Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Hodding Carter

Posted June 23, 2009

How many of you remember Hodding Carter III? He was a key administration figure during the Jimmy Carter presidency and later a major national commentator. Anyone who followed the Iranian hostage crisis remembers his face. I didn’t realize Carter was working in Chapel Hill these days.

It was a shrimp and grits night at Crooks Corner last Saturday. Seating at the Franklin Street restaurant reminds me of my Morganton kitchen. It’s pretty intimate. The guy sitting just to the left of Cindy looked awfully familiar.

“You’re Hodding Carter, aren’t you?” “You got it.” He graciously brought me up to date on how he was hired four years ago as a Professor of Leadership and Public Policy at UNC. He reminisced about his newspaper roots in Mississippi, his involvement in Jim Hunt’s first quest for political office in 1972, former Judge Chick Riddle of Morganton, and his investment in a small Burke County shopping center.

Hodding confessed to tardiness in handling an assignment. He was asked to contribute a Christmas story as part of a compilation book coming out of Mississippi where he grew up. He was going home that night to finally write the story. It was a poignant family tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation. He shared the story with Cindy and me and we loved it.

He ordered a double latte to energize himself for the assignment. I did the same in his honor. What a pleasure to meet someone so smart, interesting and approachable. I walked out to my car and grabbed a copy of my book and gave it to Hodding and his delightful wife Patt Derian. They seemed to really enjoy my father’s watercolors in the book.


Any similar encounters you would like to share? 


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  • bleslie Jun 23, 2009

    harnettcounty! You make an excellent point. I dread weigh-in tomorrow!

  • harnettcounty Jun 23, 2009

    Well my question is this - shrimp and grits, key lime pie, latte - what happened to 10 lbs down????? Just kidding. Wish I could have had all of those great dishes too!!!

  • thefensk Jun 23, 2009

    I remember him from the Carter administration.

    But my comment strays. Key Lime Pie, Grits, Latte ... what will the morrow bring?

  • bleslie Jun 23, 2009

    Thanks for sharing the stories about Hodding. My good friend Sue Guenther just emailed me to say he was the 2007 graduation speaker at UNC.

    BTW, I met David Brinkley at the 1993 Peabody Awards ceremony in NY. We had a nice chat about NC. What a wonderful gentleman with a unique sense of humor! He and Charles Kuralt were 2 of the best writers in television news and both had Wilmington roots.

  • rmichael2 Jun 23, 2009

    I was working at Duke around 1990 when I met Mr Carter briefly there. I told him I admired his participation on the Sunday morning news show "This Week With David Brinkley", which was one of my Sunday morning rituals, and that it was just about my favorite news program. He said that it was one of his favorites too, and we both spoke of our mutual admiration for David Brinkley. I said that Mr Brinkley was also a North Carolina boy. Mr Carter knew this, and added that Brinkley was from Wilmington.

    Later, I read a little about Mr Carter's father and his pioneering newspaper in Mississippi.

    Good man, good family, good values.

  • lilybell Jun 23, 2009

    I met Hodding Carter years ago -- I think he was hosting a PBS show (I worked for a PBS station at the time). I told him my friend Ralph's theory that Southern women keep the art of conversation alive. He seemed to like that idea. An extremely intelligent and charming man.

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