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.