As a young soldier during World War II, Aaron Fussell landed on Omaha Beach as part of the D-Day invasion in Europe and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Like so many of the brave young men who surrounded him, he was a small-town guy, in his case from Rose Hill in Duplin County. . Fussell wasnt far from home when he died Monday at the age of 91.
Having what it takes to survive 318 days of continuous combat during the war, Fussell turned out to be the perfect person to lead Wake County schools as superintendent through a peaceful integration and then the merger of Wake and Raleigh city schools in 1976. His was a reasoned voice and a brave voice in those times.
Many other school districts around the South endured violent confrontations during the integration period, with some even having to close schools and work under court orders. Fussell helped lay the foundation for what today is an excellent school system.
Some would call him a glutton for punishment for later serving in the General Assembly, but Fussell, a former school principal, was made of the right stuff. As a legislator, he pushed laws making seat belts mandatory, establishing a basic education curriculum and setting watershed rules. Befitting Fussells experience as a school man, his attendance at the legislature was perfect for 14 of his 16 years in office.
What positive, thoughtful and lasting contributions Aaron Fussell made to his community.