• 64°

Editorial: Wilson Smith: Dedication and generosity

Wilson Smith and his family have been as generous to Rowan County as Smith was hard-working and honest. That’s saying a lot.
The Food Lion co-founder died Wednesday at the age of 93, leaving a large legacy both professionally and personally.
In 1957, Smith, Ralph Ketner and Brown Ketner opened the first Food Town store, the beginnings of today’s 1,300-store Food Lion chain. They had considerable experience in the business, but it was a gamble, nevertheless. The placid 1950s were growing contentious. The Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up, Little Susie” was banned in Boston. President Eisenhower sent federal forces into Little Rock, Ark., to enforce integration. Sputnik was launched. And so was Food Town.
From the start, Smith was a hard worker, willing to don a store apron and tackle any role — advertising man, store manager, janitor, sign painter and produce man. As the company expanded, he moved into the role of setting up and starting new stores. He retired in 1979 as operations vice president; by then the company had nearly 100 stores. Later Food Town became Food Lion, spreading out to 11 states. The company created thousands of jobs and made millionaires of its founders and original investors. Local colleges, arts organizations and nonprofits owe much of their existence to the success of Food Lion.
That alone is quite a legacy, but it’s what Wilson Smith did after Food Lion that tells the story. Though he maintained a low profile, Smith and his family committed themselves to improving the community and supporting key institutions. Some of their work is easy to see. The Smith name is on Rowan Regional Medical Center’s outpatient center and its heart and vascular center. Large gifts to Catawba College and other organizations are well-known. Giving like that inspires others. But Wilson and Evelyeen Smith were also apt to make anonymous donations.
Their heart was in the giving, not the recognition. That may be the finest legacy of all.

Comments

Comments closed.

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes

News

Voters struggling with witness rules in early voting

News

Trump expected to announce conservative Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Coronavirus

County reports COVID-19 percent positive rate of 8%

Local

Rowan County United Way sets $1.5 million goal at drive-in kickoff event

Crime

Blotter: Adult daughters accused of beating up mother

China Grove

China Grove firefighters injured after engine overturns

Business

Salisbury VA to reopen entry, exit gates

Crime

Sheriff’s Office looking for suspect in Burlington Coat Factory theft

Elections

Requests for absentee ballots top 9,000 in Rowan

Local

Spencer approves supplemental USDA loan for Park Plaza project

Business

11 locals will make up Empire Redevelopment Task Force

Local

New finance director excited to prove himself, continue on path set by predecessor

Coronavirus

County health officials report four new COVID-19 deaths

Elections

Trump promotes health care ‘vision’ at stop in Charlotte but gaps remain

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with stealing mom’s dog

Business

Rowan County hires Howden as new finance director

Local

Exhibit about Jim Crow-era travel on display at NC Transportation Museum

Elections

GOP elections board members resign over absentee settlement

Crime

Drive-by shooting injures 24-year-old Salisbury man

Crime

Highway Patrol: Vehicle fled after striking, killing pedestrian on Camp Road

Local

Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Business

Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events

Nation/World

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’