09/26/06 — Wayne County business communities loses two leaders

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Wayne County business communities loses two leaders

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 26, 2006 1:48 PM

Wayne County lost two of its long-time business leaders over the weekend, with the deaths of Neal Seegars and Banks McNairy.

Seegars, 86, died Sunday at Wake Memorial Hospital. McNairy, 78, died Saturday at Kitty Askins Hospice Center.

Seegars, a former county agricultural agent, was a former hardware store owner and the founder of Seegars Fence Co.

McNairy was vice president of T.A. Loving Co.

Both men were active in public affairs in the Wayne County.

Seegars, who won the Bronze Star as a second lieutenant in the Army in World War II, was a former president of the county Chamber of Commerce and the county Committee of 100. He was instrumental in development of the Wayne County Livestock Association.

McNairy, a native of Wayne County, was the first president of Walnut Creek Country Club.

Funeral services for McNairy were held today. Services for Seegars will be held Wednesday.

Friends remembered both men as leaders. Both were members of St. Paul's United Methodist Church.

Ollie Toomey, former executive director of the chamber, said Seegars made an impact on the local economy as soon as he came to Wayne County in the 1940s as an agricultural agent.

"He was an astute businessman. He thought very strongly of the downtown area and the entire county," Toomey said.

Retired radio announcer Vassie Balcum said Seegars was civic-minded.

"He was always interested in promoting Wayne County," Balcum said.

Seegars helped promote Wayne County by being active in the county's Livestock Association, which sponsored the county fair every year.

Neighbor Borden Parker said Seegars was a man who was respected as much in the community as he was at work.

"He was a wonderful gentleman who cared very much about his family, church and community. He was instrumental in making Goldsboro and Wayne County a fine place to live," Parker said.

Toomey added that Seegars had envisioned a community building that could house 3,000 people and he became a leading advocate for the project. Just days before he died, the Goldsboro City Council approved moving forward with building a similar kind of community building.

Toomey said McNairy was a man who was "highly regarded and respected" throughout the county because he helped build a good portion of it during his 45 years with T.A. Loving, one of the largest construction companies in the eastern part of the state.

T.A. Loving President and Chief Executive Officer Sam Hunter worked with McNairy for more than 20 years. McNairy's father, who was one of the original owners of the company, helped build large sections of Fort Bragg in 1941, Hunter said.

McNairy followed in his father's footsteps as the project manager for the Wayne County courthouse additions and jail. McNairy also helped guide the construction of hospitals in Wilson and New Hanover counties and the New Hanover County judicial building, Hunter said.

Although Hunter and McNairy worked for the same company for more than two decades, Hunter said the two mostly worked in different departments. But every fall, Hunter, McNairy and the company's other top executives would go to McNairy's home south of Top Sail for an annual golf outing.

"Banks was always a happy person. He was a great person to play a round of golf with," Hunter said.

Balcum said he also has fond memories of playing golf with McNairy. Whether on the greens or in the community, Balcum added that McNairy always remained a gentleman.

"They were tremendous leaders in the community and will be missed much," Balcum said.

Dr. Durwood Tyndall knew both McNairy and Seegars very well. They were all in the same Sunday School class.

"Banks was a good man, one you could trust," Dr. Tyndall said.

McNairy was a man with a good sense of humor, said Dr. Tyndall.

"Neal was a very intelligent man with a good record in the Army," Dr. Tyndall said. "He even learned the Chinese language to deal with the Allies. But he never bragged on himself."

"The Sunday School class and I will miss both of these two men very much," said Dr. Tyndall. "They were very dear to us."