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Rufus Edmisten, right, talks with afterschool program director Pam Shirley, left, and Mabel site
director Patricia Sperry after presenting a check to assist the Mabel afterschool program. Photos

Originally published: 2013-04-17 10:21:53
Last modified: 2013-04-17 10:21:52

Edmisten donations support local students

by Staff Reports

Former Secretary of State and N.C. Attorney General Rufus Edmisten has gone a long way in his life, but he chose to spend Friday morning helping others in a place close to where he started.

Edmisten presented two "Extra Special Super Kids Scholarships" to WHS students Taelor Critcher and Julianna Bond in a Watauga High School meeting room "20 yards from where I used to milk four Guernsey cows at 5 a.m. every morning," he said.

Later the same day, Edmisten followed up with a donation of $5,000 to help families at Mabel Elementary pay fees for the school's afterschool program.

The contributions at both schools were made through the Foundation for Good Business, a nonprofit organization Edmisten created to support students pursuing their education.

In addition to his service as the state's attorney general and secretary of state, Edmisten won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1984 and served as chief legal counsel to U.S. Senator Sam Ervin on the Senate Watergate Committee. 

In the latter role, he personally served the subpoena for the Watergate tapes to aides of President Richard Nixon. Edmisten currently lives in Raleigh where he is an attorney in the firm of Edmisten, Webb and Moore.

The donation at Mabel is the largest single donation the Good Business Foundation has ever made and the largest single contribution ever received by any afterschool program in the Watauga County Schools.

The Foundation for Good Business has been funding "Extra Special Super Kids Scholarships" for 18 years, but the awards to Critcher and Bond marked the first time that two students at one school received these scholarships in the same year. Edmisten celebrated this special event by kicking in an additional $500 donation to Watauga High School.

Edmisten told Bond and Critcher that they were chosen for their awards "because you have qualities that make you a good person."

"It's not required that you make straight A's or be able to play basketball like Michael Jordan to win this award," he said. "We do like that you work hard and that you will give back, and we want to support that." 

Watauga High School Principal Marshall Gasperson told Edmisten the foundation had chosen well in making the awards to Critcher and Bond, saying that they are "two very deserving and very dependable young ladies that will go far in life."

Each student received $250 for educational expenses on the spot and the promise of additional support throughout their college years if they make consistent progress in their studies and adhere to the other conditions of their awards. The awards are not for specific dollar amounts, but typically provide thousands of dollars per year for tuition and other education related expenses as the students attend college.

Since its inception, the Foundation for Good Business has helped 38 students graduate from college, several of whom have also received assistance for graduate school. 

In making the donation at Mabel Elementary on Friday afternoon, Edmisten praised the work of Patricia Sperry, Mabel's afterschool site director. 

"The afterschool program is one of my favorite things in Watauga County, and Mabel has the best afterschool program in the entire state of North Carolina," Edmisten said.

Mabel Principal Mark Hagaman said Edmisten's continued generosity is extremely valuable to the school's families. 

"This man is a true friend of Mabel," he said. "He has donated thousands of dollars a year to help pay for afterschool care, and that is a huge factor in supporting the success of our students."

Mabel's afterschool program was the first in the Watauga County Schools to attain a rated license from the N.C. Division of Child Development. It achieved a four star license in 2010 and attained a five star license, the highest rating possible, in October 2012.

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