Born in 1932, in the rolling hills of Burke County near Morganton, North Carolina, Gene never forgot his roots. His values of honesty, responsibility, and hard work followed him throughout his life.
Gene’s parents, Ivey and Margaret Causby, his brothers Jimmy, Fred, Earl, and Bobby predeceased him in death. His sisters-in-law Marie, Nell, Shirley, and Sarah still live in the Morganton area with many nephews and nieces. Although he and his family did not see each other often, there was an unbroken bond between them.
He married his Morganton High School sweetheart Dottie Whisnant, and they were blessed with three children… Kathy, Stan, and Gary. His son, Stan, died this past July. Dottie predeceased him in 1973. Gene and Mary Ellen have 9 grandchildren…Will and Ben Causby, Clay and Becky Miller, Wes, Luke and Mary Barbour, Drew and Nathan Causby. They have 1 great granddaughter…Elaina Causby.
Gene received his B.A from Catawba College and began his teaching and coaching career at Boyden High School in Salisbury, N. C. in 1957. He received his Master’s from ECU and was awarded an honorary doctorate in education from Catawba College.
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In 1960-1965, he was a teacher, athletic director, and head football coach at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, N. C. In 1963, he was “Coach of the Year in Eastern 4A Conference”; in 1964 was “East-West All Star Game Coach”; and also, in 1964 was N. C. Shrine Bowl Game Coach. He cared deeply for his players and throughout the years heard from many of them.
In 1965-67, he was principle of Goldsboro Junior High School and in 1967-1969 was administrative assistant of Goldsboro City Schools.
In 1969, Dr. Craig Phillips, N.C. Department of Public Instruction, called him to be an associate director in the Division of Human Relations. During this time, Gene became lifelong friends with Dudley Flood, Sam Shugart, and Bob Boyd. It was a difficult time for Gene when Craig, Sam and Nancy Shugart passed away.
Dudley and Gene had the task of bringing civility and good will to the school boards, teachers, administrators, parents and most of all the students in the early days of desegregation. They traveled the state bringing fragmented groups to the discussion table for solutions for the schools. It was their wit and courage that defused problems of great magnitude. He often said this was the most rewarding time of his career.
At a state writing/reading meeting, Gene met his future wife Mary Ellen Goforth. It was a meant to be moment for both of them. They were married in 1974 and Mary Ellen’s daughter, Jill, became part of his family. She was always treated and cared for as his own daughter. Gene and Mary Ellen were married 40 years last month.
In 1980-94 Gene became the executive director of the North Carolina School Boards Association. He and Dr. Ed Dunlop made quite a team working hand in glove to assist school boards in policy making and training new board members. He especially enjoyed lobbying for the School Board to bring needed information to the legislators. He made many long lasting friends there. Linda Morris was his right hand. Her organizational skills and personality kept the many conferences running smoothly and made board members feel they were very special.
After a few days of retirement in 1994, Gene became a lobbyist for well- deserved, but under- recognized groups …the NC School Counselors Association, NC Drivers Training and Safety Education Association, Visiting International Faculty, and School Nutrition Associations of N. C.
Susan Harrison became a partner and close friend in this new adventure. She watched over him to see that he was where he was supposed to be and when. Her reports to him were invaluable especially when he had difficulty walking.
During this time, Dr. Tim McDowell and Dr. Lacy Presnell made lobbying at the Legislature a joy. Their combined knowledge of the issues was invaluable, but their friendship even more so. After Gene had problems walking, they would meet him and make it easier for him to get around. Their humor and loving spirit kept him working long after he was really able. Lacy actually met him at the parking lots and drove him right to the door of the Legislature and took him back in the evenings. The ladies at the front desk always had a smile for him and got his day started perfectly.
Gene has won many awards throughout his career. One which he was most proud of was when he was awarded the prestigious Jay Robinson Leadership Award for his exemplary leadership for outstanding contributions to statewide public K-12 education. He received this award in 2013.
Gene was always active in the church. He served as deacon and Sunday School Teacher at Hayes Barton Church in Raleigh.
At his present church, Baptist Center Church of Clayton, he has served as deacon, Sunday School director, teacher and preschool advisor.
A master storyteller and occasional song writer, Gene could always win you over with a story or a song. Any situation was made better by his humor and positive outlook on life. To quote one of his songs, “Life’s like a bell and I am going to ring it; life’s like a song and I am going to sing it. Life’s like a ball, and a ball, it bounces; life’s like a full pound and I want my sixteen ounces.”
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Baptist Center Church at 2163 Ranch Road in Clayton, NC or to a scholarship fund in his name at Catawba College.
Services will be held at Baptist Center Church at 2163 Ranch Road in Clayton on Thursday, November 6th at 2:00. Visitation will precede the service at 12:30 – 2:00. Online condolences may be made to the Causby family at www.mclaurinatpinecrest.com.
Arrangements are with McLaurin Funeral Home.