Former Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. passed away on Monday, June 17, 2013 after a period of declining health. Born in Boone, NC to The Honorable James “Peck” Holshouser, Sr. and Virginia Dayvault Holshouser, Jim loved all of NC but especially his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. He was a graduate of Appalachian High, Davidson College and the UNC School of Law. After law school, Jim returned home to Boone to practice law and married the love of his life, Patricia Hollingsworth. Soon afterwards, he entered statewide politics and began his first term in the NC General Assembly in 1963. He served four terms in the House of Representatives and was Chairman of the NC Republican Party. Then in 1972, Holshouser was elected North Carolina’s 68th governor and the first Republican governor since 1896. He was the youngest governor ever elected and the last NC governor not eligible to run for a second term.
Because he began public service at such a young age, Holshouser’s accomplishments are too numerous to list. But his commitments to education, health care and economic development are evident throughout NC. Jim dearly loved NC, and he wanted to make sure that North Carolinians in rural counties had opportunities like those in cities. During his time in office, Holshouser expanded our system to make sure public kindergarten was available statewide, that those in rural counties had access to quality medical care, and that community colleges throughout our state were able to grow. Together with Dr. Bill Friday, Holshouser finalized the consolidation of the 16 campuses of The University of North Carolina under the Board of Governors and championed The University system as long as he lived. He remained an active public servant until just a few weeks ago as an active member of the Board of Governors for the University of North Carolina system, the National Mortgage Settlement task force, and the Public Policy and Affairs group with the law firm of Nexsen Pruet.
Until his death, Holshouser was a practicing attorney with his firm, Sanford Holshouser, in Pinehurst. Holshouser and Former NC Governor Terry Sanford joined forces in 1997 to promote strong economic development for North Carolina. And he partnered closely with Former Governor Jim Hunt to promote strong education and state-funded judicial elections and with Former UNC President Erskine Bowles, Tom Ross and all the UNC Presidents to promote a strong University. Holshouser was committed to working in partnership with both Republicans and Democrats out of his commitment to serve all North Carolinians.
A lifelong Presbyterian, Jim was a charter member of First Presbyterian Church in Boone, NC and, at his death, was a member of Brownson Memorial Presbyterian in Southern Pines where he served as elder, deacon, choir member, and Sunday School teacher over the years. He and Pat supported Hebron USA’s mission work in Chiapas, Mexico and helped bring a completed bible translation to the Tzeltal people in 2006. Jim’s deep and abiding faith in God and the teachings of the church shaped his entire outlook on life and his value system.
Jim was also a long-term kidney transplant survivor and a strong advocate for organ donation. His kidney disease was diagnosed before he began law school and was managed effectively through diet, then dialysis and eventually through a kidney transplant in 1986. In a delightful twist of fate, Jim died exactly 52 years after he and Pat were married on June 17, 1961.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Peck and Virginia Holshouser; his wife, Patricia Hollingsworth Holshouser, his sister, Laura Mast, and a baby boy in 1968. He is survived by his daughter, Ginny Holshouser Mills and husband, John, of Winston-Salem and daughters, Holly and Maggie; niece Malinda M. Rathbone and children, Morgan and Bailey; nephew Allen Mast and wife, Dana, and daughter Esther; niece Amy Mast; nephew Tim Mast and wife, Christine, and children, Olivia, Anabel and Audrey; sister-in-law Nancy H. Brown and children, Victor and wife, Sharon, and Deanna and son, Kasey; sister-in-law Linda H. Simms and husband, Tom, and children Amy, and Jeff, wife Heidi and son, Lucas; and a host of cousins and extended family.
While there were many institutions of higher education, charities and churches that he loved, Jim chose for all memorials in his name to be sent to his church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church, 330 S. May St., Southern Pines, NC 28387.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, June 21, 2013 at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian at 1:00 p.m.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, June 20, 2013 in the Fellowship Hall at Brownson Memorial from 6:00-8:30 p.m.
The family is grateful for the loving care Jim received at First Health and at St. Joseph’s of the Pines.