Local/State

Former NC Gov. Bob Scott dies

Friday, January 23, 2009

Former North Carolina Governor Robert "Bob" Walter Scott died early Friday morning, according to his family. He was 79.

Scott had suffered from long-term illness.

According to information released on behalf of his family, the former governor died at 3 a.m. at the Hospice Palliative Care Center of Alamance County.

Friday, Governor Beverly Perdue ordered the state's flags flown at half staff. Former Governor Jim Hunt was not available for interviews but released a statement.

"Governor Bob Scott was part of North Carolina's greatest political family. He was a strong, courageous leader who did big things to build North Carolina's future," he said.

Click here for a photo gallery of Governor Scott from the State Archives

Scott's family released the following statement:

Today, our beloved husband, father and grandfather Bob Scott passed away after a lifetime of public service to the people of North Carolina. We will miss him dearly.

He loved his family, his community and the people of this great state. He was honored to serve North Carolina as lieutenant governor, governor and then as the president of the community college system. He was a steadfast and visionary leader during tumultuous times. Throughout his life, he never stopped caring for people and was a tireless advocate for civil rights, rural communities and education.

We will always remember him for his servant leadership, love of family and North Carolina, sincere compassion and sense of humor.

We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers during this difficult time for us. We also thank you for the kind outpouring of support our family has received throughout the years.

A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27 at Hawfields Presbyterian Church in Mebane.

Scott, the son of NC governor and US senator Kerr Scott was born on June 13, 1929.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jessie Rae Scott; daughters Meg Phipps, Mary Scott, Susan Sutton and Jan Scott; and seven grandchildren, as well as his sister, Mary Kerr Lowdermilk.

Scott attended both Duke University and NC State University. He served in the counter-intelligence corps of the U.S. Army during the Korean War before returning to manage the family dairy farm in Alamance County.

He was an active member of the State Grange and many agriculture organizations and did not have his mind originally set on politics. However, he was persuaded by supporters to run for office and was eventually elected to serve as North Carolina's lieutenant governor in 1964. He was then elected governor in 1968. After being term-limited out of office, he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as the chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission and later became the president of the N.C. Community College System from 1983 to 1995.

He was a visionary leader and a staunch advocate for civil rights, rural communities and education. Among his many accomplishments, his foresight led to the creation of the 16-campus state university system and a reorganization of state departments and agencies.

Scott's personal passion for history led to the preservation of the State Capitol, restoration of the Governor's Mansion, creation of the Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site and many other contributions to North Carolina art, culture and history.

His rural roots allowed him to connect with average citizens despite his family's pedigree. He often remarked he was just as comfortable eating with "barbeque kings" as he was with European royalty. In fact, Scott and his wife hosted the executive mansion's first documented black-tie possum dinner in 1969.

That wasn't the only first for Scott. He appointed the Honorable Sammie Chess, Jr., as the first African-American to serve as a superior court judge. He also forced through the state's first cigarette tax to fund kindergarten education programs.

Although he never sought recognition, Scott was honored with many awards, including the North Carolina Award for Public Service, NC State University's Watauga Award and the North Carolinian Society Award.

For more information on Bob Scott or any other members of the Scott Family, please visit www.scottcollection.org.

Robert Walter Scott Timeline:
1929 -- Scott born in Haw River, N.C.
1951 -- Scott marries Jessie Rae Osborne of Swepsonville, N.C.
1952 -- Scott graduates NC State University with a degree in Animal Industry
1953 -- Scott is drafted into the Army and serves in Japan in the Counter Intelligence Corps
1963 -- Scott is named chairman of the United Forces for Education
1964 -- Scott is elected lieutenant governor of N.C.
1968 -- Scott is elected governor of N.C.
1983 -- Scott is chosen as president of the N.C. community college system
1987 -- Scott receives the University Award from UNC
1994 -- Scott retires as president of the N.C. community college system
2009 -- Scott passes away in Alamance County, N.C.

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