Walk of Fame civic contributors honored; including ‘Mr. News, Morning Man and Dr. Deliverance,’ GOP mavericks


Mary Louise Barber and her husband Jim Morse are at left. They are with Tom Orr and Patsy and Dr. Don Jones, at the pre-banquet reception in Carolina Village. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The pre-banquet reception featured a slide show of the 17 inductees, honored for “significant and lasting contribution to the quality of life in Henderson County.” A panel of judges selected them late last year. Carolina Village donated the banquet and prime rib dinners.

Later this month is when the inductees will be honored with outdoor stone markers that the City of Hendersonville installs, local historian Tom Orr told The Tribune. Orr is Walk of Fame founder and committee chairman. Walk of Fame refers to pedestrian access to markers. The first batch will be in the landscaped area by King Street, between Third and Fourth avenues.

Orr, main banquet host, quoted locally-raised poet Lila Ripley Barnwell (1863-1961). She saluted locals “of daring, of courage, of resolution, of vision” who enabled “blessings.” Orr praised honorees’ “integrity,” and risks to improve local lives.


Mike Edney and his father Jimmy honored Jimmy’s brother Kermit Edney and others Sunday. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Two of the 17 inductees are living, and sharp. They are Dr. Pierce Jones “P.J.” Moore Jr., and James Mitchell Stokes. Moore retired last year, at age 96 as eldest surgeon in this state. He did an estimated 30,000-plus surgeries. In Christian charity he often treated uninsured and financially-strapped patients for free at merely $3 per call in the early Fifties, Orr said of this “treasure” of a doctor.

Dr. Moore revived financially-struggling Mountain Sanitarium & Hospital (now Park Ridge Health) in Fletcher, running it starting in 1953. His roles included medical director, and sole surgeon for 19 years. He delivered over 1,000 babies.

The local cultural arts beacon shines on Jim Stokes. He founded Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra in 1971, later the volunteer Community Band in ’91 and its summer band camp scholarships. He was affable Hendersonville High (HHS) band director, in 1968-88. HHS regularly earned a top-level rating, in state contests. He mentored his successor, Fran Shelton, 40 years ago. Stokes is in the N.C. Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

Stokes told The Tribune he played popular Broadway show tunes first to perk interest, then worked in classical numbers. The ’53 HHS grad put up with Earl Martin, the Bobby Knight of band directors, slamming down the baton when upset by rehearsal gaffes.

Stokes was an easy-going instructor. “He was always encouraging with positive reinforcement,” his son James Jr. told The Tribune in recalling when he was taught by his father in HHS.

The recently-deceased inductee was Theron Larnce Maybin (1943-2017), the sole one for agriculture. He died Feb. 17, at 73. The longtime cattle-produce farmer and elected Soil and Water Conservation supervisor also led the county’s Agriculture Advisory panel. He helped found Green River’s public library and fire department. He was a Vietnam War combat helicopter mechanic in 1965-66, and in East Henderson’s inaugural class of ’61.

Inductees were grouped but without quotas, Orr noted. Government honorees are Columbus Mills Pace, Clyde Shuford Jackson, and Boyce Augustus Whitmire Sr.

Judge C.M. Pace (1845-1925) was clerk of court/probate judge for 57 years, staring in 1868 when N.C. re-entered the Union and until his death at age 80. The Confederate veteran made the Historic Courthouse a reality in 1905. In 1888, he co-developed Laurel Park as the initial local suburb.


Kermit Edney is shown interviewing Ronald Reagan, circa the mid-Sixties. Submitted photo.

Popular, rotund Pace was the sole Republican elected local official in the Democratic Solid South for decades, yet routinely unopposed. Orr told of Pace roaming his Fifth Avenue West neighborhood in 1907, the morning after Democrats swept elections. The saying is he held a lantern searching in earnest for fellow Republicans, and microscope to study such a rare find.

Whitmire (1905-1989), an attorney, held various public posts. He was Hendersonville Mayor in 1969-77. He had developed Green Meadows affordable housing, Patton Park and city recreation. He served on the county school board for three years earlier. Before that, he was elected to the State Senate in 1960. He got the Flat Rock Playhouse designated as the official state theater. He was a WCU trustee. His family taught for a combined 170 years.

Jackson (1907-95) chaired county commissioners in 1962-74. His secured Jackson Park that is named after him as the main local park, the current library, county ambulance (EMS) service, and what is now Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC). He founded Jackson Funeral Service & Crematory in 1949, and sang at over 1,000 funerals.

Bill McKay (1925-2008) was inducted under community service, for school and other service. He led the county school board for two decades — in 1961-82 — starting as schools modernized with new East and West Henderson schools. He was a founding BRCC board member, and early Education Foundation president in 1988-90.

McKay was among last commissioner election winners as a Democrat, in 1990, as the GOP was turning the tide. McKay was a local leader in banking (for 22 years) and farming.

Raymond Robert “Bob” Freeman Sr. (1912-2002) was honored for business, but was also active in politics. The cigar smoker’s Freeman’s Newsstand off Church Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues hosted actual smoke-filled backroom politics where laws were crafted and lawsuits settled by men in leather chairs. The store had newspapers from dozens of major U.S. cities, and ticker tape baseball score updates.

Freeman ran it starting in 1937; it closed in 2000. He was “Mr. News,” “Mr. Politics” and “Mr. Republican” for decades. He chaired the county GOP in 1958-62. He reached age 90. His father, R.P., was sheriff. The family has done BBQ catering, and once owned Chimney Rock.

Others spurred historic preservation. Francis “Frank” Coiner (1923-2004), enshrined for law, was Hendersonville city attorney for nearly 30 years. He and Orr fought to get the landmark Historic Courthouse renovated, and still reflect “illustrious heritage.”

Mike Edney, current Commission chairman, recalls Coiner interviewed him for the first lawyer job he got. Edney is grateful to Freeman, for encouraging him and many others to enter politics.

Edney’s uncle Kermit Edney (1925-2000) is hailed as the most famed local radio (WHKP 1450 AM) personality. He is the sole “communications” honoree. He is in the state Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. “The Old Good Morning Man,” is what Kermit and his show were called in 1947-91.

Kermit wrote about history, and shaped it. He lobbied for Downtown’s beautification, and Main Street’s serpentine pattern that in 1978 shifted it from a four-lane state highway to slower and safer, zig-zagging two-lane city street.

Kermit Edney helped start the Apple Festival, Four Seasons Boulevard as main artery into town, Community Foundation, and local United Way. He was local Chamber president. Orr calls him a “go-getter” and “visionary,” who first conceived a Walk of Fame-like civic hall of fame.

Kermit’s brother Jimmy Edney, Mike’s father and longtime realtor, ran the Hot Spot. He told The Tribune that Kermit routinely was “first in line” at Hot Spot at 4 a.m., before starting his early-morning show. Jimmy relished getting to help spin records up to 10 p.m., as an HHS student. He is a 1949 grad.

Mike Edney, Virginia Gambill, Orr, retired Asst. Supt. Dr. Amy Pace, and retired HHS teacher Kaye Youngblood were on the Walk of Fame steering committee. Younglood commended honorees’ caring and giving, to “make our lives better.”

Joseph “Jody” Barber (1923-2001) and family are also pivotal in recording local history. He donated the prestigious Baker-Barber historic photo collection to the local library. “We would not know what ‘we’ looked like — as far back as 1884 — without his generosity,” Orr told the crowd.

Barber’s wife Mary Douglass Barber (1922-2008), was enshrined separately. She was the first female Apple Festival president, and sole woman on the Downtown Revitalization Committee. She had Main Street side avenues decorated with hanging baskets. She helped Jody catalogue photos, and edited his book of a century of historic images. The Barbers were honored for philanthropy. Their daughter, Mary Louise Barber, has acted in several of Orr’s six historic plays.

The other couple — Donald and Sally Godehn — went in jointly, for community service. Thus, 16 entries enshrined 17 people. The Godehns made a “magnificent team” such as for election reform and helping start Opportunity House, Orr said. Don helped launch the YMCA, and Pardee Hospital’s foundation. He died in 2002, at age 83.

Sally Godehn (1919-2010) was “mentor to many” including Barbara Volk 42 years ago, Hendersonville Mayor Volk said. She sparked local court reforms to curb corruption, leading “court watch” monitors. Sally was “shrewd” policing against voter fraud such as posing as voters who had just died but were still registered, Orr noted. She filmed voters outside polls with a movie camera, often pretending to in a bluff.

Contributing to medicine are Dr. Moore, and Dr. James Steven Brown (1866-1958). Brown’s in-home infirmary saved sick babies, before Hendersonville got a hospital. Records indicate he delivered 6,547 babies in town in 52 years (1906-58), until he was 92. That earns him title of Dr. Deliverance. More reliable than mail delivery, he reputedly obliged all house calls even in a buggy on muddy trails.

Education is represented by Ernest “E.L” Justus (1900-94), jolly principal of Flat Rock High (1932-60) then East Henderson (1960-69) once it opened. Then in 1970, he was among winners in the county’s first election for its school board. He served to 1986, capping nearly 60 years in education that began with teaching in a one-room log cabin school.

James Junious Pilgrim (1915-1988), the sole black in the inaugural class, was inducted for community service. He was a catalyst for peaceful integration of local schools in the mid-Sixties. He rewarded each grad of all-black Ninth Avenue High with a shiny silver dollar. He helped people financially, even in building them homes. He founded James Pilgrim Funeral Home in Hendersonville, and was Funeral Directors and Mortuary Association national chaplain.

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