Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Colorful Carolina Characters

Posted September 7, 2007

Who are your favorite Carolina Characters? These are people who stand apart from the mainstream. With their unique and colorful personalities they know how to make us laugh, think and enjoy life. They're different. They see things from a fresh perspective.

Some would argue that most of the characters are all gone in these days of political correctness and behavior altering medication.

Many of my favorite characters have already passed.  Senator Sam Ervin left a legacy as a brilliant constitutional expert but he was also a marvelous storyteller with an uncanny sense of timing and a photographic memory.

Remember Secretary of State Thad Eure with his bright red bow tie, eloquent expressions and ravenous appetite for wild mountain onions?  He called himself "The Oldest Rat in the Democratic Barn." 

And the Sodfather. Jim Graham was the cigar smoking, donkey kissing and female hugging Commissioner of Agriculture for many years. I miss him, too.

One of my father's best friends was a real character, the late Buster McConnaughey of Red Springs. Buster loved to walk down the street playing his bagpipes and exchange colorful stories with passersby.

My mother's best friend was the bubbly Laura Avery who dated the same guy in Burke County for more than 50 years but never could get around to making a marital commitment.

Present day characters I admire include Ira David Wood whose mischievous brilliance produced the hugely popular “A Christmas Carol,” Rick Dees, my college buddy, whose wild and wacky personality has made him one of the greatest radio stars of all time and Mark Roberts, WRAL's troubadour of traffic, and a man with amazing ability to surprise and delight with his storytelling.

What about you? Who are your favorite Carolina Characters?


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  • J. C. Knowles Sep 10, 2007

    One of my all-time favorite characters was Robert (Bob) Poole. Born in Stoneville, NC in 1916. Broadcaster and humorist. Had a radio show "Poole's Paradise" for 25 years, and consistently maintained the highest audience appeal ratings for any age of any show at WWL in New Orleans and WBIG in Greensboro. He was awarded "America's Favorite Disc Jockey." His closing words at the end of each show was, " Take care of you, for me." He died on January 24, 1978.

  • joey2 Sep 10, 2007

    I agree about the Pettys and Dale. Richard has always been a favorite of mine. At the track or the annual open house at his complex, Richard has time for a word or autograph for everyone. Kyle seems to be just as down to earth. Don't forget Junior Johnson. A character if there ever was one.

  • davidgnews Sep 10, 2007

    I have to add Charlie Harville and Ty Boyd

  • TheDude abides... Sep 10, 2007

    Gotta have the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair! He may have been raised in Minnesota, but he is adamant that NC remain his "home state". A true living legend. How come nobody has said anything about any of the Earnhardts or Pettys?

  • bleslie Sep 10, 2007

    Sonny and Ralph were Arthur Smith's brothers and they were definitely characters.

  • seahunt Sep 10, 2007

    How about Franc White, the Southern Sportsman. With Fracas the dog and the zebra plane. From Greene County.

  • davidgnews Sep 10, 2007

    Re: Arthur Smith - wasn't Sonny his brother? He was good, too.

  • strolling bones Sep 10, 2007

    catfish hunter...

  • Cindy Sep 10, 2007

    How about Jimmy V! Billy Graham, Jesse Helms,& Charles Krault.

  • 4lumbeeheels Sep 9, 2007

    I would say Woody Durham (voice of the Tarheels)and Greg Fishel.




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Bill Leslie