Wake Forest’s finest golfer: Arnold Palmer (1929–2016)

Arnold Palmer (center) shakes hands with Howie Johnson after the 1958 Azalea Open Golf Tournament at the Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington, NC. Azalea Festival Queen Ester Williams smiles between the two good friends. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.

Arnold Palmer (center) shakes hands with Howie Johnson after the 1958 Azalea Open Golf Tournament at the Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington, NC. Azalea Festival Queen Ester Williams smiles between the two good friends. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.

If I were to write a short story about this afternoon, I would title it “A Tale of Two Sweaters.”

Arnold Palmer, Wake Forest’s finest golfer who also was one of the game’s greatest players, course designers, and ambassadors, died yesterday.  Earlier today, the Wilson Library reference staff received a request from a Wilmington media outlet for two images from the online collection of images of Palmer at the Azalea Open.  Both images had dates of 31 March 1957; one scan came from a negative (cropped by the author) . . .

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the other (below) from a print with no identifying information on its back.

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I quickly noticed that Palmer was not wearing the same sweater in both images, and that the women were also wearing different clothes.  A bit of digging in newspapers on microfilm and online, plus a check with other Morton negatives that are not online (including the scan at the beginning of this post) led to the discovery that the first of these two images was correctly identified.  It depicts the check presentation from Azalea Festival Queen Kathryn Grayson to Palmer after he won the 1957 open, but Morton made the latter after the 1958 tournament.

Here’s is the short storyline for the 1958 Azalea Open finale: Arnold Palmer was the defending champion, but finished second to Howie Johnson after losing a playoff round by one stroke. Palmer and Johnson were reportedly very good friends at the the time.  The following week, Palmer won his first Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Ironically, Palmer and Johnson died almost exactly one year apart: Howie Johnson died September 21, 2015.

 

 

The “Heels” and the “Dawgs:” a storied rivalry

UNC will kick off the 2016 football season in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on September 3rd at 5:30 PM (Eastern) on ESPN.  It’s the “Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game” between Carolina’s Tar Heels and Georgia’s Bulldogs. The game will mark the thirty-first meeting between the two old rivals in a series that dates back to 1895. Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at this historic series.

Cover of the official program for the 1956 UNC Homecoming football game against the University of Georgia. Handlebar mustaches would have been more popular in the late 1890s, so perhaps the cover design was a throwback to the early days of the UNC–Georgia series. The 1956 contest marked the silver anniversary between the football squads of what the cover story declared to be the "two oldest state institutions" in the South. Those in the know know which school was the first to open its door and admit students!

Cover of the official program for the 1956 UNC Homecoming football game against the University of Georgia. Handlebar mustaches would have been more popular in the late 1890s, so perhaps the cover design was a throwback to the early days of the UNC–Georgia series. The 1956 contest marked the silver anniversary between the football squads of what the cover story declared to be the “two oldest state institutions” in the South. Those in the know know which school was the first to open its door and admit students!

When Carolina and Georgia square off in the “Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game” on September 3rd, it will mark the 7th time the two teams have played in Atlanta.  Of the first three games in the series played there, Carolina won two games in 1895 and Georgia won the third game, 24 to 16, on October 31, 1896.  In 1898 the two teams played in Macon, Georgia before returning to Atlanta in 1899.  In 1900 these foes met in Raleigh, where Carolina won in a rout 55 to 0. Then in 1901 it was back to Atlanta where Carolina shut out the Dogs for a second straight year, this time 27 to 0.

Twelve seasons passed before the two teams met again. The 1913 game was a 19 to 6 Georgia victory at Sanford Field in Athens, Georgia. The sixth and most recent game (until 2016) in Atlanta was played on October 17, 1914—a game the Tar Heels won 41 to 6. There were no games between the two between the years 1915 and 1928.

The teams renewed their series on October 19, 1929 when Georgia visited Chapel Hill for the first time.  The game played in Kenan Memorial Stadium turned out to be a tough 19-to-12 loss for the Heels.  During the next five seasons, the two teams rotated home and away with Georgia winning in 1930, 1931, and 1933, while Carolina could win only in 1934. The game in 1932 ended in a 6–6 tie.

Once again, twelve seasons played out before the two teams met next, and this was a big one: the 1947 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  Photographer Hugh Morton planned to attend, but had a last-minute-in-flight change of plans.  “I missed the 1947 Sugar Bowl against Georgia,” Morton explained in a 1992 game-day program, because bad flying weather diverted some other Tar Heel rooters and me to St. Petersburg instead of New Orleans.”

Most long-time Tar Heels know the 1947 Sugar Bowl story: Carolina’s first bowl game . . . battle of the “Charlies,” Justice and Trippi . . . controversial call . . . a Georgia victory, 20 to 10.  (You can read a longer version of the story via the link.)

On opening day, September 27, 1947, Georgia head coach Wally Butts brought his Bulldogs into Chapel Hill before 43,000 fans for the “rematch” of the Sugar Bowl.  I don’t believe the national attention this game brought to Chapel Hill as ever been equaled. Fifty-five reporters filled the press box; photographers, including Hugh Morton, lined the sidelines.  Present were all five movie newsreel services (MGM, Warner Bros–Pathe, Fox Movietone, Universal, and Paramount) and five radio networks (ABC, CBS, Atlantic, Tobacco Sports, and the Georgia Sports Network). The networks transmitted the play-by-play via 600 stations. Nationally known sportscasters Harry Wismer from ABC and Red Barber from CBS were on hand. Two Walt Pupa touchdown passes, one to Bob Cox and one to Art Weiner, sealed the 14 to 7 Carolina victory.  Hugh Morton’s picture of Weiner from the ’47 Georgia game is a classic and has been reproduced many times over the years. It was Georgia’s first loss in eighteen games over three seasons.

Art Weiner catching pass versus Georgia.

UNC left end Art Weiner catches pass during game against Georgia at Kenan Stadium, September 27, 1947. UNC tailback Charlie Justice (left) looks on from a distance while Georgia’s Dan Edwards (#55) watches from a few yards away.

When Carolina returned to Athens for the 1948 game, Charlie Justice had his best day ever, gaining 304 total yards in a 21 to 14 Tar Heel win.

It was another Art Weiner day in Chapel Hill on October 1, 1949, as the All America end caught two touchdown passes to lead Carolina to a third straight seven-point victory over Georgia—again 21 to 14 to the delight of 44,000 fans in Kenan.  In a 1992 interview, Art Weiner described his 33-yard 4th quarter touchdown as one of his proudest moments during his time in Chapel Hill.

On October 7, 1950, it was back to Athens for the 20th meeting between Carolina and Georgia. I have some special memories from this game as I sat at home in Asheboro, North Carolina listening to the play-by-play on the Tobacco Sports Network. Normally the play-by-play announcer would be Ray Reeve, but on this day he was not able to be behind the microphone and my future dear friend and sports anchor at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, Charlie Harville did the broadcast. In the end it was a 0 to 0 tie…the second time for a tie game in the long history of the series.

Festivities for the 1951 Carolina – Georgia game got off to an unusual start. On Friday night, September 28th, a torchlight parade through downtown Chapel Hill and across campus was followed by a pep rally in Memorial Hall that featured both head coaches, Carl Snavely from Carolina and Wally Butts from Georgia. The 1951 Tar Heel football team, led by Captain Joe Dudeck, made a dramatic entrance down the center aisle and onto the stage. In addition to the speeches from the head coaches, Kay Kyser, UNC’s All-Time Cheerleader, led the packed-house in a rousing cheer.

But on Saturday, in Kenan Stadium, it was all Bulldogs, 28 to 16.

The 1952 meeting between Carolina and Georgia was scheduled for October 4th, but two days before, UNC was forced to cancel the game because of a polio outbreak on campus. Georgia Head Coach Wally Butts said, “We are very disappointed that our traditional game with North Carolina can’t be played. We feel they were right to cancel the game under the circumstances.”

Starting with the 1953 game in Athens, the Dogs went on a 4 game winning streak ending with a 26 to 12 win to spoil homecoming in Chapel Hill on October 13, 1956 in front of only 19,000 fans. That ’56 game was the silver anniversary game in the series.

Hugh Morton's action photograph of the 1956 UNC versus Georgia game, as published in the October 15, 1956 issue of The Charlotte News. The caption identifies the ball carrier as George Whitton, but the game day program does not include his name and lists #32 as Ed Burkhalter.

Hugh Morton’s action photograph of the 1956 UNC versus Georgia game, as published in the October 15, 1956 issue of The Charlotte News. The caption identifies the ball carrier as George Whitton, but the game day program does not include his name and lists #32 as Ed Burkhalter.

Hugh Morton's negative of the above scene, without cropping.

Hugh Morton’s negative of the above scene, without cropping.

The teams would not meet again until the 1963 season. Going into that season’s game in Chapel Hill on November 2nd, the series stood at twelve wins for Georgia, eleven wins for Carolina, and two ties.  After Carolina’s 28 to 7 win the series was tied at twelve.  As it turned out, that UNC victory would be its last win over Georgia.  The Tar Heels subsequently lost in 1964, ’65, and ’66 as well as the last time these two teams met in the 1971 Gator Bowl—a game that was billed as the “Battle of the Brothers” between Vince Dooley of Georgia and Bill Dooley of Carolina.

That 1971 New Year’s Eve battle in Jacksonville, Florida was UNC’s sixth bowl game appearance going back to the 1947 Sugar Bowl game against Georgia.  After a scoreless first half, Carolina took a 3 to 0 lead in the 3rd quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Ken Craven, but Georgia came back later in the third with a 25-yard Jimmy Poulos TD run. Following the point-after, that was all the scoring that day. Georgia won the defensive battle 7 to 3.  (Hugh Morton was otherwise preoccupied and did not travel to photograph the bowl game.)  Carolina has not played Georgia since that day.  Tomorrow’s 2016 season opener will renew the storied rivalry.

Picture Day 1946: When Hugh met Charlie

The summer hiatus here at A View to Hugh is winding down as students begin appearing on campus this weekend.  Hot August days have returned to Chapel Hill and football practice is underway for the 2016 season.  Expectations are high for the Tar Heels just as it was seventy seasons ago.  Today, on this anniversary of the birth of a very special friendship, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to August 17, 1946.

Charlie Justice standing with Hugh Morton. Justice is wearing the #22 jersey recovered in November 1948 by UNC President C. D. Spangler during a UNC-Virginia football game. This photograph dates from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Charlie Justice standing with Hugh Morton. Justice is wearing the #22 jersey recovered in November 1948 by UNC President C. D. Spangler during a UNC-Virginia football game. This photograph dates from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

It was early August, 1946, and it was hot. The annual preseason football magazines had just hit the stands and judging from those traditional predictors, Carolina was going to be something special. Sportswriter Jack Troy wrote in the 1946 issue of Street & Smith Football Pictorial Yearbook:

. . . the Tar Heels are about ready to step back into the picture as a national football power.  During the winter the Tar Heels snatched Charlie Justice from under the noses of South Carolina coaches, and Justice is supposed to be one of the best ball carriers in the business.

On August 17, 1946, Head Coach Carl Snavely greeted 104 Tar Heel candidates along with Kay Kyser, headline radio star and considered Carolina’s greatest all-time cheerleader. Also present was University President Dr. Frank Porter Graham. Of the 104, only 18 were returning lettermen, but Snavely said he expected about 10 additional lettermen by August 26th. By the time editor Jake Wade got the ’46 Football Media Guide published, the lettermen count was 31.

One of the most welcomed lettermen returning was Hosea Rodgers, a 200-pound fullback who led Carolina to a 9 to 6 victory over Pennsylvania back in 1943. Many of the freshmen were returning World War II veterans in their 20s—like freshman Charlie Justice, sometimes called the “Bainbridge Flash.” Justice was the one player who was going to make a good Carolina team great.

With the stage set, practice got underway.  Although classes had not officially begun, there were many students already on campus.  It wasn’t unusual for two or three hundred students to show up for Carolina’s practices.  One of the early official team functions was called picture day, when the players dress out in their game day uniforms and talk with the media and pose for photographs. Of course one of those photographers present was Hugh Morton.  Here’s how Justice described the scene that day for biographer Bob Terrell in a 1995 interview:

The first time I saw Hugh Morton was in August of 1946. The weather was hot and we were practicing twice a day. Sunday was an off day and Snavely and his staff decided that was the day they’d have the press come in and take pictures, get interviews, and so forth. . . We started at two o’clock, and it seemed that everybody in the country was there to shoot pictures. I noticed Hugh Morton on the sidelines, paying no attention to me at all, taking pictures of everybody else.

After about two and a half hours, Snavely said “that’s it guys,” and told the players they could go inside out of the heat.  As the Tar Heels were leaving the field, UNC Publicity Director Robert Madry’s Assistant Jake Wade came over to Justice and said: “Charlie, I’d like for you to meet Hugh Morton. He’s a great friend of the University. He’d like to take a few more shots.”  According to Justice, “We stayed there another two hours, hot as it was, and everything had to be just perfect.”

Finally Morton finished up and as the August sun was setting behind the west end zone, Charlie began the long walk to the Kenan Field House dressing room at the other end of Kenan Stadium. “I didn’t say anything at the time,” Justice said, ”but when I got in the dressing room, everybody had already left. I said, ‘I hope I never see him again.'”

Charlie Justice photograph of Charlie Justice in a posed portrait while punting, circa 1946-1947.

Charlie Justice photograph of Charlie Justice in a posed portrait while punting, circa 1946-1947.

But Charlie did see Hugh again . . . often . . . at practice and on the Kenan sideline almost every Saturday afternoon. They would often carry on extended conversations, and in the end they became friends, a friendship that lasted 57 years. Justice often participated with Hugh at the Azalea Festival in Wilmington and at the Highland Games and other events at Grandfather Mountain. When Hugh Morton announced his candidacy for governor on December 1, 1971 Charlie Justice was with him in front of the Capitol in Raleigh.

“He supported me wholeheartedly,” said Justice, “not just at Carolina, either. When I got to the Redskins, I turned around on the field and there was Hugh shooting pictures. Because of him, I suppose my football career was preserved on film as well as anybody’s ever was. . . . When I went into the [College Football] Hall of Fame, he got Governor Luther Hodges’s plane and flew Sarah, me, and his wife Julia to New York—when we got there we discovered that the girls couldn’t got to the banquet. So Sarah and Julia went over to Broadway and saw My Fair Lady that night. Then we flew back to Raleigh.”

Justice treasured men like Hugh Morton as his friends, and the honor was returned. “We didn’t have ESPN or the Internet back then,” Justice said. “But we didn’t need ’em. We had Hugh Morton. What a great friend he was to our team and to Carolina.”

Hugh Morton photograph of UNC fullback Hosea Rodgers (#70) and left end Bob Cox (#49), late 1940s.

Hugh Morton photograph of UNC fullback Hosea Rodgers (#70) and left end Bob Cox (#49), late 1940s.

“I can close my eyes and still see him with that camera around his neck,” said Bob Cox, an end and place-kicker from the 1946 Tar Heels, “Hugh was always around the team, around the program. He gave meaning to what we were doing. If anyone ever stood for the Carolina tradition, it was Hugh Morton. He helped build the pride and spirit and love for Carolina as much as anyone on the team.”

On a day in late May of 2001, Hugh Morton, along with several Tar Heel friends visited Charlie and Sarah Justice at their home in Cherryville. Of course Hugh was taking pictures, but at one point he stopped and said, “Charlie Justice inspired more loyalty at a key time following the war that was reflected in a huge amount of support for every facet of the University, not just athletics. It would be impossible to put a value on his contributions to the University—it would be in the real big millions.”

On Monday, October 20, 2003, my wife Marla and I, along with 200 plus others, attended the memorial service for Charlie Justice at The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville. We were seated on the right side of the church where we could see many of the special guests from the Tar Heel Nation seated in the center. Among that group was Hugh Morton. He, like all of us, was obviously emotionally shaken. I think it was the first and possibly the only time I ever saw him at a Charlie Justice event without his camera.

A climb to the bridge

During Memorial Day weekend 2016, two great auto racing events took time to remember and honor troops: the Indianapolis 500 at Speedway, Indiana, which ran its 100th race, and the Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, North Carolina, which ran its 57th race.  The latter, held at Charlotte Motor Speedway ran its first event on June 19, 1960 and was called “The World 600.”  Fifteen days before that first run, on June 4th, another racing event in North Carolina ran its 8th annual event at Grandfather Mountain.

Usually when one thinks of events at Grandfather Mountain, the Highland Games and Singing on the Mountain immediately come to mind.  But during the 1950s and early 1960s, there was another event that drew considerable attention.  Today, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb.

Car #22 racing to the top during the 1957 Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Car #22 racing to the top during the 1957 Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

On a June day in 1953, nine months after Hugh Morton and his team at Grandfather Mountain dedicated the Mile High Swinging Bridge, a small group of sports car enthusiasts from the Greensboro-Burlington-Winston chapter of the Sports Car Club of North Carolina gathered on the road at the foot of the historic mountain.  They, along with Morton, wanted to see how fast they could climb the winding two-and-a half-mile road with an elevation increase of 1,000 feet during a race to the top against the clock.  An average tourist driver would take about ten minutes to maneuver the 28-turn trip to the Swinging Bridge, but these sports cars, with their tremendous horsepower, could do it much faster.  On that June day a Jaguar made the run in 4 minutes, 55 seconds—and the idea for a “hill climb” caught on.  A new event would be added to the Grandfather Mountain summer calendar.

In late May, 1954, Hugh Morton sent out the following press release:

Two events you’re likely to enjoy take place at Grandfather Mountain the weekend of June 5-6. . . The mile-high kite flying contest was the idea of Fox-Movietone News and has met with such enthusiasm that now it promises to be a show of great proportions . . . .  A sports car race is something that was tried with great success last year at Grandfather on a relatively small scale . . . this year the Greensboro-Burlington-Winston chapter of the Sports Car Club of North Carolina will be joined by MG and Jaguar fanciers from the Charlotte area and all over for a really big affair.  The Grandfather Mountain road gains elevation in a hurry and has one or two curves, so it’s a natural for the sports car folks.  Mystery-thriller writer Mickey Spillane, who sells by the millions those books your wife won’t let you read, is scheduled for pace-setter in the race.

On Saturday night, June 5, 1954, Spillane made the 400-mile trip from Myrtle Beach in time for the first run up the mountain, scheduled for 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.  Thirty-four drivers competed, and a crowd estimated at 1,000 cheered them on.  At the end of the day Maurice Poole, Jr., from Greensboro, was the overall winner driving a Riley touring car in a record time of 3 minutes, 55 seconds.

Hugh Morton labeled this negative "Sports Car Hill Climb" but he did not provide the date. After examining a high resolution scan of the negative, the third line of inscription on the trophy on the left appears to end in "1954." If so, the overall winner that year was Maurice Poole, Jr. of Greensboro, North Carolina. The Class A competition winner was Tony Haigh of Hampton, Virginia. Maurice Poole, Jr. was the Class B winner, and the Class C winner was John Belk of Hickory, North Carolina. Do those names match up with these faces? And is the person on the left Mickey Spillane? That's a mighty low part on the right side of the awards presenter's head and might be a good feature for comparing against known portraits of the famed detective novelist. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Hugh Morton labeled this negative “Sports Car Hill Climb” but he did not provide the date. After examining a high resolution scan of the negative, the third line of inscription on the trophy on the left appears to end in “1954.” If so, the overall winner that year was Maurice Poole, Jr. of Greensboro, North Carolina. The Class A competition winner was Tony Haigh of Hampton, Virginia. Maurice Poole, Jr. was the Class B winner, and the Class C winner was John Belk of Hickory, North Carolina. Do those names match up with these faces? And is the person on the left Mickey Spillane? That’s a mighty low part on the right side of the awards presenter’s head and might be a good feature for comparing against known portraits of the famed detective novelist. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

A year later, the third annual Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb was staged on June 3rd and 4th, 1955—third annual if you count that unofficial run in 1953.  This time sixty drivers were on hand with more than twenty-five of them driving Jaguars.  ’54 winner Maurice Poole was the man to beat on this day, but he had changed his winning Riley for a ’55 modified Jag.  When the dust had settled on Sunday afternoon, a Chevrolet-powered V8 MG driven by Jimmy Kaperoms had set a new record of 3 minutes, 33 seconds.

In the June ’56 hill climb, Winston-Salem’s Ed Welch, driving a Mercury-powered Bob Davis Special set yet another record over the crushed-gravel course, climbing the hill with a time of 3:25.3.  Welch, having won three class races at Grandfather over the years, was awarded the Dennis Strong Memorial Trophy, which was named for one of the founders of the Grandfather Mountain race.  Strong was killed in 1953 during a sports car race in Greensboro.

Almost 100 drivers registered for the 1957 hill climb, and Hugh Morton brought in his old friend from Morganton, golfer Billy Joe Patton to make the trophy presentations.  Helping Patton was “Queen of the Hill Climb” Betty Jean Goodwin from Spartanburg, South Carolina, a Wake Forest coed. The ’57 winner was once again Ed Welch and again he set a record of 3:23.1 to the delight of the more than 3,000 spectators.

Spectators watching woman kissing man on cheek who is receiving trophy, probably for winning the Sports Car Hill Climb event at Grandfather Mountain, N. C. Golfer Billy Joe Patton at left. From a negative labeled "Sports Cars '57" by Hugh Morton.

Spectators watching woman kissing man on cheek who is receiving trophy, probably for winning the Sports Car Hill Climb event at Grandfather Mountain, N. C. Golfer Billy Joe Patton at left. From a negative labeled “Sports Cars ’57” by Hugh Morton.

A unique situation occurred at the 1958 hill climb: the new winning driver drove the defending champion’s old car.  When Billy Joe Patton, along with 1958 Queen Judy Kincaid, presented the winning trophy to Phil Styles of Burnsville, he stood beside that same Mercury-powered Davis Special that Ed Welch had driven in ’57.  Styles continued the tradition by setting a record run of 3:19.9.

The first weekend in June of 1959 proved to be a busy time at Grandfather Mountain.  The Carolina Golf Writers Association held a tournament at the Linville Country Club and that was followed by a second tournament sponsored by the Carolinas Golf Association pros—and fifty drivers ran the Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb, now in its sixth year.  The late arrival of the radio car delayed the start of the race, and overcast skies and windy conditions prevented a record run, but 5,000 spectators saw Phil Styles of Burnsville power his Davis Special to a winning time of 3:28 to receive the Julian Morton Cup by Queen Norma Jean McMillan.

The 1960 race was interrupted by showers, but the 4,000 spectators didn’t seem to mind as they cheered Austin-Healey driver J. T. Putney from Asheville as the overall winner.  Hill Climb Queen Jane Joyner from Raleigh, and UNC football legend Charlie Justice presented the Julian Morton Cup to Putney.

The Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb became the oldest sports car event in the south with the 1961 event as drivers from six states competed.  The estimated crowd of 6,000 saw a whopping 17.8 seconds clipped off Phil Styles’s 1958 record.  Orlando, Florida driver Bill Stuckworth set the new mark of 3:02.1 driving a Siata-Corvette.

The 1962 Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb was originally scheduled for June 9-10, but on May, 11, 1962, Hugh Morton made an important announcement.  “We have been pleased with the sponsorship of the sports car hill climb at Grandfather Mountain for the past eight years, and are quite relieved that in those years we have not had an accident in which either driver or spectator was seriously injured.  We have decided to quit the event while we are ahead.

Spectators watching the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb circa the early 1960s. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Spectators watching the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb circa the early 1960s. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

“As the Grandfather Mountain climb became more popular, it became increasingly difficult to run it without having spectators too close to the road while the sports cars were racing against the clock at high speeds and spectators were climbing to precarious places to watch the event. . . . Our principal concern has always been that a thoughtless spectator could be seriously hurt, since we could not control spectator behavior along the two and a half mile road leading to the parking area near the Mile High Swinging Bridge.”

In early June, the Sports Car Club of America announced the scheduling of a four-hour endurance race for June 10, 1962 in Columbia, South Carolina to replace the Grandfather Mountain event.

Twenty four years later, in the spring of 1985, Morton was approached by a group of sports car drivers from the Chimney Rock Hill Climb, wanting him to revisit the climb at Grandfather.  Although he knew it would be a challenge, Morton wanted to help the guys so he set up a modified course and scheduled an early June race date. The new course would be one-mile in length from the parking lot at the habitat area to the parking lot at the Mile High Swinging Bridge. It would have a vertical rise of 600 feet, and feature thirteen turns that sports writer John Davidson described as ranging from fast sweepers to first gear ‘creepers.’

Race day dawned wet and foggy, but Mike Green, driving a “Chap-Mazda Special” was able to post a winning time of 1:13.982 on the short course.  As Morton suspected, the day was far from a success.  Grandfather Mountain’s Harris Prevost, Vice President of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, described that race day situation:

“Obviously, we could not have anyone else on the summit road when they were racing. Thus, everywhere there was a chance a car could pull out on the road, we had to have someone there to keep them where they were . . . people at the two picnic areas, Black Rock Parking Lot, Nature Museum and Top, all had to stay in place until all the cars made their run. This did not sit well with our guests, to say the least. . . . Being told to wait 30-45 minutes did not work.”

Before the race day ended, discussions were already underway about the future of the race. It was agreed to move the 1986 event to a September time when normal Grandfather traffic would be less. The September time was a goodwill gesture but it didn’t work much better, plus the number of spectators had dwindled to just a few friends of drivers.  So, the event was once again discontinued and those Chimney Rock drivers moved to Beech Mountain where they started a new event.

In 2014, Arcadia Publishers of Charleston, South Carolina published a Grandfather Mountain book as part of their “Images of America” series.  On the front cover, the editors chose an action photograph of the Bob Davis Special at one of the 1950s climb to the top. (The image was taken by Hugh Morton photographic contemporary Sebastian Sommer).

The Morton collection finding aid lists more than 300 photographs of the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb, 17 of which are viewable online.

When Carolina’s Roy Williams and Villanova’s Jay Wright were assistants

The anguished facial expression of UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith (second from left) makes you wonder if assistant coach Roy Williams, far left, is doing his happy dance . . . or not . . . during UNC's 1982 East Region Final played at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 21, 1982. Others on the UNC bench (L to R) are unknown, #43 Jeb Barlow, Chris Brust, #32 John Brownlee, and Warren Martin. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

The anguished facial expression of UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith (second from left) makes you wonder if assistant coach Roy Williams, far left, is doing his happy dance . . . or not . . . during UNC’s 1982 East Region Final played at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 21, 1982. Others on the UNC bench (L to R) are unknown, #43 Jeb Barlow, Chris Brust, #32 John Brownlee, and Warren Martin. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

UNC’s ascent to the 1982 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship included a confrontation with Villanova in the East Region Final won by the Tar Heels, 70 to 60.  In 1991 the two universities squared off again in the East Region bracket, an 84 to 69 UNC win in the second round, played in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse, New York.  On the sidelines of those two respective games were assistant coaches who will find themselves as helmsmen during tonight’s contest for the 2016 national championship in Houston: UNC’s Roy Williams seen above as assistant to Dean Smith in 1982, and Jay Wright, seen below, as assistant to Rollie Massimino in 1991.  (A similar photograph by Morton can be seen in the online collection.)

Villanova Head Coach Rollie Massimino (left) and Assistant Coach (and current Villanova Head Coach) Jay Wright. Photograph by Hugh Morton, copped by the author. A similar photograph can be seen in the online Morton collection.

Villanova Head Coach Rollie Massimino (left) and Assistant Coach (and current Villanova Head Coach) Jay Wright. Photograph by Hugh Morton, copped by the author. A similar photograph can be seen in the online Morton collection.

In between those two face-offs was Villanova’s victory over UNC for the 1985 Mideast Region Final, won by Villanova 65 to 44 on the Wildcats way to winning the national championship.  At that time Wright was coaching in Division III at the University of Rochester, and Williams was still the assistant coach at UNC.  Hugh Morton photographed that game but only a shot from the UNC locker is in the online collection.

Back in 2009 Jack Hilliard wrote a post titled “UNC vs. Villanova: 1982 and 1985.” when these school faced each other during the opening round of “Final Four” play.  UNC won handily, 83 to 69.  Those who prefer the lighter shade of blue will be rooting for another Tar Heel title tonight.

Back to the future: 1992–1993?

Walking to my office from the bus stop this morning while talking with a fellow bus rider, I wondered if Duke and UNC ever won national titles back-to-back.  Checking the records books (okay, Wikipedia), I learned that the answer is yes!  Duke won the national title in 1991 and 1992, followed by UNC in 1993.

Victorious UNC men's basketball team after the 1993 NCAA championship game. Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

Victorious UNC men’s basketball team after the 1993 NCAA championship game. Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

Hugh Morton traveled to Indianapolis in 1991 when both schools reached the Final Four.  UNC lost its national semifinal to Kansas, coached by Roy Williams, 79 to 73.  Morton hung around town and returned for the championship game to witness Duke’s downing of Kansas 72 to 65.

1991 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions Duke Blue Devils celebrating with trophy, in Indianapolis, IN. L to R on podium: #5 Bill McCaffrey, #32 Christian Laettner (background), #33 Grant Hill, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, #23 Brian Davis, #12 Thomas Hill, #11 Bobby Hurley, and Clay Buckley (far right). Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions Duke Blue Devils celebrating with trophy, in Indianapolis, IN. L to R on podium: #5 Bill McCaffrey, #32 Christian Laettner (background), #33 Grant Hill, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, #23 Brian Davis, #12 Thomas Hill, #11 Bobby Hurley, and Clay Buckley (far right). Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

Morton did not make the trek to Minneapolis for Duke’s championship at the 1992 Final Four with UNC’s Southeast Regional loss to Ohio State in Lexington, Kentucky, but he certainly was not going know what it means to miss New Orleans in 1993.  Follow the “1993” link to our story about that game, published in March 2013.

Duke was last years’s national champion.  Will UNC follow in their footsteps this year and make history repeat itself?

 

 

When last they met here

Indiana's Dan Dakich guards UNC's Michael Jordan during the 1984 NCAA East Regional Semifinal in Atlanta, Georgia. Indiana head coach Bob Knight watches the action in the background. In those days UNC wore Converse shoes. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

Indiana’s Dan Dakich guards UNC’s Michael Jordan during the 1984 NCAA East Regional Semifinal in Atlanta, Georgia. Indiana head coach Bob Knight watches the action in the background. In those days UNC wore Converse shoes. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

It was his last college game.  An upset that still rankles a quarter-century later, like a large pebble in his Air Jordans.

—Mike Lopresti, sportswriter, March 3, 2009

This coming Friday night, the UNC Tar Heels will face the Indiana Hoosiers’ in the East Regional Semifinal of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The two schools last met in the East Regional semifinal round thirty-two years ago today on March 22, 1984 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Michael Jordan played his last game as a Tar Heel that day, because the Hoosiers emerged with a 72-68 victory.

According to sportswriter Mike Lopresti, who wrote an article in 2009 titled “After 25 years, Jordan still frustrated by loss to Hoosiers in tourney,” Indiana head coach Bobby Knight made a few strategic changes that led to their upset win over the number one seed UNC: “He ditched his beloved motion offense and spread the floor, to better combat Dean Smith’s trapping defenses . . . and . . . put a blue-collar defender named Dan Dakich on Jordan. Dakich was ordered to deny Jordan the backdoor cut, the post-up and offensive rebounds. Fail at any, and he was on the bench.  Dakich learned of his assignment a few hours before the game. Already ill, he went back to his room and threw up.”

Jordan fouled twice early in the game and it was he who spent unexpected minutes on the bench.  Jordan told Lopresti in an interview: “When I got back in the second half, I felt like I was trying to cram 40 minutes into 20 minutes,” he said. “I could never find any sync in my game.”

A post last week listed all the NCAA basketball tournaments photographed by Hugh Morton.  The list did not include 1984.  Once I heard that these two teams would play against each there once again, I immediately flashed on a photograph I’ve had on my office door for several years until very recently:

Michael Jordan takes a jump shot during the 1984 NCAA East Regional semifinal. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

Michael Jordan takes a jump shot during the 1984 NCAA East Regional semifinal. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

I lived in Indiana for fourteen years before moving to North Carolina to work in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, so it was a fitting photograph—my new state rising above my old state.  What stuck in my mind’s eye, though, was the 1984 banner in the lower right corner.  That’s when I knew I could add another tournament to Morton’s list.  Checking the finding aid revealed that he also photographed the opening rounds played in Charlotte.

In the Morton collection there is one roll of 35mm black-and-white film and second roll of color transparencies.  The latter are mostly substandard as Morton missed focused on most of his exposures.  Only one color image is online; the description, however, did not mention that the game was in the NCAA tournament so it did not turn up in my search.

Today we (that is, our scanning technician) scanned the roll of black-and-white negatives and present three of Morton’s better photographs from the game.

Matt Doherty dribbles toward the lane while Indiana forward Mike Giomi defends. Tar Heel guard Buzz Peterson looks on, (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.)

Matt Doherty dribbles toward the lane while Indiana forward Mike Giomi defends. Tar Heel guard Buzz Peterson looks on, (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.)

Hugh Morton photographs the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Four years ago today, my fellow co-worker Bill Richards passed away while watching the Tar Heels play their “Sweet Sixteen” game against Creighton in the 2012 NCAA tournament.  In addition to being an avid UNC football and basketball fan, Bill was the senior digitization technician in the Carolina Digital Library and Archives.  In 1982 Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper.  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports Information.  He began working in the Library Photographic Services unit in 1998, but continued working for Sports information into the 2000s.  Each year at this time I dedicate a post about UNC basketball to Bill.

Tar Heel Eric Montross lofts a shot as Kansas Jayhawk Greg Ostertag defends during the 1993 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament National Semifinal matchup. Will the Tar Heels and Kansas face one another again in 2016? (Hugh Morton photograph cropped by the author.)

Tar Heel Eric Montross lofts a shot as Kansas Jayhawk Greg Ostertag defends during the 1993 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament National Semifinal matchup. Will the Tar Heels and Kansas face one another again in 2016? (Hugh Morton photograph cropped by the author.)

By my count, Hugh Morton photographed during seventeen eighteen more than twenty NCAA men’s basketball tournaments—in some years at multiple locations, such as 1991 when Morton traveled to East Rutherford for the East Regional and to Indianapolis for the Final Four.  In last year’s post I counted fourteen, so below is an updated list with several new links to images in the online collection.  Bill Richards would have loved this much detail!  Did I miss any this time around?

The man responsible for transmitting The Madness


Prolog

It’s a curious malady that sweeps the ACC nation just before most of us catch spring fever.  Many of us deal with the disorder by sitting in front of our TV sets for hours listening to basketball announcers and analysts drone on with a strange and curious language that only those who are infected with the ailment can understand:

“With the game on the line, he tickles the twine with the 3-ball from downtown, to get the “W” and advance to the next level of the big dance and now with a chance to win all the marbles up for grabs . . .”

It’s known as “March Madness” and there is no known cure.

Castleman D. Chesley, circa 1970s-1980s. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Castleman D. Chesley, circa 1970s-1980s. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)


The Madness is upon us with the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament on RayCom Sports and ESPN, but what would it be like without that wall-to-wall TV coverage?  There was a time in the early days when ACC basketball was only on radio, but one man saw a bright future for the sport on TV.

Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard profiles the man who is often called the father of ACC basketball on television, C.D. Chesley.

He put ACC basketball on the map, about 10 years ahead of everyone else, and they are still trying to catch up.

Hugh Morton, March 8, 2003


In the early 1950s sports television was nothing like it is today.  I remember as a little kid watching the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 on the Amoco Redskins Network.  There were no replays, so in order to see a favorite play for a second time, I had to wait until the following Friday night when the local TV station ran a program called National Pro Highlights.  The program, produced by a company in Philadelphia called Tel Ra Productions, showed filmed highlights of the preceding Sunday’s games.

Castleman DeTolley Chesley was a member of the production team at Tel Ra.  Chesley had a football background having played freshman football at UNC in 1934.  He then moved to the University of Pennsylvania where he was football captain and was also a member of the Penn traveling comedy troupe.  Following graduation he became Penn’s athletic director, but he kept his finger on broadcasting’s pulse.  Chesley later worked with both ABC and NBC coordinating college football coverage with the NCAA.

During the 1956–1957 college basketball season, Chesley became intensely interested in the UNC Tar Heels coached by Frank McGuire as they worked their way through an undefeated season.  The 27 and 0 Tar Heels then beat Yale in Madison Square Garden during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  At this point, Chesley made his move. Being familiar with the NCAA ins and outs, he was able to set up a three-station regional network for the finals of the Eastern Regional played at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Although station WPFH-TV in Wilmington, Delaware was the switching point, the three stations were in Durham, Greensboro, and Charlotte.  Matt Koukas, a former Philadelphia Warrior NBA star, called the play-by-play.

Even before Carolina had won the two-game regional in Philly, Chesley was already setting up the network for the national finals in Kansas City, Missouri and added two additional stations.  The semi-final with Michigan State and the final with Kansas were both triple-overtime games.  Some folks who watched those two games say that the madness for ACC basketball was born that weekend.  Castleman D. Chesley would most likely agree with those folks.

The next logical step was to approach athletic directors at ACC schools about the possibility of doing weekly football and basketball games during the regular season. In the beginning, ADs and head coaches were not in favor of adding TV to the schedule. They were afraid that people would stay home and watch on TV, rather than attend the games. Chesley was able to convince them otherwise, pointing out how television could be used as a recruiting tool as well as fund raising opportunities.

On October 12, 1957 the first ACC football TV game was broadcast, a game from Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland between the University of Maryland and Wake Forest. Charlie Harville and Jim Simpson made up the on-air broadcast team. Three other games were telecast during the ’57 football season: one from NC State, one from UNC, and one from Duke. While the football games were successful, Chesley had his eye on basketball. On December 7, 1957, the first ACC regular season basketball game was telecast on a regional network. The game was Carolina vs. Clemson from Woollen Gym on the UNC campus.

Seated are (L to R) Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jim Thacker, with Castleman Chesley (standing) behind the scenes at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Marquette basketball during the 1977 NCAA finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

Seated are (L to R) Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jim Thacker, with Castleman Chesley (standing) behind the scenes at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Marquette basketball during the 1977 NCAA finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

In those early days, the C.D. Chesley Company consisted of three people: Irving “Snuffy” Smith, Peggy Burns, and Mr. Chesley.  From the beginning Chesley used equipment from WUNC-TV and students from the University’s Radio, Television, and Motion Picture Department.  WUNC-TV’s director John Young managed the personnel and equipment. Play-by-play broadcasters like Harville, Simpson, Dan Daniels, Woody Durham, and Jim Thacker, and analysts like Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jeff Mullins were brought in to handle the on-air while directors like John Young from WUNC-TV, Norman Prevatte from WBTV in Charlotte, and Frank Slingland from NBC-TV in Washington called the shots, often from an old converted Trailways bus that UNC-TV used in the early days.

Television coverage of ACC basketball caught on just like Chesley said it would, and his main sponsor Pilot Life Insurance Company became about as famous as the ACC teams.  People across the ACC nation could sing along . . .

Sail with the Pilot at the wheel,
On a ship sturdy from its mast to its keel . . .

C.D. Chesley was pleased with ACC basketball but he was always looking for additional challenges. In 1962 and ’63 he produced TV coverage of the Miss North Carolina Pageant to a regional network of station across the Tar Heel state, and in 1964 he produced regional coverage of the Greater Greensboro Open Golf Tournament.

Chesley was always on the lookout for more football coverage.  In the mid-1960s he started Sunday morning replay coverage of the preceding Saturday’s Notre Dame games; in 1967 was able to get Hall of Fame Broadcaster Lindsey Nelson to do the play-by-play and Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung to do the color commentary.  At one point the Notre Dame games were featured on 136 stations and Nelson became known as that “Notre Dame announcer.”

Football commentator and former quarterback Paul Hornung (left) and sportscaster Lindsey Nelson (right), while doing play-by-play for a UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Notre Dame football game. Sports broadcast producer Castleman D. Chesley at center. The year 1975 appears to be printed on Hornung's employee tag. Notre Dame scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Tar Heels 21-14 at Kenan Memorial Stadium on October 11, 1975.

Football commentator and former quarterback Paul Hornung (left) and sportscaster Lindsey Nelson (right), while doing play-by-play for a UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Notre Dame football game. Sports broadcast producer Castleman D. Chesley at center. The year 1975 appears to be printed on Hornung’s employee tag. Notre Dame scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Tar Heels 21-14 at Kenan Memorial Stadium on October 11, 1975.

C.D. Chesley started small but his broadcasts were always first class productions.  By the 1970s he was broadcasting two ACC basketball games a week.  On January 14, 1973 just before the Washington Redskins met the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII, Chesley put together a patch-work national network for the ACC basketball game between North Carolina State and Maryland.  It was big time and NC State All America David Thompson became a national sensation.

The C.D. Chesley Company and ACC basketball continued as household names for twenty-four years through the 1981 season.  At that point ACC basketball was so big that other broadcasters with bigger budgets wanted in on the action.  Chesley’s one million-dollar rights fee could not compete with the likes of MetroSports who offered three million for the 1982 season and RayCom Sports of Charlotte who paid fifteen million for the rights for three seasons starting in 1983.  RayCom continues today as the network for ACC basketball.

At the 1977 Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament, Castleman D. Chesley received a plaque from ACC Commissioner Bob James in recognition of Chelsey's vision in establishing the ACC Television Network. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

At the 1977 Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament, Castleman D. Chesley received a plaque from ACC Commissioner Bob James in recognition of Chelsey’s vision in establishing the ACC Television Network. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

“His place in the history of ACC basketball is phenomenal, getting the sport out there in front of the public,” said Tar Heel broadcaster Woody Durham in a 2003 interview.  “We all knew how exciting ACC basketball was, but here was a guy who came along and let the public see it.”

On April 10, 1983, Castleman D. Chesley lost his battle with Alzheimer’s.  He was laid to rest in a small cemetery near his home at Grandfather Mountain.  He was 69 years old.
Four years later the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inducted Chelsey in the spring of 1987.  Hugh Morton and Ed Rankin, in their 1988 book, Making a Difference in North Carolina, devoted eight pages of words and pictures to “the man who put ACC basketball on the map.”

 

Charlie’s angel

Charlie Justice, Sarah Justice, Mrs. Chan Highsmith, and Chan Highsmith during a 1949 Sugar Bowl party in New Orleans.

Charlie Justice, Sarah Justice, Mrs. Chan Highsmith, and Chan Highsmith during a 1949 Sugar Bowl party in New Orleans.

On this day twelve years ago, the state of North Carolina lost a treasure—and Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard and his wife Marla lost a dear friend.  Sarah Alice Hunter Justice passed away in Shelby, North Carolina at age 79.  Today, Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of a very special lady.

She was an angel here on earth, the epitome of a lady, always a gleam in her eye, and she never raised her voice.          —Jane Browne, Justice family friend, 2/18/04

It was early in the spring term, 1942, at Lee H. Edwards High in Asheville.  Football star Charlie Justice knew he was going to be late for class, so he applied some of his football skills and began to run down the hall.  In the process he ran over Sarah Alice Hunter.  She laughed and didn’t make anything of it.  Charlie was impressed, and later asked her out.  A notation in the campus newspaper’s “Rumors Afloat” column on March 20th said, “Charlie looks like he’s finally settled down to one girl—Nice going Sarah.”

Following her graduation in May 1942, Sarah headed to Appalachian State in Boone, but decided to return home to Asheville at Christmas.  Charlie finished at Lee Edwards on May 28, 1943, and was off to the Navy at Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland.  He continued playing football, while Sarah took a job with the Naval Observatory in nearby Washington, D. C.

Ten days after Charlie led Bainbridge to a 46 to 0 win over the University of Maryland, he went on a well deserved leave.  At the same time, Sarah took a brief leave from her job. The two headed to Asheville, where they were married at Trinity Episcopal Church on November 23, 1943.

Following his military obligation, Charlie and Sarah moved back to North Carolina and enrolled at UNC on Valentine’s Day, 1946.  Since Charlie was eligible for the GI Bill, Sarah got his football scholarship, thus becoming the first female to attend Carolina on a football scholarship.  In Chapel Hill, Charlie’s football heroics became legendary and on football Saturdays Sarah was always in the stands, cheering him on wearing her special good luck hat.  On August 23, 1948, the Justice family increased by one with the birth of son Charles Ronald. (They called him Ronnie.)

SMU All America football player Doak Walker, Doak's wife Norma, Sarah Justice, UNC All America football player Charlie Justice, Julia Morton, Hugh Morton, on the stoop of the Mortons' home in Wilmington. Walker and Justice were participants in the 1950 Azalea Festival.

SMU All America football player Doak Walker, Doak’s wife Norma, Sarah Justice, UNC All America football player Charlie Justice, Julia Morton, Hugh Morton, on the stoop of the Mortons’ home in Wilmington. Walker and Justice were participants in the 1950 Azalea Festival.

Following his playing days at Carolina, Charlie signed on with the Washington Redskins for four seasons.  In 1952, daughter Barbara joined the family and they returned to North Carolina in 1955, where they were often Hugh Morton’s guests at events in Wilmington and Grandfather Mountain.  They especially liked the Highland Games and Gathering of the Scottish Clans each July.

Over the years, Charlie and Sarah offered their name, their time, their talent, and their money to just about every cause in the Tar Heel state from Chapel Hill to Asheville to Greensboro . . . from Hendersonville to Flat Rock and Cherryville.  They were there when needed.  Sarah gave much of her time to the causes that improve the lives of the mentally challenged.  In Cherryville, she helped raise funds for Gaston Residential Services, which provides housing for the handicapped. The Special Olympics program was also close to her heart.  In 1989, when the Charlotte Treatment Center named a wing of its facility for Charlie, they also named a wing of the facility for Sarah.

Sarah and Charlie justice during their 50th wedding anniversary party.

Sarah and Charlie justice during their 50th wedding anniversary party.

On June 11, 1993, Charlie and Sarah lost their son Ronnie…the victim of a heart attack. He was 44 years old.  Following Carolina’s win over Duke 38 to 24 on November 26, 1993, a special celebration was held in the Carolina Inn on the UNC campus. While the win was celebrated, the real reason for the celebration was to offer sincere congratulations to Charlie and Sarah Justice on their 50th wedding anniversary, which was actually on November 23rd but game day three days later gave everybody a good reason for a celebration. The invitation for the event set the stage for the event:

A Golden Anniversary

Should be shared with family and friends.

Please join Billy, Barbara, Emilie

And Sarah Crews, Leah, David

And Beth Overman and in spirit

And loving memory Ronnie Justice,

In celebration of the fifty year

Marriage of Sarah and Charlie Justice.

 

There were family members, teammates, friends, and fans in attendance. Following a family toast by Barbara, Tar Heel Head Football Coach Mack Brown offered congratulations and spoke about the importance of Carolina’s football heritage. And throughout the ceremony, Hugh Morton was there with camera in hand documenting every phase of the event.

You didn’t need to be around Charlie Justice very long before it became very clear that his asking Sarah to marry him was the most important event in his life.  Although she was often thought of as Charlie’s wife, Sarah Justice didn’t fit the old saying, “Behind every great man stands a great woman . . . .” Charlie and Sarah stood side by side . . . they were a team.  They were connected. Their love story was the stuff of storybooks.  Sarah was always there . . . but chose to be just outside the spotlight.

In a 1995 interview with Justice Biographer Bob Terrell, Charlie talked about how the “Hand of Providence” placed him at the right place at the right time: “If I hadn’t knocked Sarah Hunter down while scuffling in the hall in high school, she might never have noticed me.  You bet that was providential!”

Soon after the Terrell biography was published in early 1996, Charlie began a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s—a battle he would lose at 3:25 AM on Friday, October 17, 2003.  A memorial service celebrating his life was held at The Cathedral of All Souls in the Biltmore section of Asheville on Monday, October 20th.  Asheville Citizen-Times senior writer Keith Jarrett beautifully described the scene outside the church following the ceremony.

“It was one of several warm, touching scenes on a beautiful, cloud-free day with a sky the color of you know what.  Sarah sat in a wheelchair just outside the Cathedral as the UNC Clef Hangers, an all-male a cappella group, softly sang James Taylor’s ballad ‘Carolina in My Mind.’  Sarah tilted her head and was just inches away from the singers.  For a brief moment she closed her eyes, soaking in the words and perhaps recalling the memories of a marriage of love and devotion of 60 years.”

On November 4, 2003, I received a note from Barbara Crews: “Mother and I are at the beach.  Mom loves the ocean.  I think she has such peace now, she feels her job is done, and she did it well. . . . She is the best person I have ever known.”

There was a message on my answering machine when I arrived home from work on Monday, February 9, 2004.  It was from Billy Crews telling me that his mother-in-law had passed away earlier that day.  It had been 115 days since Charlie died. Marla and I had visited Sarah two days before on Saturday, February 7th at Hospice at Wendover in Shelby.  Sarah Justice was 79-years-old.

In an article in The Charlotte Observer issue of Wednesday, February 18, 2004 titled “Caregiver more than Mrs. Choo Choo,” Gerry Hostetler talked with some of Sarah’s family.  Son-in-law Billy Crews said, “She was always full of grace, and for her whole life a caregiver. She enjoyed doing things for other people and being out of the limelight.”  Granddaughter and namesake Sarah Fowler added, “She was a very giving person who always put others’ needs in front of her own. She was the backbone of this family and kept us going.”

Finally, Barbara ended the interviews with this: “She was just a saint, the kind of person you want to be around.”