William Friday’s condition ‘slightly improved’

jstancill@newsobserver.comMay 19, 2012 

William Friday in a 2005 file photo

2005 FILE PHOTO - UNC

— The family of William Friday issued a statement saying that the retired University of North Carolina president is doing better, but remains in critical condition at UNC Hospitals.

Friday, 91, has been hospitalized in critical condition for a few days, but his family said in a statement that “he is slightly improved after having a permanent pacemaker placed” on Thursday.

“He and his family very much appreciate the outpour of love and support shown from everyone,” the statement said. “They also appreciate the respect for their need for privacy during this time.”

Also, a celebration to honor William and Ida Friday will go on as planned Saturday night at the N.C. Museum of History.

The event bestows a lifetime achievement award on the Fridays for their long service to Paul Green’s Symphonic Outdoor Drama as part of the 75th anniversary of the “Lost Colony” production. Ira David Wood III will emcee the program, 6:30-10:30 p.m., which will also be a fundraiser for the organization. The suggested donation is $75.

Organizers said the event would go on at the request of the Friday family.

Friday led the University of North Carolina system for three decades, from 1956 to 1986. He has been an influential leader in higher education nationally and is a revered figure in North Carolina. For 41 years, he has been the host of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina People,” a weekly interview show.

He suffered heart problems in recent years, including a mild heart attack in 2008 and valve replacement surgery in 2009.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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