posted on October 15, 2012 11:33
In a bitter, polarized political age – and a lifetime of bitter, polarizing political battles – Bill Friday conquered all by heeding the Proverb: “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but a grievous word stirreth up anger.”
Look at the battles he fought: The Smith-Graham Senate race in 1950, the basketball point-shaving scandal, cancelling the Dixie Classic, the Speaker Ban Law, university consolidation, the ECU medical school, UNC desegregation, poverty, tuition increases and, to the day he died, the role of athletics in the university.
But when he died – peacefully, in his sleep, working to his last day – everyone remembered his kindness and civility.
As one TAPster wrote: “Dr. Friday was dignified, thoughtful and accessible. He had a vision about education, and was clear about what he thought was correct. He sold his vision to a generation of politicians and state leaders with persuasive and respectful arguments….Unfortunately, the Bill Friday approach has vanished in today’s political world where leaders wrongly think noise, lies and insults are more effective than a calm, dignified debate.”
Bill Friday’s leadership for over 60 years transformed our state and our people. The way he did it should be a lesson to us, especially today and especially in this political campaign.