Lenoir County businessman, philanthropist Felix Harvey dies
By Staff Reports
Published in News on January 5, 2014 1:50 AM
Lenoir County businessman and philanthropist Felix Harvey died Thursday. He was 93.
Harvey was well-known across the state for his business acumen and unwavering support of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was instrumental in the formation of the state Global TransPark in Kinston, helping raise millions of dollars from private sources to go along with state money appropriated for the project.
Harvey was chairman of Harvey Enterprises & Affiliates, which is involved in agriculture, real estate, financial institutions and insurance, and was founder of the Little Bank and Tidewater Transit Co. At one time or another, he served on the board of directors of five companies on the New York Stock Exchange. Harvey was inducted into the N.C. Business Hall of Fame in 2001.
He donated millions to the university through an endowment that bears his name to support a variety of institutional initiatives, among them undergraduate education, research and economic development in the areas of medicine, business, science, the humanities, law and the environment..
"Felix Harvey did so much for Kinston, Lenoir County and eastern North Carolina that I can't name it all," said former state Sen. Harold Hardison of Deep Run, who worked with Harvey on a variety of projects to boost development in the eastern part of the state. "He was a good man with a big heart. He did a lot of things to help people that no one knew about. He was a wealthy man but you would not have known it if you met him. He was just a down-to-earth individual."
Harvey served on the UNC Board of Trustees, was a member of its bicentennial campaign committee and served as president of its educational foundation and the UNC Business Foundation. He was awarded the General Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Medal in 1995.
Harvey was a native of Lenoir County and took over the family business at the age of 29 following the retirement of his uncle, Leo Harvey. His own father had died at the age of 38. Harvey began his business career at the age of 7, selling produce from his grandmother's garden. The Harvey family business started in 1871 as a general store, expanding over the years to include farm supplies, dry goods, livestock, insurance, cotton brokerage and farm equipment.
A 1943 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvey served on a PT boat in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
He served on the Lenoir County Board of Education during the 1960s and '70s.
Former Gov. Jim Hunt once said that if someone created a top ten list of the people who had done the most to help provide jobs and opportunities for people in North Carolina and who put their own resources into projects that would benefit the state, that the list would have to include Harvey.
The family was expected to meet with friends Monday at the Kinston Country Club. Howard-Carter Funeral Home in Kinston said Friday that services weren't yet planned.