Reading the obituary of Casper Holroyd, who died Saturday at 86, one couldnt help but be struck by the fact that he would have been a man much loved in his community even without his service as a nine-year chairman of the Raleigh school board and as a state legislator.
This was a guy active in his church, obsessive about taking photos, determined to do something special for kids on Halloween and just generally known as an all-around great guy.
But his school board service had profound effects, for it was during that time that Holroyd was one of the leaders in the merger of the Wake County and Raleigh city schools, something that drew a lot of fire. The merger happened in 1976, but there still are many people in the community who remember the controversy and intense division related to it. Holroyd, who stood for desegregation at a time when it was not a popular idea in Raleigh, knew merger was the right thing to do for the entire community, and he would not be silenced.
Because of Holroyds immense personal popularity, his sunny outlook, his ability to bring people together and, yes, his steely determination, merger and desegregation happened, and the community is better for it. Holroyd remained active in terms of helping those around him and making his neighborhood and his city a better place. At his passing, his family vowed to carry on his traditions of photo-taking and Halloween parties. Thats great. In fact, Casper Holroyds legacy is preserved every day in Wake County in tangible ways when the school bell rings.