown. Brown joined another of Raleigh’s founding families through his marriage to Lydia Lane, a descendant of Colonel Joel Lane. The couple and their two sons, John W. Brown and Joseph Gill Brown, were active members of Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

Brown continued his father’s legacy of producing furniture for the citizens of Raleigh. His handcrafted coffins were created in the finest woodworking tradition, and the family’s furniture was recognized regionally for its artistry. Brown set a high standard for providing care, counsel and craftsmanship that set an enduring standard for service to the citizens of his city.

A leader in business, Brown was a founding member of the Raleigh Mechanics Association, an early trade association supporting Raleigh’s skilled workers.

H. J. Brown Coffin House was one of the few local businesses that survived the Civil War, and Brown played an integral role in the recovery of post-war Raleigh. In 1868, federal troops abruptly ordered the bodies of Confederate soldiers be removed from Rock Quarry Cemetery, deemed a national cemetery. Brown and local citizens relocated 494 bodies to land belonging to Henry Mordecai, which later became Oakwood Cemetery. In 1893, the funeral home handled the transport of the former Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ remains, including public ceremonies at the State Capitol. Today, Brown-Wynne Funeral Home is the only Raleigh business that traces its roots to the antebellum period.

At Henry Jerome Brown’s death in 1879, his son John W. Brown was President of the funeral home. He carried on the tradition of leadership as the first President of the NC Funeral Directors Association. John Brown was followed by his son, Fabius “Fab” Brown. In 1940, Fab Brown’s nephew, Robert W. Wynne, Jr., purchased the business from his uncle’s estate. He built modern facilities at 300 St. Mary’s Street in 1954, and renamed the company Brown-Wynne Funeral Home. Robert W. Wynne, Jr. was succeeded by his son Robert (Bob) W. Wynne, III.

Henry Jerome Brown’s descendants and their families, including Robert W. Wynne, Jr., Robert W. Wynne, III, C.A. Dillon, Sr., and C.A. Dillon, Jr., have continued the tradition of leadership on behalf of the people of Raleigh and the State of North Carolina. Through service as state legislators, civic and business leaders, this remarkable family continues to build on Henry Jerome Brown’s legacy.

Watch Henry Jerome Brown’s tribute video here.