Duplin inducts two to Hall of Fame
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 5, 2004 1:59 PM
WARSAW -- Luther Clayton Herring Sr. and the late Preston B. Raiford have joined the ranks of the Duplin County Hall of Fame.
The people who nominated them said they were an inspiration.
Every November, the Duplin Hall of Fame recognizes and inducts an outstanding citizen from the past and present who helped make the county better for all its citizens. They're chosen by a committee of five people who are anonymous even to each other and represent a diverse background.
This year, the committee had to choose from 29 nominees, 19 deceased and 10 living. The awards were presented Thursday at Country Squire Restaurant.
Hall of Fame President Anne Houston said now is the time to start researching for nominations to the 2005 Hall of Fame.
The 2004 Hall of Famer, Clayton Herring, is brother to Dr. William Dallas Herring, who was inducted in 1996 when the Duplin Hall of Fame tradition began.
Clayton started volunteering to help put out fires when the only fire fighting equipment the town of Rose Hill had was a "bucket brigade." He carried the bucket.
In 1939 when the volunteers officially formed the Rose Hill Fire Department, he became a charter member.
By that time, the department had advanced to a hose cart. It had large wheels, and the volunteers would pull it by hand when they went to the fires. He helped pull the hose cart.
"I have been told by a reliable source that a short time later the fire department was able to secure their first motorized vehicle, a used Studebaker hearse," said the person who nominated him.
Sonny Sikes read the story: "I am not sure, but I believe they paid $25 for it. To make it functional they had to cut the top off so the hose could be carried to the fire."
Herring moved quickly through the ranks and became captain in 1950.
Four years later, he became assistant chief, and in 1960, he became the fire chief, a position he held until he retired in 2000 after 39 years of service as the chief.
During those 65 years of fire fighting, he avoided many out-of-town trips to make sure he could be close to home just in case.
"His dedication is unsurpassed in the history of the Rose Hill Fire Department, or in any organization or community," said the person who nominated him.
Sikes read other ways he inspired others in the community:
*He organized the first volunteer rescue squad in Duplin County and staffed it with Explorer Scouts. He stayed active in the Rose Hill Rescue Squad for 20 years.
*He helped organize the Duplin County Fireman's Association and became the first president, a position he held from 1960 until 1972.
*He was instrumental in beginning a fire training program. State Rep. Russell Tucker has said many of the firefighting standards he advocated have since become statewide standards.
Herring, who was a Rose Hill town commissioner and a member of the Rose Hill Lions Club, is vice president of Atlantic Heritage Corp. in Rose Hill. He is a self-taught master craftsman in cabinet making, custom moldings and furniture making. He and his wife, Nettie, have a son and a daughter.
"He is a humble man," said Sikes. "Someone said he has always given 150 percent."
Herring has received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, two Distinguished Service Awards from the Rose Hill Jaycees and the 1991 Duplin County Industrialist of the Year Award. The Boy Scouts honored him for organizing the first Explorer Scout Post in Rose Hill, and he was named the 1991 Duplin County Fireman of the Year. He received the Woodman of the World Service Award and the Elwyn Murray Jr. Community Service Award.
At his retirement party, Herring said, "I've done what things I could. ... I wish I could have done more. I believe in serving others; that's just who I am."
Preston B. Raiford, or "PB" as his friends called him, literally changed the face of the county's business, transportation and culture, said the person who nominated him.
He planted seeds that grew long after his death, and even today his influence is felt in Duplin County, said Hall of Fame Vice President Anne Taylor as she read from the nomination form. He used all of his "expertise, energy, skills and wide-ranged connections for the benefit of every area of the county and for everyone living here."
In September 1963, Raiford became the first executive director of the Duplin County Development Commission, where he served until his death in March of 1975. He was credited with bringing to Duplin two National Spinning plants, Reeves Brothers, Guilford East, Industrial Hydraulics, two sewing plants, a cold storage plant near Wallace and a turkey processing plant.
In 1975, he created the Industrial Development Planing Board for Duplin County and worked toward reorganizing the Duplin County Hospital board of directors.
He pushed for the building of Interstate 40 and worked for improvements to N.C. 24, N.C. 50 and U.S. 117.
His volunteer service included the following:
*He was program chairman, president, vice president and district committee finance chairman in the Rotary Club and was voted the club's Most Outstanding Rotarian.
*He was so active in the Boy Scouts that the Tuscarora Council presented him with the Silver Beaver Award.
*He was chairman, vice chairman and finance chairman of the Duplin County chapter of the American Red Cross.
*He led the effort to restore the Kenan property in Kenansville.
When he died, the Warsaw-Faison News said in an editorial that he was an "ambassador for Duplin." The person who nominated him said he "was a visionary and an inspiring leader."
One of Raiford's sayings was, "There's no limit to the good a man can do if he doesn't care who gets the credit."
His wife, Alice, and their four daughters and their families attended the banquet. One of his daughters, Christy, said they found the saying pressed beneath the glass on his desk.
"He loved God, he loved his family and he loved people," she said. "Thank you for honoring the man who touched so many lives just by being who he was."
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