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Raleigh Hall of Fame honors individuals, non-profits

Posted September 29, 2014

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— Eight individuals and two organizations will be inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame Monday night.

Since 2005, the annual event honors individuals and non-profits nominated by the public and chosen by an anonymous selection committee.

Below are the 2014 inductees, as stated on the hall of fame's website:

Richard “Dick” Daugherty
Through his leadership at IBM, N.C. State University and throughout the community, Dick Daugherty has positively impacted Raleigh for over forty years. Under his direction, the IBM campus in Research Triangle Park 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 he helped form N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus into a thriving research campus comprised of students, researchers and businesses. Many Raleigh residents today are employed by IBM and other companies in RTP and on Centennial Campus because of his foresight. Many believe it is the work Dick has performed as a civic leader that has benefited the community the most. Dick has volunteered on many local boards and fund raising campaigns where his leadership was invaluable. Among the many local organizations he has served are: N.C. State University’s Entrepreneurs Initiative, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Wake Education Partnership, the North Carolina Symphony and Rex Hospital.

George C. Debnam, MD
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 sixties, he founded the well-respected Debnam Clinic, still in operation today, and by the time he retired after fifty years of practice he had delivered over 10,000 babies. He is not only a strong supporter of health care but higher education. George has worked to promote higher education serving as a trustee at Shaw University since 1964. He has tirelessly raised money to help keep its doors open and restore its historic buildings. George and his late wife, Marjorie, encouraged young African-American men to make good choices and to go to college and they even sent several men to college. George still devotes his time to health care and education by volunteering at the Old North State Medical Society and Shaw University.

L. Merritt Jones
L. Merritt Jones, a Raleigh native, has not only made a difference in the insurance industry but his community as well. He is well regarded for advancing the insurance industry and improving many Raleigh institutions. During his insurance career, he devoted countless hours to the industry outside of his nine to five job. Among those hours he taught insurance classes, served as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Raleigh and 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 him 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 Merritt has enriched.

Marjorie Menestres
Marjorie Menestres has served the Raleigh community for over twenty years as the executive director of SAFEchild, the first agency devoted to providing direct child abuse prevention services to area families. Under Marjorie’s leadership, SAFEchild’s staff and 250+ volunteers dedicate countless hours annually towards the prevention of child abuse, provide parenting programs to 900 families and educate local first-graders about “Funny Tummy Feelings.” SAFEchild’s many accomplishments are directly attributed to Marjorie’s leadership and vision. Her fundraising skills and vision led to the center moving to its current location in 2002 debt-free, and in 2009 opening the SAFEchild Advocacy Center, the first center in Raleigh to serve children who have been severely abused physically and/or sexually. She 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 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. Steve’s many architectural contributions to Raleigh include the Marbles Kids Museum, Artspace, the North Regional Library, Glenwood South’s Pine State Creamery and the city’s convention center. As a civic leader, he spearheaded the fundraising effort to build the new AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design in the city’s Blount Street Commons and held leadership positions for Capital Area Preservation and the Raleigh Historic Properties Commission. He was recently appointed 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 bar and was one of only a handful of female lawyers in the state. She 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 and by the time Cornelia retired in 1973, the company she helped run out of a Cameron Village office had 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 she enjoyed most was providing legal counsel for the Junior League of Raleigh.

William Thaddeus Woodard
Many people know Thad Woodard as the face of “Warmth for Wake.” During his thirty-six 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, Thad, a Raleigh native, has served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Wake County and Hospice of Wake County and is credited for helping both to 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, Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue and Memorial Gardens, Raleigh Housing Authority, Clarence E. Lightner Youth Leadership Endowment, and Historic Oakwood Cemetery.

Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels has been providing warm meals to Raleigh’s senior citizens for forty 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, nine meals were delivered on its first day of deliveries. Later this year, Meals on Wheels will serve its eighth million meal 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 the group 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 ten through twelve. The Choral Celebration highlights over 1200 students from area schools over two nights each spring. Most children attending school in Raleigh and Wake County have been touched by the RFAS whether through its sponsored programs or by their volunteers throughout the community at local museums.

Centennial Inductee
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.


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