Bryce R. Younts ’48, who led the NC State Alumni Association through a period of unprecedented growth as its executive director for more than 26 years, died Saturday. For Younts, though, success was not just measured in membership numbers and dollars raised. It was about the people that he became friends with as an untiring ambassador for NC State and the Alumni Association.
Younts’ late wife, Hazel, once said that she might be marrying the poorest man in the “whole United States” when she decided to wed Younts, a farm boy from Davidson County. But she said her husband went on to become one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina.
“Not money, Bryce has never cared about worldly goods,” she said in a 1992 article in the alumni magazine about Younts when he retired. “But friends. That’s his measure, and I don’t know anybody who has more friends than Bryce. He just loves people. Loves to do for them.”
That passion for people translated into remarkable success for the Alumni Association from 1966 to 1992, when Younts served as executive director. Alumni donors jumped from 4,000 to 16,000 during that period, and the association established what have become longstanding awards programs for distinguished teaching, research and extension work by university professors. Younts was also instrumental in the creation of the Caldwell Fellows scholarship program, which has provided scholarships, community service opportunities and leadership training for about 1,100 NC State students.
“It was a 24-hours-a-day job for him,” said William H. Dove ’56, an architect in Rocky Mount who served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors when Younts was executive director. “And it was fun, too. I’m just amazed at the things that he got accomplished when he was director.”
Smedes York ’63, the chairman of York Properties in Raleigh, was president of the Alumni Association in 1983 and a longtime member of the board during Younts’ tenure. He said Younts was not willing to accept the status quo, noting that he secured a grant to upgrade the quality of the Alumni Association magazine.
“Bryce was solid, dependable, but also visionary,” York said. “He was as solid a performer as you would ever encounter. You could depend on Bryce.”
Younts was widely known as “Mr. NC State” as he traveled throughout the state and the world to interact with other NC State alumni, whom he described in the 1992 article as “honest-to-goodness middle-class people.”
“We came out of an agrarian state; 85 percent of our alums are from North Carolina, many from families that worked the farm or in a factory,” Younts said. “And over the years they’ve maintained that goodness. And I’ll tell you this, because of it, the way they think, their values, their appreciation of NC State, it’s made my job a joy.”
NC State recognized Younts’ contributions to NC State in 2004 with the Watauga Medal. He also received the Alumni Association’s Meritorious Service Award in 1997.
Younts majored in agriculture education at NC State and then returned to Davidson County to teach vocational agriculture in public schools for eight years. He later worked for the Chamber of Commerce in Winston-Salem and then with the N.C. Soil and Water Conservation Committee. His office with the soil and water committee was at NC State, which he used as a base to visit every county in the state at least three times. “Yes, I was privileged, got to know a lot of good folks during those years,” he said.
And then, as Younts recalled, came the “dad-gummed” moment when Younts was named executive director of the Alumni Association. When he retired 26 years later, Younts had no difficulty expressing what he would miss most about the job.
“Well it’s the people, I’ll miss the people, of course,” he said. “This is the most people-oriented job imaginable.”
Younts is survived by his daughter, Malinda Younts Stallings, husband Les and their daughter, Catie, all of Raleigh; brothers, Eugene Younts, of Athens, Ga.; Richard Younts, of Wilmington, N.C.; and Joel Younts, of Fleetwood, N.C., and by other family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Hazel Hughes Younts; daughter, Cathy Younts Hilker; sister, Martha Swing and brothers, Wayne Younts and Homer Younts.
Family will receive friends on Tuesday evening from 6-8 p.m. at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home (300 St. Mary’s Street in Raleigh). Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 2 p.m. at Highland United Methodist Church (1901 Ridge Road in Raleigh). Interment will follow at Raleigh Memorial Park.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Bryce Younts Caldwell Endowment, Contact Cathy Rackley, NC State University, Box 7501, Raleigh, NC 27695 and Highland United Methodist Church, 1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27607.
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So, have you seen the video of the groundskeeper for the Texas Rangers who starts dancing on the field between innings of Game 4 of the World Series?
Almost 300,000 people have seen it on YouTube since it was posted earlier this week, and it has made its way to other websites and blogs and into some news broadcasts. It has sparked all sorts of online comments, from those who admired the groundskeeper’s dance moves to those who suggested he would be fired for causing a distraction while the Rangers were warming up in the field as the St. Louis Cardinals prepared to come to bat.
It turns out that the dancing groundskeeper is Tanner Leggett, an NC State alumnus who was Mr. Wuf for three years while he was a student majoring in chemistry. And Leggett is not a groundskeeper. He’s the mascot coordinator for the Texas Rangers, and he was asked by his bosses to perform the dance routine to entertain the fans between innnings.
“For me, with everything I do, it’s really about what the team has done this year and what we’re doing for our fans,” Leggett told us in a telephone interview. “The atmosphere was electric.”
It’s clear from the video that the crowd loved Leggett’s act, particularly when he broke out The Worm toward the end of his routine. Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler can be seen in the video, studiously ignoring Leggett as he tries a variety of dance moves. But Leggett said the players let him know they enjoyed it.
“The players thought it was funny, but they have to remain focused,” Leggett said.
Leggett was Mr. Wuf for three years at NC State, winning the national mascot championship in 2006. Leggett said he used some of his dance moves as Mr. Wuf, with the highlight being a halftime performance he once did with the NC State dance team.
“I’ve been dancing forever,” he said. “I’m self-taught, used to watch Usher videos. The worm move has always been something that I excel at.”
After graduating in 2006, Leggeett worked for the Durham Bulls. He was the mascot coordinator for the Bulls, and helped run community programs for the team. In January 2008, he landed a job with the Texas Rangers, where he also manages community programs for kids and other community efforts by the team.
Leggett has enjoyed his moment in the World Series spotlight, especially since his mother was there to see it. “She’s been telling me that she wished they would let me dance,” Leggett said. “It was really cool for her to see it.
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Blaine Smith ’03 and Will Roach ’05, a former men’s basketball player, have always been an inventive pair. They went to Broughton High School in Raleigh together, and they lived together in college at NC State. The pair was always kicking around ideas about what they could do as a business venture that would celebrate their love for the Wolfpack. The conversation would always turn to apparel, but they could never sew up a product to market.
Then in 2010, Roach was at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro when he saw a Clemson Tigers fan wearing a scarf hanging down over both shoulders. That reminded him of his old friend Engin Atsur, who also played basketball at NC State, and his apartment.
Roach remembered that the European Atsur had his favorite soccer teams’ scarves decorating his pad. And it hit Roach — why couldn’t he, Smith and Atsur spearhead a movement that would make the ACC’s landscape look like Atsur’s room, with scarves from every team ready to wear? And State, of course, would be the first.
“Our first goal was to do something at State and make State the first to do something for once,” Smith says. “I feel like sometimes we don’t set the trends.”
So they approached NC State’s licensing department and reached an agreement. They approached the campus bookstore and the GoPack store. The went to the Wolfpack Club. And eight months later, Tradition Scarves was receiving its shipments from its manufacturer and sending out its first orders.
Smith says that Tradition Scarves’ strength was that they knew how to get the word out. “What we were really good at was the marketing aspect of it,” he says. They got Julius Hodge ’05 to wear their scarves and promote them on the radio.
But the boon occurred almost a year ago at the DirectTV Charleston Classic, where the Wolfpack men’s basketball team was playing in a tournament. Smith said he and his partners organized a group of fans to wear the NC State scarves.
“The camera kept focusing on us,” he says. “Everybody at home thought everybody on television was wearing them. The Go Pack Store was calling frantically when we got home.”
Roach and Smith take care of the day-to-day operations in North Carolina, and Atsur, who’s playing professional basketball overseas, deals with their manufacturer in Turkey. The three used their early success to reach out to Appalachian State University and Indiana University. They landed deals with both schools and plan to bring more ACC schools in the fold.
“We would be happy with the ACC schools,” Smith says. “That would give us a pretty big market. But we don’t want to tackle things too fast.”
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Mary Pat and Jenna visit with a friend.
Mary Pat Bulfin, a Caldwell Fellow, had just returned from a LeaderShape conference sponsored by NC State’s CSLEPS (Center for Student Leadership Ethics & Public Service). She was looking for a way to translate what she had learned into a service opportunity. She had learned that the key to leadership is forming relationships. It’s about having people around you that you share a common experience with.
So she married that goal with the love she had for Jenna, a Sheltie Shepherd mix she had rescued from an animal shelter in 2005. The result is Pawssibilities, a new student organization on campus focused on outreach. Bulfin started it with three other friends, and right now the group has about 15 members who work with their dogs and with trainers, preparing them to go into hospitals and assisted-living facilities to visit with people.
“The whole goal of Pawssibilities is to empower students to let their love of animals be a catalyst to reach out to isolated communities in society,” Bulfin says.
The organization holds bi-weekly meetings, and Bulfin says NC State has been good about letting members bring their dogs to its facilities. She is especially appreciative to Chris Ashwell, associate professor in poultry genomics, who serves as faculty adviser, helping Pawssibilities solidify speakers to come in and talk about animal-assisted therapy. Speakers will either come help the dog owners train or speak about experiences they’ve had reaching out to those in need of love and contact.
More members of Pawssibilities donate time.
You have to be nationally registered with the Delta Society, a national nonprofit dedicated to animal-assisted therapy, in order to participate in the therapy in these facilities. It’s a process that is quite intense with both a performance exam with the handler and pet and then a written exam for the handler. When they actually go into a hospital or nursing home, the handlers and their dogs interact in different ways, always getting a feel for whatever is needed. It might be some tricks in the form of canine freestyle that Bulfin and Jenna do. Or it may just be sitting still and letting their dogs be petted.
Forging these new relationships with hospital patients or elderly people is a natural extension from Bulfin’s time at NC State. “What the Caldwell Fellows program has brought me is tremendous relationships and has helped me understand leadership is about relationships,” she says. “That whole concept of bringing diverse people together is what the Caldwell Fellows are about. And that’s the core value of Pawssibilities.”
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The Wolfpack Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and you’re invited to the party. Just remember to wear your sneakers.
No, you will not be playing basketball at Reynolds Coliseum or running cross country. The Wolfpack Club is hosting a Black Tie and Sneakers Gala at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Raleigh on Nov. 4 to culminate the celebration of its 75th anniversary. The Wolfpack Club says attire is “optional black tie, but sneakers are required.”
The gala will feature a silent auction, music by The Embers and heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar with beer and wine only. There will be a champagne toast at 10 p.m. to commemorate the Wolfpack Club’s past, present and future. The evening’s festivities run from 7:30-11:30 p.m.
The cost is $125 per person. If you’re interested, visit the event website for more information.
The current issue of NC State magazine features an article about the Wolfpack Club’s history, noting that it has become one of the largest university booster clubs in the nation.
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Brian Ezzelle ’90 moved to Richmond after graduating from NC State, but never lost touch with his strong Wolfpack roots.
As a dedicated alumnus living close to the home of NC State’s ACC opponent this week, Ezzelle spoke with us this week about what it is like to be a member of the Wolfpack living among fans of the Virginia Cavaliers.
As a student at NC State, Ezzelle was an active member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He frequented sports events with his fraternity brothers and enjoyed them thoroughly. Reminiscing about one particular game against Clemson, he described it as “a perfect win” for the Wolfpack.
Trying to stay connected across state lines, Ezzelle participates in the NCSU Club in Richmond and has been a co-chair of the organization.
“I haven’t been as active, my kids are getting older,” Ezzelle say. But he still helps fellow Wolfpack lovers stay connected in the area by helping to maintain the chapter’s website.
Ezzelle says he has yet to see NC State beat UVA in Charlottesville, but he is pulling for a Wolfpack win this Saturday. “I hope they do [win], but I bring bad luck,” Ezzelle joked.
His prediction: A close game, 24-20, with UVA as the winner.
– Jeannene Lang
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Volunteers gather for National Wolfpack Service Day at the Park Alumni Center.
The first numbers have started to come in from National Wolfpack Service Day, which was held Saturday by Alumni Association networks around the country. Volunteers gathered in cities from Phoenix to Raleigh to serve their respective communities.
More than 350 people came out to 20 different locations in Wake County to give back. Several alumni volunteered at NC State’s Open House, serving as guides directing prospective students around campus. Volunteers also dedicated time at William B. Umstead State Park, even staying late to finish staining cabins. And alumni cleaned up the visitors’ center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
“It was the largest event we’ve ever done for our network,” says Adam Compton ’09, leader of Wake County’s network. “It was great to see our Wolfpackers, the young ones and members of the Forever Club, come out and do community service together.”
NC State volunteers in Alamance County.
In Alamance County, five network alumni volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, logging a total of almost 20 hours of service on Saturday.
Check out more photos from our National Wolfpack Service Day events from around the country here. And check back on the blog this week as we receive volunteer totals from other locations.
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Benjamin “Mac” Currin takes a deep breath over the phone to give the question he’s just been asked some thought. The marine biologist, zoologist and angler pauses a little longer, really giving the inquiry adequate consideration. What’s his best personal fishing story?
Currin answers with a chuckle: “It’s probably one where I didn’t catch a fish.”
A funny answer for a sport fisherman whose career is, well, fishing. Currin owns Sport Fishing Adventures in Raleigh, where he bases his operation of fishing schools around the state. Currin leads classroom seminars on identifying fish, equipment, conservation and fish and natural resource management. He also takes his classes fishing.
Currin has loved the ocean and the life racing underneath its surface ever since his family had a house at Wrightsville Beach when he was a child. He parlayed that love into work at NC State as a zoologist in 1975, studying zooplankton in Wake County and around the state. In 1978, he started studying fish migrating to estuaries from the ocean, work he continued at NC State until 1991, obtaining a master’s in zoology along the way.
After a few years of contract work as a biologist, Currin started his fishing schools in 1993. The idea arose out of his time as director of NC State’s Sport Fishing School, a position he first took on in 1986 and continues to hold today. Currin’s love for education — his own included — comes through when he is asked about teaching novices and knowledgeable anglers.
“I get a big kick from seeing the faces of the folks when you tell them something they didn’t know or when you introduce them to a technique,” he says. “It’s not always about me and the other instructors teaching students. We learn and pick up something as well.”
Like the time a man from Pennsylvania hooked a nice dolphin several years ago. Currin offered encouragement and the man landed the fish. Just another day at the office for a teacher. But a couple of years later, the man’s son contacted Currin, informing him his father had died and that he had always talked about how special the time had been on the boat knowing he had Currin at his side, championing him.
In 2003, Currin was appointed to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the federal body responsible for conservation and management off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida. More political in nature, that post is tougher than his day job. The council has to make tough decisions about issues such as over-fishing of certain species, like speckled trout in North Carolina or red snapper on the national level. Those decisions, which often lead to the reduction in catchable numbers or pounds for fishermen, may mean a slowdown for commercial fishing businesses. Currin works to make sure there are robust populations so that his children and and future commercial fishermen can enjoy fishing.
“People ask all the time, ‘What’s going to be more important, people or fish?’” he says. “Unfortunately, the fish have to be more important because I’m thinking not just about the people of today but about the next generation.”
At 61, Currin has come to appreciate his role as teacher and purveyor of a healthy future for natural resources just as much as a textbook cast and a perfect catch.
So it makes sense that his best fishing story doesn’t involve catching a fish. It involves Mary, his wife, who was on a boat with him in Belize in 2010. It involves a weightless artificial worm designed to sit and twitch close to the surface. It involves a tarpon, an unexpected 50-pounder, rolling and jumping on that bait. The fish jumped out of the water, and Currin saw it for the first time. It went under the boat and jumped on the other side, allowing the expert fisherman to see it one more time. Then it tore away.
“Just to get two jumps out of that fish,” he says, “was very satisfying.”
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Chancellor Randy Woodson is embarking on a 10-day visit to Hong Kong, China and South Korea that will see him visit with NC State alumni while also pursuing partnerships with university and corporate officials in Asia.
The Alumni Association is coordinating dinners for Woodson with local alumni and friends in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul. NC State has more than 32 partner institutions and 44 different memorandums of understanding in China and South Korea.
“On this trip, we will meet with leaders of partner institutions and explore platforms for broadening engagement,” Woodson wrote in an open letter this week to the university community. “Through more than 65 established programs in 10 Asian countries, our students and faculty engage in global experiences and partnerships that provide exchange, educational and research opportunities in a variety of disciplines from genomics and biotechnology to entrepreneurship and mechanical engineering design.
“But we must expand those connections to reflect the growing interests of a global society.”
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Emily May '05
Becky Kennedy says her only child, Emily May ’05, dreamed of a long career in sports marketing. After graduating cum laude from the Poole College of Management, she was primed for that goal.
But in May 2007, a few days after Emily had interviewed for a job in that profession, that dream was taken away from her when she died in an accident as a passenger in a car driven by a drunken driver.
Kennedy says she knew immediately that she wanted to do something to memorialize Emily and to educate youth and families about the consequences of drunken driving.
“I didn’t want my daughter to be a statistic,” Kennedy says. “I didn’t want her to be forgotten. And I didn’t want other families to go through utter hell.”
In 2009, Kennedy and her husband, Chuck, started Emily’s Plea, a nonprofit aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. The two speak at high schools and at government agencies, giving voice to the tragedy and hurt a drunken driver can deliver to a family. Kennedy sold her Greensboro hair salon so she could dedicate more time to her efforts.
This Saturday, Emily’s Plea will host the second annual Emily May Invitational Charity Tournament at Jamestown Park Golf Course. The cost to enter the captain’s choice tourney is $60 per player, and prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place. Click on the Emily’s Plea website above for more information.
Events like this weekend’s tournament raise money that Kennedy can use to develop different ways to raise awareness. Last year, the proceeds went to the production of On Impact, a professional video that portrays the realities of a fatal crash. This year, she hopes to raise enough money to put up billboards.
While Emily’s Plea, which is an affiliate of the Crash Prevention Network of North Carolina, offers awareness, it also gives Kennedy a purpose.
“There’s so much missing from our life,” she says about Emily’s death. “You have to learn to live with it or you turn into a vegetable. …Now I just want to save other young people.”
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