Doing it right

Published 1:01 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

By Staff
Eastern North Carolina and East Carolina University have produced some talented people who have made a difference, not just in eastern North Carolina but elsewhere.
The East Carolina Alumni Association is recognizing James “Jim” Chesnutt, Class of 1963, and Ron Clark, Class of 1994, as two of four recipients of its Outstanding Alumni Award for 2007. They are names that many eastern North Carolina residents, especially those in Beaufort County, are familiar with.
Chesnutt, who had a career in banking, worked the past 10 years as president and chief executive officer of National Spinning Company, which is located in Washington. But Chesnutt’s contributions didn’t stop there. Chesnutt, who recently retired from National Spinning, devotes much of his time to working to improve Beaufort County.
Currently, Chesnutt, a Washington resident, serves as chairman of the Workforce Development Committee. He’s a former chairman of the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission and Beaufort County Committee of 100.
Indeed, Chesnutt has done just that, and more. He knows that by improving the quality of life in Beaufort County, eastern North Carolina, all of North Carolina, the nation and the world, he’s making a better life for himself. Chesnutt’s main endeavor was to improve economic-development opportunities in eastern North Carolina.
Chesnutt has a long history of serving as a volunteer. He’s worked with school groups and community organizations.
Suffice it to say that Chesnutt has provided a $100,000 endowment to ECU’s College of Business by way of business and personal contributions. That places Chesnutt and National Spinning among the top 10 lifetime individual donors to the College of Business, according to the alumni group.
When a movie is made about someone’s accomplishments in life, and that person isn’t yet 40 years old, that’s a pretty good indication that person has done something noteworthy. That’s the case with Ron Clark.
Clark’s commitment to teaching has brought him numerous accolades. He was named Disney’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2000. He’s been recognized by O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, as its first Phenomenal Man. Clark is a New York Times best-selling author. His students have been honored at the White House three times. Clark helped found The Ron Clark Academy, a privately-funded school for inner-city children in Atlanta.
Clark and Chesnutt will be recognized at the East Carolina Alumni Association Alumni Awards ceremony Oct. 26 at the Greenville Hilton. Clark and Chesnutt have honored Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina with their contributions to the community, locally and globally.
Whether it be working to improve economic-development opportunities or educational opportunities, Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina could use more people working to accomplish just that.
And if role models are needed to show others how to provide those opportunities, Chesnutt and Clark have shown the way and continue to show the way.
The rest of us can learn by their examples.