The 2014 class of the Raleigh Hall of Fame includes a strong collection of the city’s recent leaders as well as one of the most controversial politicians in the city’s history.
Joining the class as the Centennial Nominee was William Woods Holden, who published the powerful North Carolina Standard newspaper in Raleigh during the Civil War era.
He opposed secession and, after the Civil War started, believed the South should sue for peace rather than be forced into unconditional surrender. An opponent of the South’s traditional hierarchy, his positions often annoyed many readers, and Georgia troops even sacked his newspaper office in September 1863.
After the war, he sought to restore the Union and worked with federal officials in the Reconstruction era. He ran for governor as a Republican after the war ended, in 1868, and faced enormous challenges as North Carolina suffered from four years of war. He also faced significant enemies in the state legislature and was impeached in 1871 – the only North Carolina governor ever impeached.
He suffered a stroke in 1889, died in 1892 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.
The Raleigh Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Raleigh Convention Center. For more information, including reserving seats, visit www.raleighhalloffame or call (919) 909-2753.
Also named to the Raleigh Hall of Fame on Tuesday where:
Richard “Dick” Daugherty
Through his leadership at IBM, North Carolina State University and throughout the community, Dick Daugherty has positively impacted Raleigh for more than 40 years. Under his direction, the IBM campus in Research Triangle Park (RTP) grew to over 12,000 employees and he helped shape Research Triangle Park into the world-class business and research community it is today. In the 1990s, Mr. Daugherty helped form NCSU’s Centennial Campus into a thriving research campus comprised of students, researchers and businesses. Many Raleigh residents are employed by IBM and other companies in RTP and on Centennial Campus because of his foresight. He has volunteered on many local boards and fundraising campaigns, providing invaluable leadership. Among the many local organizations he has served with include NCSU’s Entrepreneurs Initiative, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Wake Education Partnership, the North Carolina Symphony, Rex Hospital and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
Dr. George C. Debnam
Dr. George C. Debnam has the distinction of being known as the “dean” of African- American physicians in Raleigh. After receiving encouragement from his professors at Shaw University, he decided to become a doctor. In the early 1960s, he founded Debnam Clinic, which is still in operation. By the time he retired after 50 years of practice, he had delivered over 10,000 babies. Dr. Debnam is not only a strong supporter of health care but higher education. He has worked to promote higher education, serving as a trustee at Shaw University since 1964. Dr. Debnam and his late wife, Marjorie, encouraged young African-American men to make good choices and to go to college.
L. Merritt Jones
A Raleigh native, L. Merritt Jones advanced the insurance industry and improved many Raleigh institutions. During his insurance career, he devoted countless hours to the industry outside of his 9-to-5 job. Jones taught insurance classes, served as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Raleigh, and served as a member the Governor’s Insurance Advisory Committee and the City of Raleigh Insurance Advisory Council. However, it is his involvement with many local organizations whether as a leader or working in the trenches that makes Mr. Jones an outstanding citizen. The Raleigh Little Theatre, Hospice of Wake County, the Lions Club, the Methodist Home for Children, the Community Music School and the Raleigh Hall of Fame are just some of the organizations Jones served.
Marjorie Menestres has served the Raleigh community for over 20y ears as executive director of SAFEchild, the first agency devoted to providing direct child abuse prevention services to area families. Under her leadership, SAFEchild’s staff and 250-plus volunteers dedicate countless hours annually toward the prevention of child abuse. The organization provides parenting programs to 900 families and educates local first-graders about “Funny Tummy Feelings.” SAFEchild’s many accomplishments are directly attributed to Menestres’ leadership and vision. Her fundraising skills and vision led to the center moving to its current location in 2002 debt free and the 2009 opening of the SAFEchild Advocacy Center. The center is the first in Raleigh to serve children who have been severely abused physically and/or sexually abused. Menestres has taken a one person agency and grown it into a fourteen member staff and has seen the center’s operating budget grow to $1.2 million.
Steven D. Schuster
Referred to by many as “Raleigh’s architect,” Steven D. Schuster has spent three decades enriching Raleigh through architecture and design. He has been instrumental in Downtown Raleigh’s revitalization through his personal efforts and his company, Clearscapes. His effort to spark revitalization began in the 1980s when he moved his home and company into a downtown industrial building. Mr. Schuster’s many architectural contributions to Raleigh include the Marbles Kids Museum, Artspace, the North Regional Library, Glenwood South’s Pine State Creamery and the Raleigh Convention Center. As a civic leader, he spearheaded the fundraising effort to build the new AIA N.C. Center for Architecture and Design in Raleigh’s Blount Street Commons and held leadership positions in Capital Area Preservation and the Raleigh Historic Properties Commission. Mr. Schuster was recently appointment to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Board of Advisors.
Cornelia Norris McKimmon Trott
After deciding a teaching career was not the career she desired, Cornelia Norris McKimmon Trott went to night school to become a lawyer in the 1930s. In 1938, she passed the state bar examination and was one of only a handful of female lawyers in North Carolina. Ms. Trott became the first woman lawyer to work in the State Attorney General’s Office. In 1948, she left the Attorney General’s Office and became president of what would become Lawyers Title Insurance Company of North Carolina, Inc. In 1948, title insurance was in its infancy. By the time Trott retired in 1973, the company she helped run out of a Cameron Village office handled the majority of the title insurance business in the state and had expanded to Charlotte and Winston-Salem. In addition to being a role model in business, she was an active community member and avid sportswoman. One of the community roles Ms. Trott enjoyed most was providing legal counsel for the Junior League of Raleigh.
William Thaddeus Woodard
Many people know Thad Woodard, a Raleigh native, as the face of “Warmth for Wake.” During Woodard’s 36 years as president of the North Carolina Bankers Association, the association partnered with Wake County to provide heating assistance to those in need in Raleigh and Wake County. In addition, he created the association-sponsored Camp Challenge at Vade Mecum Springs for high-achieving middle school students who are high-risk. Many of the campers are from Raleigh. Outside of the bankers association, Mr. Woodard has served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Wake County and Hospice of Wake County, and is credited with helping both organizations secure the fundraising needed to build their current facilities. Other causes he has lent his talents to over the years include the construction of the Falls of Neuse Dam and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue and Memorial Gardens and to the Raleigh Housing Authority, Clarence E. Lightner Youth Leadership Endowment, and Historic Oakwood Cemetery.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels has provided warm meals to Raleigh’s senior citizens for 40 years. In 1974, the community recognized the need to assist senior citizens to remain in their own homes. This was achieved by forming Meals on Wheels with the assistance of Hillyear Memorial Christian Church and many area faith organizations. In addition to fighting hunger, Meals on Wheels also reduces social isolation among the elderly by providing a daily check-in when the meals are delivered. On February 12, 1974, Meals on Wheels delivered nine meals on its first day of deliveries. By the end of this year, Meals on Wheels will have served 8 million meals in the Raleigh /Wake County area.
Raleigh Fine Arts Society
In 1964, the Raleigh Fine Arts Society (RFAS) began coordinating exhibits of local artists in the basement of an area library. From that point forward, the society has enriched the lives of Raleigh’s citizens through art, music and the written word. In addition to the North Carolina Artists Exhibition, other programs originated by RFAS are the RFAS Literary Contest and the RFAS Choral Celebration. The literary contest is a short-story contest for Wake County high school students in grades 10-12. The Choral Celebration highlights over 1,200 students from area schools over two nights each spring. Most children attending school in Raleigh and Wake County have been touched by the RFAS, either through its sponsored programs or by the organization’s volunteers at local museums.
William Woods Holden
Gov. William Woods Holden is credited with helping to unite North Carolina with the United States after the Civil War and attempting to promote equality for newly emancipated North Carolinians. This proved to be unpopular and would lead to him being the first governor in the country to be impeached, convicted and removed from office. Gov. Holden began his career as a printer and publisher in Orange County. He eventually moved to Raleigh where he continued printing and publishing. In 1846 he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons as a Democrat. Initially he advocated for slavery expansion and Southern Rights but by the time the Civil War began, he supported Union views although he did vote to secede from the Union. After the war he was elected the state's first Republican governor. During his time as governor, he fought for the rights of all North Carolinians which included attempts to suppress the Ku Klux Klan. These attempts would lead to his impeachment, conviction and removal from office by a Democratic legislature. Gov. Holden is remembered as a publisher and politician who worked tirelessly to unite the people of North Carolina within its borders and with the nation.
The Raleigh Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Raleigh Convention Center. For more information, including reserving seats, visit www.raleighhalloffame or contact Laura Isley or Fraley Marshall, event coordinators for Raleigh Hall of Fame 2014, at 919-909-2753.