Zebulon Doyle Alley, age 84, of Waynesville and Raleigh, passed away at Rex Hospital in Raleigh on Thursday morning, July 11, 2013. He was born in Sylva, North Carolina on August 9, 1928 to Doyle Davis Alley and Edith Purcell Alley. He is survived by sons Doyle D. Alley II, Randall G. Alley and wife, Ann M. Hoover, granddaughter Miranda Alley, brothers John ("Jack") Hampton Alley and Charles Purcell Alley, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister Corrine (“Connie”) Killian Withers.
Zeb was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle and a grandfather. He was a war hero, an FDR democrat, a Tar Heel, a lawyer, a state senator, a mentor to many and one of the most successful legislative lobbyists North Carolina has ever seen. He had a legendary wit and a gift for story-telling, demonstrated great skill in strategy and negotiation, but above all, he had an infectious love of life, family and people in general. He was loyal, generous to a fault, and a friend to everyone he met, humans and cats alike. His brother Charles recounted that many times he told his family and friends “You've got to be good to people.”
The Alley family tragically lost their father Doyle to pneumonia in 1936 when Zeb was only eight years old. Under those trying circumstances, made more difficult by the lingering effects of the Great Depression, Zeb's beloved mother “Edie” took the mantle of the family, skillfully instilling into all of her children her core values of love of family, honesty, education and hard work.
Edie, who became the first two-term president of the NC PTA, worked tirelessly to provide a sound education for all her children. Zeb chose to follow his lawyer father, mother (who had sacrificed her dream of taking the bar in order to raise the family) and uncle Judge Felix Eugene Alley, and undertook the educational journey that would lead to his eventual career in the law.
Zeb attended the public schools of Haywood County before transferring to Oak Ridge Military Academy where he earned his high school diploma. He received his BA degree in 1953 and LLB degree in 1955 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1948, to help ease the family's financial difficulties, Zeb interrupted his education and joined the Army. He left active service in 1950, entering the enlisted reserves, and prepared to return to UNC. However he was soon called back to active duty when the Korean War broke out, and within two months found himself in his first firefight serving as a forward observer in the 38th Infantry Regiment.
On March 3, 1951 he was involved in an intense battle in which he distinguished himself heroically, risking his own life for his fellow soldiers. He was seriously injured, but recovered, and carried pieces of shrapnel in his back, head and neck the rest of his life. He was awarded the Bronze Star with the “V” device for valor and the Purple Heart for his service.
He returned home with a renewed enthusiasm for life and college. "When I got back, I was a changed person. It helped me grow up," Zeb said. When he returned from the war, he went to visit the family of his best friend in the service, Lawrence Hunt, who was killed in battle in 1951. That visit led to his long-time friendship with the soldier's first cousin, former Governor Jim Hunt.
In 1953, while still in law school, Zeb married Dorothy Faye Jones of Chapel Hill in a service at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Chapel Hill. Married for 14 years, Zeb and Faye remained friends and worked together to raise their two children.
Zeb began his legal career as Assistant Director of the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill and later as an associate in the law offices of future NC Supreme Justice Joseph Branch in Enfield. He was North Carolina attorney at the Federal Land Bank in Columbia, SC before returning home to Waynesville to begin his own law practice. Eventually, he formed a partnership with his nephew Leon M. "Chip" Killian. He practiced there for approximately 20 years before moving his practice to Raleigh. Like his father, Zeb engaged in the general practice of law, helping people with all the serious and occasionally humorous legal problems of a small town.
In 1971, Zeb was elected to the NC General Assembly as the senator from the district including Haywood County. He sponsored legislation lowering the voting age to 18 and improving minimum housing standards for migrant laborers.
In 1981, Zeb became Legislative Counsel to Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., where he assisted in the passage of seat belt legislation in 1986 and the Good Roads Act providing revenue to repair potholes and improve the State's road system.
After his stint with Governor Hunt, he opened Alley Associates Inc. which immediately became among the most sought-after government relations consulting firms in the State, attracting a wide range of clients. Observers say some clients kept him on retainer just to avoid having him work against their interests with the opposition. The many associates that he trained and mentored are now among the most outstanding lobbyists in North and South Carolina.
As one of the State's most influential private lobbyists, he earned a first place ranking of "most influential lobbyists" in North Carolina for 16 consecutive years as determined by the NC Center for Public Policy and Research survey of legislators, lobbyists, and capital press corps.
In January 2007, Zeb merged his governmental affairs consulting firm into Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP where he joined his former law partner and nephew, Chip Killian, on the Government Relations Team.
Former Governor James B. Hunt Jr. once said of Zeb: "His success is due to his knowledge, his untiring work for his clients, and his commitment to the people of North Carolina. As my legislative counsel, he helped me get all my programs through. He knows just how far to push to get something done. His instincts are amazing."
Zeb was awarded the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine both by Democratic Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. and by Republican Governor James G. Martin.
Veterans' issues were his passion. As State Legislative Liaison for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veterans' organizations, a service he provided pro bono, he once said: "I carry the ball for all veterans in the General Assembly. I do what I can to keep veterans in the public eye at the State Legislature." To meet veterans' needs, he successfully obtained appropriations for long-term care facilities for the State, as well as two new veterans nursing homes, one in Kinston and one in Black Mountain. He worked for scholarships for the children of deceased soldiers and lobbied for officially observed veterans' memorial days. In 2009 and 2013, Zeb was honored by the State Veterans' Council and the American Legion for his service.
His past public service also included serving as the Chairman of the State Capitol Foundation Board of Directors, Chairman of the Task Force on Governmental Relationships of the Board of Visitors of the UNC Chapel Hill, a member of the NC Board of Alcohol Beverage Control, and commissioner of the NC Courts Commission.
As Legislative Counsel at the State Legislature, he ranked high for the Krispy Kremes he brought in frequently for legislators and staff. His St. Patrick's Day parties became legendary, as did his master recipe for his eastern North Carolina barbeque, despite being a mountain boy from Waynesville.
Zeb's philosophy of lobbying was straightforward, and derived from the values he learned at home. He once said: "I'm a lawyer, and I adhere to all the ethics of the legal profession, which are stronger than they are for lobbyists. ... I have always felt that when you are around people you have to let them know they can trust you. If you never give an inaccurate answer, you'll be effective. Never lie to anyone."
Zeb loved Carolina football and basketball, his family and many friends, and the North Carolina General Assembly.
There will be a celebration of Zeb's life at the NC State University Club in Raleigh on Tuesday evening, July 16, at 6pm. Services will be held at Wells Funeral Home in Waynesville, NC on Sunday, July 21. Receiving will begin at 2pm with the service at 4pm. The interment will follow in the Veteran's Plot of Green Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the VFW Relief Fund, VFW Dept. of NC, www.vfwnc.org