Friday, June 02, 2006

Rest in Peace, Grandfather Morton

Perhaps the greatest "champion" of North Carolina's culture and beauty, Hugh Morton, passed away on June 1. Below are some excerpts from the many articles about the man who owned and promoted Grandfather Mountain, saved the USS North Carolina battleship and was the "unofficial" state photographer.

From the News & Observer:

In more than six decades of advancing causes public and private, Morton, who was 85, became known as a formidable force on such issues as development along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the preservation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. He inspired thousands of schoolchildren to donate nickels and dimes to save the USS North Carolina battleship.

Morton, for many, wasn't a household name. But in a persistent push, Morton did more than perhaps any other person to promote North Carolina's beauty and

"He was truly one of North Carolina's treasures," Gov. Mike Easley said in a prepared statement Thursday night.

William Friday, a friend and former UNC system president, said in an interview that Morton was "probably North Carolina's most effective ambassador when it came to telling the story of the joy of living in this state."

"He'll be an example to people of what you do when you have the talent to serve the state without any expectation of compensation," Friday said.

From the Charlotte Observer:

His personal stage was the 5,964-foot peak he inherited and turned into one of the state's leading tourist attractions. When mountain firs and red spruce started dying in the 1980s, Morton, an acclaimed photographer, used the sad images to campaign for cleaner air.

"He wants to be remembered as the guardian of Grandfather Mountain," said his daughter, Catherine Morton. "His regret was that he was not going to outlive it." ...

He died at home in Linville, at the foot of his mountain, among the lavender blooms of Catawba rhododendron. He was 85.

His ashes will be scattered on the rugged peaks.

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

From the time he was 13, Morton took his camera everywhere, photographing Gen. Douglas MacArthur in World War II and the Blue Ridge Mountains up until his death. He shot his final photo, of a 4-month-old bear cub, on May 20.

“He didn’t waste a minute of his life,” his grandson, Crae Morton, said Thursday night. “He was always on the move. ... He left a wonderful legacy for the rest of us.”

From the Associated Press:

He had a flair for promotion, dreaming up the "Mile-High Swinging Bridge" that became the symbol of Grandfather Mountain and running publicity for Luther Hodges' successful 1956 gubernatorial campaign.

And in his most famous campaign, he stopped the National Park Service from building the last 7.7 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway over Grandfather Mountain, saving the mountain he owned and loved.

"That was the most important thing as far he's concerned, his most important calling," Catherine Morton said Thursday night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hugh Morton may have been a died-in-the-wool UNC fan, but he was a good man and a N.C. treasure. He will be missed.