Loyd Hill column: Tribute to Ray Paradowski
A resident of Salisbury since 1957, I have been privileged to meet and learn to know many of the finest people that America has to offer. We have some of the warmest, kindest and productive volunteers that are seldom heard about but continue to serve our community in so many ways.
Now, I know that we Southerners still like to glamorize the South and look just a little suspiciously at the many Yankees who have chosen to make Salisbury Rowan their working area or retirement home. Many of them have contributed enormously to our working economy, our tax base as business owners and home owners as well as our culture and as volunteers in the community. I personally have long heard that there are Good Yankees and Bad Yankees. If you are a Bad Yankee, well, you know who you are. We Southerners do have our accomplishments and pride.
I would like to tell you about a Good Yankee who, fortunately for us, came to Salisbury in 1983.
His name is Ray Paradowski. Ray (with wife Lois) came to Salisbury to manage Proctor Chemical Co.
Ray converted Proctor Chemical into a model National Starch and Chemical Co. production facility, which focused on employee and community safety, being a friend to the environment, a provider of good, high paying jobs and an asset to the culture and education of our area. I first met Ray when he became a board member at Waterworks Visual Art Center soon after his arrival in Salisbury.
Ray’s many contributions began with his position at National Starch in the mid- 1980s when Rowan County and this area had a severe drought. Ray was able to coordinate the use of his company’s fleet of trucks to haul hay from the Midwest and Northeast to farmers of Rowan at no cost. The hay, corn and grain crops were essentially nil in this area during that year. His effort inspired other companies, including some NASCAR teams, to also help bring in food for farm animals. National Starch also contributed two 70-ton railroad hopper cars of gluten meal (protein) from its starch factories in North Kansas City and Indianapolis to be distributed as cattle feed supplement to help the area.
Ray’s many local civic activities, current and past, include serving as board member of the Salisbury Rowan Symphony Orchestra; president of the Salisbury Rotary Club; president, chairman and board member of Waterworks Visual Arts Center, where he was instrumental in a capital campaign for expansion, renovation and subsequent major relocation. He served as chairman of the board of Rowan County Salvation Army; Crime Stoppers; past president and chairman of Rowan Chamber of Commerce and representative to the Economic Development Commission. Ray proudly served as trustee for 22 years and chairman of the board for 19 years at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. He has been a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in Delaware, South Carolina and North Carolina. Ray served on the Governor’s Business Committee for Education. He was a member of American Chemical Society, Cleveland Engineering Society, Chemical Manufacturers Association, a charter member and vice president of finance for the N.C. Chemical Industry Council, vice president of finance of the N.C. Industry Council, a member of American Association of Textile Colorists and Chemists and the Society of Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association.
Being a part of Rowan Technical Institute’s evolving into Rowan Cabarrus Community College and helping the program grow from a few hundred students to over 20,000 students has brought Ray great satisfaction. Ray served many years as chairman of the board and provided leadership in the building and renovations of the South Campus in Concord, the Business and Technology Center on U.S. 29, Concord, the cosmetology center at Cloverleaf Plaza, Concord; the cooperative 40,000 square foot biotech facility at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and the recently opened 400 Building on the North Campus. Serving as chairman of the college during the employment of Dr. Carol Spalding to bring RCCC into the 21st century was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience for Ray. To cap it off, he recently served as chairman of the committee to pass a $12 million bond referendum for RCCC.
Ray has said that it has been a privilege to be a small part of so many accomplishments. He is quick to emphasize that no one person can accomplish those types of things alone.
“Many, many talented and gifted individuals have been a part of them,” Ray said. “I cherish and consider it an honor to have met and worked with so many dedicated people since coming to Salisbury, Rowan County.”
Well done, Ray. You are a real good Yankee.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., he attended Fenn College of Engineering at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, having majored in chemical engineering and had continuing education at Texas Western , University of Maryland, University of Delaware, Clemson University, Furman University and the University of South Carolina.
Ray is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s Guided Missile Training Center in El Paso, Texas, and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Md. He retired from National Starch here in 1997 and was self-employed as a consultant until 2003. He and Lois are members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where he served as co-chair of its Capital Campaign Committee to relocate and build a new church building and pre-K- through-eighth-grade school facility.
Ray and Lois are parents of three daughters, Sharon Frankenfield of Salisbury; Rhonda Hudgens of Charlotte; Pamela Jayne Clark of Columbia, S.C.; and six grandchildren.
What a man you are, Ray Paradowski. I hope that Salisbury-Rowan will now know you, as we your breakfast and golf friends have known you all along. Welcome to Salisbury.
Loyd Hill is a resident of Salisbury.