Charles W. McCrary Sr. (1902-1984)
In a special edition insert of The Courier-Tribune in 1988, celebrating RCC’s 25th Anniversary, former Asheboro Mayor Robert Reese stated, “If it hadn’t been for Charles McCrary, there wouldn’t have been a technical school. He was the guiding force behind the school. McCrary was the one who found out about the possibility of the technical school and did all he could in Raleigh to help the county get one.” In the same article, former RCC President Merton H. Branson noted, “The late Charles W. McCrary, who at this time (1957) was a member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, paved the way for Randolph County to be selected as a site for one of the early Industrial Education Centers.”
If anyone could be considered “The Father of Randolph Community College,” it would probably be Charles W. McCrary Sr. Not only was McCrary instrumental in fighting for the establishment of an Industrial Education Center in Randolph County, but he also helped advocate for and establish these schools across the state. Therefore, Randolph County’s own Charles W. McCrary is also considered one of “Fathers of the N.C. Community College System.”
McCrary was the son of Acme-McCrary founder D. B. McCrary and was very involved in civic duties both in Randolph County and across the state. McCrary was chairman of the board of Acme-McCrary Corporation. He also served as chairman of the board of Marlowe Manufacturing Co. Inc. of Florence, S.C.; vice-president of Sapona Manufacturing Co., secretary of Randolph Oil Co., chairman of the Asheboro board of Wachovia Bank and Trust Co., and past chairman of the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers. He and his father helped found Randolph Hospital and he was president of Randolph Hospital from 1946-1976 and was vice president until his death in 1984. He served on the Asheboro City Board of Education from 1936-1956 and was chairman from 1941-1956 when he was appointed to the N.C. State Board of Education by N.C. Governor Luther H. Hodges. He served on the state board until 1965. He was past president of the Asheboro Public Library, past president of the Chamber of Commerce, and past president of the Asheboro Rotary Club. He was a member of the board of managers of the Methodist Home from 1956 until his death in 1984. A graduate of Asheboro High School, McCrary was a native of Randolph County who represented the county well on the state level.
In 1956, McCrary was appointed to the State Board of Education under Governor Luther Hodges’ administration. He was appointed chairman of the Committee for Industrial Education Centers in 1957. McCrary was heavily involved with the establishment of these Industrial Education Centers across the state and worked closely with Dallas Herring and A. Wade Martin in Raleigh to see these schools come to fruition. His work involved establishing regulations, policies, and procedures for the establishment of Industrial Education Centers across the state. By 1963, McCrary had witnessed 20 Industrial Education Centers open across North Carolina and these Industrial Education Centers would eventually evolve into the community colleges we have today.
McCrary was very interested in seeing one of these schools established in Randolph County, and as soon as he was appointed to the State Board began working to secure one of these schools for Randolph. In early 1957, McCrary began working with both local and state civic and government leaders to make this happen. In fact, in 1957, McCrary made the first bid in Raleigh for the establishment of such a school in Randolph County. This was the first bid of any county in North Carolina. However, other counties would beat Randolph in opening their schools. As early as April 1957, McCrary began working with Lynn Albright, chairman of the Randolph County Board of Education, and W. Frank Redding, Jr., chairman of the Asheboro City Board of Education, to generate interest throughout the county for such a school. He also worked closely with W. J. Boger Jr., Randolph County Schools superintendent, and Guy B. Teachey, Asheboro City Schools superintendent. McCrary worked tirelessly by writing letters, speaking to various groups, and campaigning for an IEC in Randolph County. In making his request for a school to be located in Asheboro or Randolph County, McCrary pledged the support of the county and noted that local aid would be forthcoming for building the structures needed and for operating the school.
In May of 1957, McCrary organized a meeting at Acme-McCrary Recreation Center of representative leaders in business, education and industry to discuss the proposed vocational technical school in Randolph County. McCrary helped community leaders see the potential the school had for developing Randolph’s industrial potential, bridging the gap between the production worker and the engineer, increasing the per capita income of the county, and stimulating interest in new and expanding industries. This meeting was what ignited the spark locally and sold many local officials on the need for an Industrial Education Center in Randolph County. Because of his involvement in the community and as a member of the State Board of Education, he was able to rally support for the school and also worked closely with the Asheboro Chamber of Commerce.
In 1958, McCrary traveled to Washington, D.C., to work with federal officials in securing federal machinery and World War II surplus equipment to equip the new Industrial Education Centers across the state. Almost all of the original equipment that was in the classrooms when the Randolph IEC opened was a result of McCrary’s trip to Washington. Throughout 1958 and 1959, from his post at the state level, McCrary continued to work with local officials to help make the Randolph IEC a reality.
In 1959, he hosted a tour for local leaders at the newly opened Burlington Industrial Education Center, now Alamance Community College, to help them see the possibilities and opportunities that such a school could have for Randolph County. Throughout the early 1960s, McCrary continued to work behind the scenes to help establish the Randolph IEC. It is pretty obvious why Charles W. McCrary Sr. should be selected for the Distinguished Service Award. Not only was he one of the first to help advocate and push for an Industrial Education Center in Randolph County, but he also played a role in developing these schools all across the state. Randolph County should be proud of the fact that one of her own helped to build the North Carolina Community College System. McCrary’s involvement in the local community and on the state level helped ensure that Randolph County would indeed get one of these schools and since 1962, the College has felt the impact and seen the growth that has occurred from the seed planted by Charles W. McCrary Sr.