According to the program, the Sampson County Republican Party Hall of Fame was established to honor and recognize those individuals, both past and present, for outstanding commitment to and support of the Sampson County Republican Party.
While welcoming the audience, Sampson County Republican Party chairman Dwight Williams Jr. voiced that the event both to honor and pay tribute to 10 of Sampson County’s greatest citizens.
“They are not only great Republicans, but great citizens,” he stated.
Following Williams, Sampson County Board of Commissioner chairman Jarvis McLamb took the podium to address the audience.
“They are the backbone to the Republican Party,” he conveyed about the Hall of Fame inductees. “No one, in my opinion, is able to win public office without the backbone to the committee.”
With that said, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton and Williams began presenting the 10 inductees to the Hall of Fame.
The first to be inducted was the late Omax Barefoot, of the Plain View community, who served as a precinct chairman from 1976 to 1992, during a time “when it wasn’t fun to be a Republican.”
Barefoot also was a delegate to the county and state convention, a deacon, Sunday school superintendent and a lifelong farmer, to name a few of his accomplishments.
“If he pledged to support you,” Thornton read, “you could be sure he’d do everything possible to see you elected.”
The second inductee was the late Harold Edgerton, who “grew up in a time when church and family friends were close at hand.”
“After moving to Clinton in 1962,” Williams voiced, “he became, and continues to be, a vital part of Sampson County life. He was the embodiment of grassroots politics, which is exactly what tonight is about ... it is about the people who built the Republican Party from the ground up.”
Following Edgerton, was the late Croom Faircloth. Thornton said it was an honor to induct such a fine man.
Sworn in as an attorney at law, Faircloth also served on many boards, ranging from the Bar Association to the Sampson Regional Medical Center; he was a lifelong Republican and the past president of the Swine Club.
Following Faircloth was Fay Gaddy, of West Clinton, whose heritage dates back to the Daughters of the Revolution.
“As her historical family has served this county, so has Fay,” Williams expressed.
Gaddy, Williams read, has served on the Sampson County nursing home committee, was a migrant coordinator for Sampson County Schools and has volunteered, promoted and committed herself to the Republican Party.
“All she has done, she’s done with pride in her party and, like tonight, with a smile on her face,” Williams finished.
Agnes Kirby, of the Plain View community, has been very active in precinct polls and helping the Republican Party for almost 30 years, Thornton voiced.
“She is always one you can go to the bank with to volunteer and we appreciate that,” Thornton commented.
Helen Massey, of the Turkey township, has served as co-chairwoman for the Republican Party for many years, was a delegate to county, state and district meetings, was a judge for the Turkey precinct, and has worked to elect many candidates.
“These are the lifeblood of the Sampson County Republican Party,” Thornton conveyed. “Without them we wouldn’t be able to achieve all we have today.”
Following Massey was inductee Dan McLamb, whose first political involvement began as a child when he pulled a Roosevelt pin off a fellow classmate.
Thornton recognized McLamb for his contributions to the Herring community by transporting people to polls, serving as a Republican Board of Commissioners member and serving on the board of directors for the Department of Social Services.
“This good Republican hollered his way all the way to Hollywood as the 1977 Hollerin’ champion,” Thornton finished.
Next inductee, the late Thomas E. McLamb, was a dairy farmer and “die-hard” Republican. “I am sure if God was not a Republican before, he is now,” Williams joked.
Serving on many boards, including Dairy Men Inc., FCX, Hobbton Elementary School and Spivey Corner’s Lion’s Club, Williams explained that McLamb preferred to work in the background.
“He could wade through the fluff to find the real politics,” Williams summed up.
Dexter Raynor, also inducted, was characterized as an asset to Sampson County. “He always served his fellow citizens in kindness,” Thornton noted.
According to Thornton, Raynor was also very active in the Lions Club, recruiting and volunteering for the Republican Party, school PTAs and party organization.
“He did more for others in the community than many people do in a lifetime,” Thornton ended.
The final inductee, James Earl Strickland, was recognized for his contributions to the PTA, Boy Scouts (serving as a Scout Master), board of trustees for Sampson Community College and for being a lifelong Republican.
He has also served as both a precinct judge and chief judge.
“He began in the background, supporting the cause, then he got out to make sure people were voting,” Thornton concluded.
After the inductees were nominated to the Republican Party Hall of Fame, Clinton mayor Lew Starling introduced the keynote speaker, former N.C. Sen. Fred Smith.
Smith articulated his pleasure in seeing Faircloth, along with the nine other individuals, inducted to the Hall of Fame. “These are the folks that make it happen,” he voiced.
During his keynote address, Smith proposed a plan to rebuild the party by, he said, rebuilding the brand.
“Some say to abandoned the party, some say to rebuild ... I am of the class that says we need to rebuild. Nothing is wrong with the brand,” Smith revealed, adding that the brand was tarnished by greed and insufficient elected officials.
“We need to be about fixing the brand and staying true to our values,” Smith suggest.
Jessica Wagner can be contacted at 910-592-8137 ext.122 or reached by e-mail at email@example.com