McLaughlin, Carroll to be honored at West End Classic Saturday night
By Kimberly Harrington
Livingstone College News Service
SALISBURY — When John McLaughlin learned he was being honored Saturday, his first reaction was, “For what?”
He’s a humble man and one of few words, but his legacy speaks for itself at McLaughlin’s Grocery, 1210 W. Monroe St.
Livingstone College will honor McLaughlin and Ollie Mae Carroll with the West End Classic Community Spirit Award this weekend.
The West End Classic, a partnership among Livingstone, the city of Salisbury, and members of West End Pride and West End Community Organization, has been held on the weekend of the school’s the first home football game for four years. The home opener will pit the Blue Bears against Virginia State University at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Livingstone President Jimmy Jenkins Sr. and other college leaders meet routinely with West End residents to discuss ways to improve the community.
After the first quarter of Saturday’s game, Livingstone College will present the spirit awards to Carroll and McLaughlin.
All veterans and West End community members will receive free admission.
McLaughlin retired in May as owner of McLaughlin’s Grocery after running the business for 58 years.
J.D. Scott opened the store in 1934 and sold it to McLaughlin’s mother, Obella, in 1958. A native of Salisbury, McLaughlin came out of the military to help his mother run the store. When she retired, he took over.
McLaughlin served five years with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
The store is a complete grocery store, not a convenience store, McLaughlin said, sure to highlight its array of packaged meats.
He is more comfortable talking about others than himself. He said his sister, Shirley, has helped at the store for the past seven years. She was the first African-American operator to be hired at what was then Southern Bell, he said.
His brother, now retired, worked for the Secret Service. His brother’s son, Harry Jr., now operates the store.
“People come in all the time telling him (John McLaughlin) how much he has helped them to be a better adult, a better person,” said Harry Jr. “It speaks volumes for all he’s done over the decades.”
John Peoples said McLaughlin’s Grocery, located across from the Livingstone College campus, is a mainstay in the community. It has served as a public forum and a place where political campaigns were born, including that of his brother, the late William Peoples, a former Salisbury-Rowan NAACP president and community activist.
McLaughlin’s wife, Carolyn, serves on the West End Coalition.
Carroll is commander of the J.C. Price American Legion Post and was the first woman to become commander of an all-male traditional American Legion post in North Carolina.
She was also the first woman to win the N.C. Department of American Legion “Legionnaire of the Year” Award.
Carroll is vice president of the Salisbury-Rowan Community Development Corp., which has built more than 30 homes for low-income homebuyers.
For more than 30 years, she was a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist and educator at the Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, where she developed the Salisbury Transformation Outpatient Program for homeless veterans and helped develop the first post-traumatic stress disorder program for veterans and their families.
A veteran of the Air Force, she was the first African-American to graduate from the nursing program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was the first African-American to teach at the Cabarrus School of Nursing.
She was appointed to the N.C. State Veterans Affairs Commission by former Gov. Jim Hunt and has received numerous awards for her community work.
Currently, she coordinates a senior line dance group at Millers Recreation Center.
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