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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Hodding Carter

Posted June 23, 2009 10:24 a.m. EDT

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?