South Dakota native Bud Wrage (pronounced RAY-ghee) left the cold Canistota winters 50 years ago to seek employment – and volunteer opportunities – in Wake County.
Q: You are a longtime member of the Zebulon Rotary Club. To what do you attribute such longevity and loyalty to the club?
A: I was invited to go to a meeting so I went there as a guest 26 years ago and I came home a member. I have always been interested in the club’s projects and the people they help out, especially the Boys & Girls Club. We give them $2,000 every year. They have said that the Zebulon Rotary Club is the best friend the Boys & Girls Club has.
Q: And because of that connection, you have remained interested in the Boys & Girls Club?
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A: I have been on their advisory board since the 1990s and now one of the emeritus members – like a rogue member. I just went to one of their gatherings they had at the gym (Zebulon Community Center) and just something took hold and I stayed with it.
Q: Were you involved in the Boys & Girls Club as a youth – is that why it has a special place in your heart?
A: We didn’t have anything like that up there. I grew up in Canistota, South Dakota.
Q: South Dakota? How did you make your way to Zebulon?
A: I worked for Athey Products and I was transferred down here in 1964. We had a plant in Wake Forest and I came down here for that. I lived outside Wake Forest for a while and I moved to Zebulon in the 1970s when I came to work for Omark Industries. I worked for them for 20 years before retiring in 1993.
Q: I bet the winters in South Dakota can be brutal – do you miss the snow?
A: No, I really don’t miss the winters but when you are younger, you can work outside in weather that is 20 below and think nothing of it.
Q: That sounds pretty cold to me – how can you work in weather like that? I bet it is dangerous driving?
A: It is a different kind of cold. Here, when it is cold, it is like a wet cold. Up there, it is a dry cold. You just get used to it. And driving is not that bad when it snows. I drove for a while – hauled items. I had about 200,000 miles in two and a half years.
Q: What did you haul?
A: Livestock – cattle, hogs, sheep, out of the stockyard. I would go to Kansas City and Minnesota. I would also haul farm machinery, farm tractors. I drove for an outfit out of Sioux Falls. I covered 14 states and two provinces of Canada. I would drive into Iowa – would take items to Seattle. I just put the pedal to medal and I went. We would be unloading steel and it could be below freezing.
Q: I bet you saw a lot of nice scenery – which state is your favorite?
A: I think South Dakota was the most scenic. Colorado and Montana are nice too.
Q: Big Sky country – did you ever go skiing, or spend a lot of time outdoors?”
A: When I was younger. I would go hunting in the Black Hills. I would hunt pheasant, deer, jack rabbit. Hunting in the mountains – it’s nice. When I was growing up, there was a lot of farm land with gently rolling hills. Lots of ranches. Lots of sheep ranches.
Q: What about when you moved down here? Deer hunting is big in North Carolina.
A: When I moved down here, I heard too many stories of people getting shot when they go hunting.
Q: What other hobbies do you have?
A: When my kids were younger, we would go camping but I haven’t been camping in a while. When I was working at Athey, I traveled a lot and that would sometimes mean time away from my kids. I am a widower now. I have two daughters, three grandchildren, and one great grandchild. I am also a member at Zebulon United Methodist. I have been there since the early 1980s. I served on the board of trustees – several other boards. I am getting older and slowing down a lot but I still like to be involved when I can.
Correspondent Dena Coward