Mourning the passing of a leader

Jun. 18, 2013 @ 04:37 AM

Ed. note: Biographical information was used from the Associated Press and from the Office of Gov. Pat McCrory


The State of North Carolina is mourning the passing of a leader today.

Monday morning, former Gov. James Holshouser passed away at the age of 78.

Over the course of his political career, Holshouser had many milestones.

In 1972, the native of Boone was the first Republican elected to the state's highest office since 1896 and made history again by appointing the first woman to a cabinet-level post by naming Grace Rohrer as the Commissioner of the Department of Art, History and Culture.

But, what Holshouser is most remembered for is his dogged fight for our state's education.

According to a story from the Associated Press, one of the first actions he did when he took office was to modernize and consolidate the state's university system by creating the University of North Carolina Board of Governors — which remains a strong placeholder of university policy today.

He was also instrumental in creating the first statewide enrollment process for kindergarten students.

Holshouser was also a champion of rural residents of the state by establishing clinics in rural areas not served by local physicians.

And, his ability to work with both sides of the political aisle was noted, even upon the announcement of his passing.

"Jim was such a good man and I've long admired his ability to work with Democrats and Republicans," said U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina, in a statement. "His moderate, consensus-building approach made him an effective leader who brought health clinics to underserved areas, bolstered our public education system and backed important legislation to protect our environment."

His educational exploits carried over even after he left office in 1977.

In 1979, he was elected to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina and eventually earned emeritus status.

He also spearheaded a $50 million fundraising campaign for Davidson College and helped raise $12 million for St. Andrews College.

In 1997, Appalachian State University established the James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professor of Ethics chair in the Walker College of Business.

Most recently, Holshouser served on the transition team for Gov. Pat McCrory.

"North Carolina is a better place because of his leadership and heart," McCrory said Monday in a statement.

And, House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, might have said it best:

"Today our state lost one of its greatest sons, but Gov. James Holshouser will be remembered and respected for generations to come."

Our thoughts and prayers go to the Holshouser family and we hope his legacy will provide for a better North Carolina.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark