Duplin names three to county Hall of Fame
By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on November 6, 2011 1:50 AM
Betty Ray McCain, 81, stands in between a portrait of Colonel William Dickson and a photograph of Mary Lyde Hicks Williams, deceased inductees to the Duplin County Hall of Fame.
KENANSVILLE -- Thanks to an unprecedented tie, three honorees were inducted into the Duplin County Hall of Fame Thursday. Typically only one living and one deceased person are inducted each year.
"The board decided to break with tradition and induct both deceased," Hall of Fame committee President Davis Brinson said.
Betty Ray McCain -- this year's living recipient -- was the last person inducted at The Country Squire in Warsaw after a speech that did not reveal her identity until it's last few sentences.
Born and raised in Duplin County, Mrs. McCain, 81, is the mother of two children. Currently she lives in Wilson and is an elder in her congregation, vice president of the North Carolina Mental Health Association and director of the Carolina Center for Medical Excellence.
She also serves on child advocacy committees and is involved with many academic institutions. She has received more than 40 prestigious honors and is listed in Who's Who in five categories, including Who's Who in the World.
"Her service was outstanding, with funding for the arts and for historic preservation reaching record-breaking levels," speaker Anne Taylor said of Mrs. McCain's eight years as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources after she was appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt.
"This is such a very kind thing they've done and I deeply appreciate it," Mrs. McCain said. "I came tonight not knowing I was gonna get it."
She said she attended the ceremony since her cousin, Mary Lyde Hicks Williams was being honored.
Ms. Lenore Tucker accepted the award on behalf of Mrs. Williams, who died in 1959 at age 93, and who is considered one of the state's outstanding artists, painting more than 400 portraits during her lifetime.
She and her husband had four sons, all of whom graduated from the University of North Carolina and served during World War I.
She served as president of the Daughters of the Confederacy, state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, vice president of the state Historical Society and much more. The monument in Faison was even erected largely due to her efforts, speaker Inga Flake said.
"In her day, women were not encouraged to be active outside the home," Mrs. Flake said. "It is amazing she could do so much in her time. I wonder what she could have done with a Blackberry and a computer."
Mrs. Flake also stressed the fact that Mrs. Williams was a Democrat.
The other inductee Thursday was the only one born outside of North Carolina. Colonel William Dickson, who died in 1820 at age 80, was born in Chester, Pa., but moved to Duplin County when he was 5 years old and remained for the rest of his life.
His cousin, Martha Dickson accepted the award on his behalf.
Even with a limited education, Dickson worked his way to become a land surveyor for Englishman Henry McCulloch, a member of the North Carolina Colonial Assembly and a delegate to the first North Carolina Provincial Congress.
As a devoted Presbyterian, he opened up his home for worship services and was active in establishing Grove Presbyterian Church in 1757 and Grove Academy in 1785. He later wrote the first history of Duplin County per request of The Star, a Raleigh newspaper. He also served as a captain in the military.
Before the presentations of the awards, choir director Amanda Baker of Faison Presbyterian Church and her daughter Danielle Baker provided choral entertainment.
"My daughter takes voice and sings in chorus at North Duplin High School," Ms. Baker said. "It is in our three generations that we love music and love to share it."
To end the ceremony, Brinson recognized past nominees, living and deceased, and expressed appreciation to the awards selection committee.
"They all give 200 percent to give honor to those who came before us," Executive Director Anne Houston said of the Hall of Fame's selection committee and board members. "It makes me so proud to be a part of this county."
For a nomination form or more information about the 2012 Hall of Fame, send contact information to The Duplin County Hall of Fame P.O. Box 970, Kenansville, NC 28349.