05/25/08 — Post offices named in honor of Wooten and Baddour

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Post offices named in honor of Wooten and Baddour

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on May 25, 2008 2:00 AM

Wayne County Commission-er Atlas Price Jr. remembers John Henry Wooten Sr. well.

He was one of his best friends, he said.

The two first met in the late 1960s/early 70s, when
Wooten was working with the
school system.

"I was on the county board of health and then on the board of education," Price said. "And our paths crossed sometimes."

In 1986, Wooten and Price ran in the primary election for county commissioner.

"And we were in the old hotel downtown on the second floor and when we both heard we had won, we celebrated in victory together," Price said.

Both went on to win the general election and served on the commission together.

"When you work with somebody, you get to know a lot about them," he added. "I learned that John Henry Wooten was a man of character very early on. ... He loved his wife. He loved his family. He loved people. ... He was a man of God and a man of love."

Price was just one of more than 200 who stood outside City Hall Friday morning to officially honor the naming of Goldsboro's two post offices for late city residents Wooten and Philip A. Baddour Sr.

Congressman G.K. Butter-field, city officials, family and friends took part in the dedication ceremony in remembrance of the two men who contributed so much to Goldsboro through their community service.

Wooten served the public school system for years. He was a science teacher, principal of Dillard High School, supervisor of instruction and assistant superintendent. He also taught at Wayne Community College and was selected by former President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve on the White House Commission for Education.

The educator was also a county commissioner for 12 years and was the commission's first African-American chairman. He served on the board of trustees for North Carolina A&T University and served in the Army during World War II. Wooten died in 2007 at the age of 82.

Baddour was a downtown merchant for more than 30 years and served on the City Council for 16 years where he served as mayor pro-tempore. When he retired from the council, he was honored with a key to the city and a resolution from the North Carolina League of Municipalities for his years of public service. Former Governor Jim Hunt honored him as a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Baddour died in 2002.

Former Goldsboro City Manager Richard Slozak said he has fond memories of Baddour.

"I met Phil in the 70s," Slozak said. "It wasn't until 1986 when became the city manager when I could fully appreciate Phil Baddour Sr. as a great individual.

"He wasn't pretentious. He didn't put on airs."

Baddour came to Slozak with a list of about a dozen concerns that citizens in the city had.

"I told him that the city didn't have the time or resources to worry with them," Slozak said. "Phil put a hand on my should and said, 'Son, you don't understand. I represent the city of Goldsboro.'"

Baddour told him that the concerns of the residents were his concerns.

"I immediately began taking notes," Slozak said, as the crowd laughed. "When I got home that day, my wife asked me how it had gone. I told her that I think I was adopted by a council member. ... I think a lot of people over the years that weren't family were called 'son' by him."

Naming a post office is a fine way to remember Baddour, Slozak said.

"Post offices are buildings that serve the community. He spent his life serving his community," he said.

Goldsboro Mayor Al King remembers both men well.

He said he was the fortunate one to have had the pleasure to know these individuals.

"Both of them lived within a mile from me, one way or the other," he said. "So this, to me, is extremely special."

Butterfield thought that it was only fitting that these men receive a program in their honor, a way for their friends and families to come together to show their thanks.

"These were two wonderful human beings," he said. "They were both friends of mine. ... When I learned that we could rename post offices, these names quickly came to my mind. ... Because of his (Wooten's) service, the lives of countless students were positively impacted. ... Phil Baddour always stood up for those who did not have a voice."

Family members of both men also stood up to speak about them and this honor.

Ernestine Whitted Wooten, Wooten's wife, said she tells people she is not a speaker.

"But today, I say, 'Good morning to everyone,'" she said with a broad smile on her face.

Philip Baddour Jr., Baddour's son, said that his father always talked about men like Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, "who stood up for what you call the little man," he said.

"When he got into office, he always made sure to do that, to stand up for the little man," he added.

Both families were presented with the bill authorizing the name change, complete with President George W. Bush's signature.

The Seymour Johnson Air Force Base honor guard and the Girls Ensemble from Eastern Wayne High
School were also a part of
the program.