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Walk of Fame honorees announced

Judge Pace Judge Pace

The Henderson County Walk of Fame Committee this week announced the first class of 17 honorees in the Walk of Fame, figures of importance to the county whose names will be engraved on granite markers in downtown Hendersonville. Here are biographical sketches of the inductees, based on nominations written by nominators and backup material nominators provided.



Jody Barber (1923-2001)

The son of Armitage Farrington Barber Sr. and Percha McCullough Barber, Jody Barber was a creative force behind many improvements in Hendersonville. Originator of the phrase “Open Me First,” which Kodak adopted to promote Christmas sales of cameras, Barber and his wife, Mary D. Barber, collected and made into slides the indispensable photographic history of Hendersonville known as the Baker-Barber Collection. An avid flyer, Barber served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II and later was the first commander of the Civil Air Patrol here. A drum major at Hendersonville High School, Barber played the tuba for the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Hendersonville Community Band. When he died on Jan. 25, 2001, at the age of 77, an obituary praised him as a “historian, lecturer and revitalizer.”

Mary Douglass Barber (1922-2008)

Jody Barber’s lifelong partner, Mary Barber was a gracious and vibrant contributor to the community in her own right. Recruited by Kermit Edney, she broadcast shows on WHKP radio and cohosted the Merry Christmas Shopping Show. The first woman president of the Apple Festival and the only women to serve on the original Downtown Revitalization Committee, Mary Barber was a strong advocate for the flower beds and hanging baskets that would become a hallmark of Main Street. For her work downtown she was awarded a Main Street Champions Award by the North Carolina Main Street program.

Dr. James Steven Brown (1866-1958)

Known as a “founding spirit” of medicine in Henderson County, Dr. Brown exemplified devotion to his patients. Records showed that he delivered 6,547 babies; one was Louise Howe Bailey, who wrote that Dr. Brown was so concerned about babies dying that he set up an infirmary in his home before Hendersonville had a hospital. “This God-fearing man,” nominator Tom Orr wrote, “never refused a house call based on time, place, race, color or creed.” “He was absolutely devoted to all his patients,” Ernestine Nagell said. “He spoiled the little ones, if they were good, with rock candy or peppermint. He treated the ladies with a handful of flowers. If there was a house or barn being built, he’d roll up his sleeves and pitch in. He’d help chop firewood, plow gardens in the spring. You name it, Dr. Brown was there.”

Francis Marion Coiner (lived in Hendersonville from 1951 until his death in 2004)

A native of Newport News, Va., Coiner traveled by train in 1951 from Raleigh to Hendersonville, a town he had never seen. He quickly “felt at home with the apple farmers and packers,” his daughter, Kimberly Coiner Hempen, wrote. For legal work he sometimes accepted fresh apples, collard greens and sweet corn. He became known as a trustworthy attorney and served for 30 years as Hendersonville’s city attorney.

Kermit Edney (1925-2000)

A descendant of the earliest settlers of Henderson County, Edney began work at WHKP in the late 1940s after graduating from UNC at Chapel Hill. Greeting Hendersonville as the “Old Good Morning Man” for more than 50 years, he was also a leader of the N.C. Apple Festival, the revitalization of downtown Hendersonville and the naming and development of Four Seasons Boulevard as a major commercial artery. An avid weather watcher, he kept the weather stats at the WHKP for more than 50 years and wrote “The Weather Book,” a useful guide to weather over the years.

Raymond Robert Freeman Sr. (1912-2002)

Known as Mr. Republican, Mr. News and Mr. Politics, Bob Freeman Sr. presided over the daily deliberations on the issues of the world from his newsstand on Church Street. A newsstand, tobacco shop and barbecue joint, Freeman’s carried newspapers from across the country before the Internet. A behind-the-scenes political kingmaker, Freeman was a key figure in the rise of the local Republican Party. He chaired the GOP from 1958 to 1962, advised political leaders and presided at a smoke-filled backroom where deals were made. “They were never reserved but you could be sure at least one (and likely all the seats) would be occupied by local attorneys of the town,” Kermit Edney wrote in “Where Fitz Left Off.” “It was said that more cases were decided at Freeman’s Newsstand than in the courthouse.”

Don Godehn (died in 2002 at age 83)

Known as Mr. YMCA, Godehn moved to Hendersonville in 1946 and spent 56 years in volunteerism in his adopted hometown and his church. A native of Moline, Ill., Godehn came to the area as a manufacturing executive. He and his wife, Sally, who also was inducted into the Walk of Fame, helped found the YMCA, bringing in UNC football legend Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice to promote the effort. He was among a core of leaders who founded Pardee Hospital Foundation and was also active in the United Way, Hendersonville Rotary Club and First United Methodist Church, serving as a lay leader and in state and national posts.

Sally Godehn (1919-2010)

By the time her husband retired in 1985, Sally Godehn had been deeply involved in volunteerism for 30 years. When she saw injustice, she acted. In the early 1950s, when she became troubled by examples of what she viewed as small-town corruption, she worked for court reform. Recruiting church members, she formed a “court watch” to sit in on trials and let the court know “good citizens were watching.” Similarly, she observed elections fraud in the form of dead people voting and carloads of paid voters dropped off at the polls. Using her old Bell & Howell camera, she filmed polling places. “The shenanigans soon stopped,” her son, Dr. John Godehn, wrote. “Unknown to the operatives, the camera often had no film.” She later served on the Board of Elections and helped start the local League of Women Voters chapter and the Opportunity House. Along with her husband, she also was a founder of the Dispute Settlement Center.

Clyde Shuford Jackson (1907-1995)

The founder of Jackson Funeral Home, Clyde Shuford Jackson sang at more than 1,000 funerals in a lifetime of service that included 12 years as chair of the county Board of Commissioners and the creation of Jackson Park. Originally bought by the county for use as a landfill, the property became a place for picnics, ballfields and children’s play thanks to Commissioner Jackson’s leadership. He was also founding organizer of the county ambulance service, oversaw the relocation of the county library to its current Washington Street home and supported the formation of Blue Ridge Community College. “It would be hard to imagine a county without the EMS, the public library and all the other contributions that Clyde Jackson left,” wrote his granddaughter, Rebecca Jackson McCall. “But, most of all, imagine Henderson County without Jackson Park.”

Ernest L. Justus (died in 1994 at age 94)

Serving the county school system for almost 60 years, Justus led great progress in the schools from the era of one-room schoolhouses to a consolidated system. As one school principal wrote of the longtime administrator, a diploma from Western Carolina University said he was a principal. “Mr. Justus taught me how to be one.” A list of men Justus mentored is itself a hall of fame of local public education: Glenn C. Marlow, Sam Reese, Neil Rogers, Tommy Williams, Malvern West, Corum Smith and Bill Barnwell. “E.L. Justus got out among his students and spoke with them and their concerns,” former NHHS principal Charles Thomas wrote of his first exposure as a student to Justus, who was East Henderson principal. “It was a common sight to encounter him traversing the campus at a jaunty gait, hair slicked back, tie blown across his shoulder and a friendly smile on his face.”

Theron Larnce Maybin (73 years old)

A lifelong farmer, deacon of Cedar Springs Baptist Church, U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and promoter of all things farming in Henderson County, Maybin has devoted his life to promoting Green River. He was instrumental in the founding of the public library branch, Green River Volunteer Fire Department, the Tuxedo community park and the Tuxedo tailgate market. Maybin has taught 4-H Club children “farming techniques, the need to preserve God’s land, good work ethic, perseverance and a love of the land and pride in one’s work,” nominator Betsy Copolillo wrote. “Without people like Theron Maybin we would not enjoy the agricultural benefits we now have.”

William “Bill” McKay Sr. (1925-2008)

In a career in farming, banking, public schools and politics, McKay was instrumental in the founding of many local institutions, including the Community Foundation and Blue Ridge Community College. As the Henderson County Education Foundation’s first president, McKay led efforts to acquire the Historic Johnson Farm and Bullington Gardens. He led the committee that selected the first president of BRCC and during his 21 years of service on the county School Board helped guide the construction of both East Henderson and West Henderson high schools. Active in dairy, poultry and apple farming, McKay also served as a bank executive until his retirement in 1990. He was among First Presbyterian Church members who formed Covenant Presbyterian Church in 1980, serving as an elder and Sunday school teacher.

Pierce Jones Moore Jr.

Drafted into the Army in World War II, Moore spent time in 1945 operating on amputee from the Battle of the Bulge. He opened a medical practice in Hendersonville in 1953 and did not give up his medical license until March of 2016, at the age of 96, prompting the N.C. Medical Board to note that he was the oldest active surgeon in the state. In 1953, the struggling 75-bed Fletcher hospital called on Moore to help turn the hospital around. He did, serving as surgeon, president, medical director and chief of staff. The Fletcher Town Council honored Moore for 50 years of service. He has also been honored by the old Mountain Sanitarium and Hospital (now Park Ridge) and by WLOS as a person of the week. He delivered more than 1,000 babies and performed more than 30,000 surgeries. Making house calls for $3 in the early 1950s and performing surgeries, Moore never turned anyone away for lack of insurance, wanting only “to serve his Maker and be a dedicated Christian in providing service to others,” wrote his wife, Elaine Moore.

Columbus Mills Pace (died in 1925 at age 80)

A fourth generation native of Henderson County, Pace served in the 4th North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate Army. After the war, he earned a law degree and won election as Clerk of Superior Court, a post he held for 57 years. In 1881 he presided over the first meeting of the French Broad Steamboat Co. Along with W.A. Smith, Judge Pace helped to develop Mount Echo (in what became Laurel Park) and the Dummy line trolley. He is said to be the only person memorialized by having his body lie in state at the Historic Courthouse. “Mr. Pace is a staunch, wide-awake citizen, an honorable upright gentleman whose friends are only limited by the number of his acquaintances,” one newspaper article said.

James Pilgrim (died 1988)

A 1934 graduate of Stephens-Lee High School in Asheville, Pilgrim owned Pilgrim’s Funeral Home and built homes and apartments in Hendersonville. He was a deacon of the Star of Bethel Baptist Church, member of the Rising Star Masonic Lodge and national chaplain of the Funeral Directors and Mortuary Association. As the owner and operator of the only funeral home serving the black community here, Pilgrim was a leader in his church and the community, widely respected by African-American and white leaders. “He helped those in need,” nominator Ronnie Pepper wrote.

James M. “Jim” Stokes

A 1953 graduate of Hendersonville High School, Stokes directed the band at his alma mater for 20 years. He was a founder of the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra. In 1991, three years after he retired from HHS, he put out a call for musicians to join the new Hendersonville Community Band. He had no idea what to expect. “To his amazement and joy, 50 volunteer musicians showed up for the first rehearsal,” wrote nominator Kathy Reid, a clarinet player. Since then, the band has performed four concerts a year. “It is easy to see how Mr. Stokes’ selfless and enduring gifts to the community — 37 years’ worth — have created a legacy that will outlive us all.”

Boyce Augustus Whitmire Sr. (1905-1989)

A prominent attorney in Hendersonville for more than 50 years, Whitmire served in the N.C. House and Senate, then on the county School Board, from 1965 to 1968, and finally as Hendersonville mayor, from 1969 to 1977. As mayor he worked for the creation of Green Meadows to provide decent housing for the poor, oversaw the paving of streets and installation of streetlights, established a city parks department and led development of Patton Park. A strong supporter of the arts, he was instrumental in the state Senate designating Flat Rock Playhouse as the State Theatre of North Carolina, then served on the Playhouse Board of Trustees for 20 years. He passed on his devotion to public education to his children, who served for a combined 170 years in the county’s schools. “One would be hard pressed to categorize which of Mr. Whitmire’s contributions have had more significance, been longer lasting or contributed most to the quality of life in Henderson County,” wrote his son John F. Whitmire. “They continue to impact the lives of Henderson County residents even in 2016.”