Part of Faith road to honor the late Eugene McCombs

Published 12:10 am Monday, March 30, 2015

By Josh Bergeron

A road naming ceremony to honor Faith native and legendary public servant Eugene McCombs on his hometown’s namesake road is scheduled for Thursday.

The ceremony to name a portion of Faith Road in memory of McCombs will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Faith American Legion Building on Gantt Street.

The portion of road to be renamed begins at Jake Alexander Boulevard in Salisbury and ends just south of Faith on Crescent Road. The portion of Faith Road to be renamed runs right past McCombs’ former business in Faith, aptly named McCombs and Co. The renaming required approval of two municipalities, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and N.C. Board of Transportation. The state board of transportation approved the renaming at its November 2014 meeting.

McCombs had a lengthy history of public service representing Rowan County on just about every level.

His political career began in his hometown, where he served on the town board from 1948 to 1961. He was also mayor of Faith from 1959 to 1961. McCombs served on the county’s Board of Commissioners multiple times, serving as chairman for a total of 10 years.

Acquaintances and friends universally describe McCombs as a top-notch leader — one who routinely garnered bipartisan support. In late 1980, when the commissioners were in need of a new chairman, then-commissioner Jim Cohen, a Republican, nominated McCombs to head the board. It was seconded by Rufus Honeycutt, a Democrat. McCombs was selected as chairman by unanimous vote.

Charlie Walters organized Faith Road’s renaming and served with McCombs on the county commission from 1966 to 1976. When asked for an anecdote about McCombs, Walters usually talks about how McCombs would spend Tuesday afternoons in the commissioners’ offices and sign all checks that went out.

“He was like a straight line,” Walters said. “He didn’t have ups and downs. He maintained his personality in the same manner and never lost his cool.”

For comparison, the previous and current chairmen of the board of commissioners — Jim Sides and Greg Edds — were approved by a 4-1 vote. Sides served as chairman for two years. In 2012, he was the only nomination for chairman.

In 2011 and 2010, former commissioner Chad Mitchell was chosen as chairman by a 3-2 vote.

The last unanimous vote came in 2009, when current state Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, was chosen as chairman. The only other unanimous choice for chairman in the last 10 years was in 2005, when Arnold Chamberlain was picked to head the county commission. Chamberlain was, like Sides in 2012, the only nomination for chairman.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.