Jesse Helms Timeline
Oct. 18, 1921 – Born in Monroe, N.C.
1938 – Attends Wingate Junior College for one year.
1939 – Moves to Raleigh and attends Wake Forest College while working for the News & Observer. Leaves school later in the year to work full time at the newspaper.
1942 – Enlists in the Navy and serves as a recruiter until the end of World War II. Marries Dorothy Coble.
1945 – Daughter Jane is born.
1948 – Becomes news director of WRAL radio station.
1949 – Daughter Nancy is born.
1950 – Aids conservative Democrat Willis Smith in his campaign for U.S. Senate and moves to Washington, D.C., as one of Smith's top staff members.
1953 – Returns to Raleigh after Smith dies in office and is named executive director of the North Carolina Bankers Association.
1957 – Elected to the Raleigh City Council, serving until 1961.
1960 – Named executive vice president of WRAL-TV and becomes well known in eastern North Carolina for his nightly editorials.
1962 – Adopts 9-year old Charles, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
1970 – Switches to Republican Party.
1972 – Defeats Democratic Congressman Nick Galifanakis for U.S. Senate seat, becoming the first Republican elected to the Senate from North Carolina in the 20th century.
1973 – Creates the Congressional Club to help raise funds to pay off his campaign debts and later uses its direct-mail fundraising techniques to generate money for conservative causes and candidates nationwide.
1976 – Helps rejuvenate the floundering presidential campaign of former California governor Ronald Reagan, setting the stage for Reagan to win the presidency in 1980.
1978 – Wins re-election by defeating North Carolina Insurance Commissioner John Ingram.
1981 – Named chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
1984 – In the most expensive Senate race to date, defeats North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt in a bitter battle to win a third term in the Senate.
1988 – Wingate University dedicates Jesse Helms Center, which includes a repository of his official papers and educational programs.
1990 – Defeats former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt for re-election in a Senate campaign dominated by racial politics.
1995 – Named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
1996 – Defeats Gantt for a second time to win a fifth term in the Senate.
2001 – Announces he won't seek re-election in 2002.
2003 – Retires to Raleigh.
2005 – Jesse Helms School of Government opens at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
July 4, 2008 – Dies in Raleigh at age 86.