Remembering Gov. Jim Holshouser

Former Gov. Jim Holshouser — one of only two Republicans elected chief executive in North Carolina in the 20th century — passed away Monday at the age of 78. A report from WRAL-TV outlines the impact of Holshouser’s time in office:

Holshouser was only 38 when he was elected governor in 1972, becoming the first Republican to lead the state since the 1800s. The Democratic Party controlled the General Assembly at the time, but Holshouser worked with lawmakers to expand public school kindergartens statewide, establish health clinics in rural areas not served by local physicians and expand the state parks system.

“James Holshouser was more than a friend and mentor, he was a genuine leader,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. “His passing is not only a loss for the state of North Carolina but for the countless number of people who were personally touched by his guidance and kindness.”

Holshouser helped McCrory transition into the Governor’s Office after his victory in last November’s election. “Compassion was the foundation of Gov. Holshouser’s life,” McCrory said. “He was a champion of education, he made health care available in counties that didn’t have doctors and he provided historic professional opportunities to women and minorities. North Carolina is a better place because of his leadership and heart.”

In 2012, the John William Pope Foundation gave a grant of $30,000 toward the James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professorship in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government. The school uses the professorship endowment to retain or recruit faculty members who bring intelligence, creativity, and deep commitment to serving state and local officials.