07/26/04 — OPINION -- Friday's appeal

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OPINION -- Friday's appeal

By Gene Price
Published in News on July 26, 2004 1:57 PM

A recent discussion among friends was about the contributions to North Carolina made by Bill Friday, regarded by many of us as the state's most outstanding man of the last century. The president emeritus of the University of North Carolina system not only is a visionary but one who combines a low-key demeanor with an unsurpassed persuasiveness.

He probably could have held any position of his choice in the state -- or nation-- but chose never to seek elective office. As a relatively young man, he turned down an offer to be assistant secretary of education.

The question was raised: What is the secret to Bill Friday's effectiveness?

Indian Springs sage Henry Morrison Smith, characteristically, provided the answer. "Bill Friday," he observed, "is like a good pair of shoes that fits everybody comfortably."


George Busbee died recently down in Savannah. He had been Georgia's first two-term governor.

His passing, at 76, probably was of ho-hum interest to most folks hereabouts. But his obituary brought to mind something that happened several years ago in Mount Olive.

The obituary noted that during his campaigns Busbee had always referred to himself as "a workhorse, not a racehorse."

And that sparked recollection of the day a young Mount Olive man who had worked for several years as a top assistant to our secretary of state who was retiring. He was announcing his candidacy for the office.

A well-known political activist and campaign veteran was his opponent.

Our favorite son candidate explained to the Mount Olive gathering: "I am a workhorse. My opponent is a racehorse."

And from somewhere in the crowd a male voice groused, "That's the first time I have ever heard him referred to as a whole horse!"


And then there was the time a young state senator became disillusioned with his Republican Party's agenda and changed his registration to Democrat.

As fellow Republicans fretted, one of their wizened old-timers consoled them: "Look on the bright side. He has just increased the intelligence quotient of both parties."