Robert W. Scott, 1929-2009

Last Friday, Robert W. Scott, governor of North Carolina from 1969-1973, died in Alamance County, NC. He was 79. (See this memorial post from our partner blog, NC Miscellany).

As one of Hugh Morton’s many gubernatorial friends, he was photographed throughout the years in various outfits, scenes, and positions (you’ll see). In nearly all of the photographs, he wore a smile and often traded handshakes with many of North Carolina’s most prominent citizens.

Gov. Bob Scott and Hugh Morton shaking hands, at/near Grandfather Mountain?, circa 1971

Here Scott is administering one of these handshakes and laying on that trademark smile with none other than Hugh Morton, much to the crowd’s satisfaction.

Scott, famously the son of North Carolina Governor and U.S. Senator W. Kerr Scott, was one of the younger governors to have served in North Carolina, and presented the photographers who happened to be following him with photo opportunities a less vibrant occupant of the office would not.

Hugh Morton photographed Scott often, and featured him in a chapter of his 1988 book with Ed Rankin, Making a Difference in North Carolina (pages 222-227). As Morton/Rankin write, “Scott, a husky young man with boundless energy, enjoyed traveling across North Carolina and meeting its people. . . he had the ability to mix and mingle with average people and learned a great deal from their opinions and suggestions.”

Here Scott is mixing with some local young men outside a shop in Watauga County. Notice how he is able to blend in — one might even go so far as to say that he is ‘Hangin’ Around,’ in direct violation of the sign.

Gov. Bob Scott with young men outside Watauga County store, circa early 1970s

The picture below of Scott and a St. Bernard is another example of Scott’s youthful exuberance. Yet, this photograph also presents a minor archival mystery: according to an obituary of Boone-area photographer George Flowers, it was Flowers who took this famous image (or a very similar one), and was allowed by Scott to use it in print “as long as everyone knew it was a gag and if it was not run on a Sunday.” This is great context, but it doesn’t explain why the negative for this picture is in the Morton collection.

Gov. Bob Scott lying on his back beneath a Saint Bernard carrying a whiskey keg, circa early 1970s

The following photograph (by Hugh Morton) of Scott signing copies of the contested photograph lends credence to the notion that Morton did take the photo, or at least had a strong connection to it through Scott. Perhaps multiple photographers were on the scene at the time? Whoever took the picture(s), though, they captured and preserved for posterity the accessibility and warmth of Scott’s personal and political style.

Gov. Bob Scott autographing a photo of himself with a St. Bernard, circa early 1970s

9 thoughts on “Robert W. Scott, 1929-2009

  1. Robert was a wonderful person! I have to do a report on someone in North Carolina and i choose him because it seems to me that he cares about North Carolina!!!

  2. Nice tribute, David, to a true North Carolina Statesman. As you say, Governor Scott was a favorite photo subject of Hugh Morton. In addition to that section in Hugh’s 1988 book that you mentioned, there are two additional Scott images in Hugh’s 2003 book, “Hugh Morton’s North Carolina.” Those pictures are on pages 88 and 92.

  3. In regards to the mysterious image of Gov. Scott drinking from a barrel, I can shed some light on that one. I have seen George Flower’s image and it is not the same one that you posted here. In Flower’s image, the St. Bernard handler was cropped out of the photo and looks more like the image Scott is signing. According to Flowers, his image originally ran in the Watauga Democrat and also went out over the wire. Many years later, when I was the photo editor of the Watauga Democrat, we did a feature story on George Flowers and ran the photo again. Flowers and Morton knew each other well, as I saw them sitting together at many press gatherings. It is probable that they both attended this “set up” shot.

  4. Thanks Jack, and Marie for your help with these Robert Scott photos. Jack, I had a look at the photos in Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, and they are indeed excellent ones.
    Marie, I think you are right about Scott signing the Flowers image. In addition to the cropping, the dog seems to be looking at the camera in the image Scott is signing, whereas in Morton’s picture the dog is trying to escape the photo-op.
    I’m curious to know more about George Flowers, especially knowing that he and Hugh Morton were friends. There are many pictures of unidentified photographers, and it seems likely that might be one of them.

  5. I’ll send you a link to an image of George Flowers or if you have questions about photo id’s of photographers, I’d be happy to give a look-see. Another prominent Watauga photographer was Palmer Blair. He passed away in the late ’50’s/early ’60’s in a plane crash while out area photographing aerials. Ruby Weston took over Blair’s studio then George took over the studio after that.

  6. Thanks Marie, I certainly appreciate the help. Seeing a George Flowers photo would be fantastic, if its not too much trouble. I haven’t heard the name Palmer Blair before, but I will keep an eye out for him now.

  7. One story behind the picture of Gov. Bob Scott taken with the St. Bernard is wholly “family”. Our daughter, Judy, was working on a Masters in Communications at Chapel Hill. They had an assignment involving taking movie film (spot news?) but the class

    A strictly “family” story about the Bob Scott picture with the St, Bernard. Our daughter Judy was working on a Masters in Communications at Chapel Hill at the time. The class had an assignment involving shooting movie film, but the only had the use of two movie cameras. Judy was using her father’s movie camera and covered Gov. Scott’s visit to one of the ski slopes. Hugh was taking stills. Of course George Flowers was there, too. Hugh put the Governor up to posing for the gag shot you show. I don’t know how Judy made out with her movie. but I remember that the class took a vow that the first one of them to make it big would buy more movie cameras for the University.

  8. Hugh built a golf tee near the swinging bridge years ago. It was called “Billy Joe’s Tee” and Hugh photographed him driving balls from it several times. A hunter found a large number of balls down in the woods many years later and reported that they were all within a few yards of each other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.