Raleigh, N.C. — Zebulon D. Alley, a former lawmaker and one of the best known lobbyists in state, died Thursday, according to House Speaker Thom Tillis. He was 84.
Alley was known as always having a kind word for friends and acquaintances, even in the business of politics, which can be rough and tumble. He also served as a mentor to many who work in and around the legislature.
"Zeb Alley gave me my first job as a lobbyist and taught me everything I know – but only half of what he knows – about this business," said Ken Melton, a lobbyist who now runs his own firm. "As great as that opportunity was, it never exceeded the real gift he shared with me – being able to call him friend.
"He was always there for any of his 'guys,' whether we still worked for him or not, and always stressed for us to look out for each other. We were family. He changed my life in a way that's hard to put into words, and we will miss him every day."
Both the House and Senate took note of Alley's passing Thursday, a sign of the respect lawmakers held for the friendly and courteous fixture of the legislative building.
Alley served in the Senate during the 1971 session. He also served on the North Carolina Board of Alcohol Beverage Control and as legislative counsel for Gov. Jim Hunt from 1980 through 1984.
Alley, a lawyer and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, had his own lobbying and consulting firm for more than 20 years before joining Nelson Mullens.
He was also a veteran, having served in the Korean war with the U.S. Army. Alley earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.