Raleigh, NC– Governor Pat McCrory offered his condolences to Governor James E. Holshouser's family today. The governor passed away early this morning at the age of 78. Holshouser was governor of North Carolina from January 1973 until January 1977.
“James Holshouser was more than a friend and mentor, he was a genuine leader,” said Governor McCrory. “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. Ann and I will have the Holshouser family in our prayers.”
Governor McCrory visited the Holshouser family Sunday afternoon to pay his respects.
Governor Holshouser served on Governor’s McCrory’s transition team and offered advice on building a cabinet, preparing a budget and handling the demands of the governor’s office.
“His counsel was invaluable," Governor McCrory said. "Compassion was the foundation of Governor Holshouser’s life. 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.”
James Holshouser was elected governor in 1972, the first Republican to be voted into the governor’s chair since 1896. Immediately, he made history by appointing the first woman to serve at the cabinet level. Grace Rohrer served as his Commissioner of the Department of Art, History and Culture.
Education was a hallmark of Governor Holshouser’s administration. He modernized and consolidated university governance under the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, a structure still in place today. He also spearheaded a historic capital improvement program for the state’s community colleges. Governor Holshouser was a strong believer in early childhood education as well, establishing the first statewide enrollment of kindergarten students.
Governor Holshouser paid special attention to the needs of rural North Carolina. As part of his health agenda, he established clinics in rural areas not served by local physicians. He also worked creatively to establish new economic opportunities through international trade. In September 1973, Holshouser led a North Carolina trade mission to the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries.
During his term of service to the state, Governor Holshouser’s counsel was sought by many organizations. He was elected to the executive committee of the National Governors Conference. He also was elected chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board, co-chairman of the Coastal Plains Regional Commission and chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board.
Governor Holshouser was the last North Carolina governor not eligible to run for a second term. After leaving office in 1977, he resumed his law practice in Boone and Southern Pines and continued to contribute to the community. In 1979 he was elected to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, where he eventually earned emeritus status.
He also served on the board of Davidson College and, in 1987, successfully spearheaded a $50 million fundraising campaign for the institution. In 1990, he raised $12 million for St. Andrews, a Presbyterian college, and also served as its board of trustees’ chairman.
Following a kidney transplant in 1986, Governor Holshouser devoted much of his time and treasure to numerous organ transplant organizations including the board of directors of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Governor Holshouser’s commitment to economic development for struggling communities never waned, and, in 1995 his efforts were recognized. He received the Distinguished Public Service citation from the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, now known as the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
Governor Holshouser earned numerous life achievement honors, but perhaps the most enduring are the professorships that bear his name. In 1997, Appalachian State University in Boone established the James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professor of Ethics chair in the Walker College of Business. Dr. Alan E. Singer currently holds the professorship.
In December 2012, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill established the James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professorship at the UNC School of Government. The professorship honors Holshouser’s emphasis on effective local government and the economic improvement of North Carolina’s communities.