North Carolina Agricultural
Hall of Fame Inductees
HARRY B. CALDWELL
November 23, 1908 - March 4, 1980
Ohio's loss was North Carolina's gain. If young Harry B. Caldwell had not accepted a National Grange assignment in 1929 to help reactivate that venerable farm organization in North Carolina, the state would not have gained one of its brightest agricultural leaders.
He came as an unknown. He left with the gratitude of our people and the recognition he so richly earned in his 51 years among us. He came as a Buckeye. He left as immutably a Tar Heel as those natives with ancestral roots as far back as Bath and Edenton. He loved the people and he loved the land. He was at his best when meeting and mingling with those whose interests he championed.
Yet he was at much at home with the giants of government and industry as he was with the members of a local Grange, and therein lay his remarkable ability to bring people together and to lead them out of crisis and disagreement into the clearer air of reasonableness and sharing.
The name he created here carried far beyond the borders of North Carolina. Presidents recognized his abilities and appointed him to many important national committees. He was well-known and respected in the halls of Congress and in state legislatures where members listened closely to his words. He served on international agricultural commissions. His advice was eagerly sought from the highest levels to those in isolated communities.
Important honors were heaped on him during his lifetime in recognition of his many achievements, including an endowed scholarship fund set up in his name at N.C. State University for students in the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He likewise was awarded an honorary Ph.D. degree from this same institution. Other distinguished honors too numerous to mention came to him because of his work. He accepted each one humbly and with grace, giving credit always to those who had helped him gain the recognition.
Harry Caldwell's record of services in the half-century he lived in North Carolina will not soon be equaled. He came to us to revitalize the Grange organization which in times past had been a great and moving force in the agricultural life of the state. Under his guidance, it once again gained strength and stature.
He did this through tireless zeal and contagious enthusiasm, and until 1961, he led this group as State Grange Master. Through the power of this office, he became highly influential in molding thought and opinion, especially in matters pertaining to agriculture. Always he kept the best interests of farmers before the public, and because of his prestige, his messages received the prompt attention of those capable of producing action or change.
With historic ties between the Grange and farmer cooperatives, it was natural that he would turn his talents toward fostering and promoting these farmer-owned businesses. Thus he was named executive officer of the Cooperative Council of North Carolina in 1938 after helping to organize this state organization. He served for 36 years with tremendous distinction in this capacity until his retirement in 1974.
In this period, he became the spokesman for cooperatives, and it was only through this intervention and influence in many of these years that serious damage was not inflicted on these farmer organizations by powerful opposition groups. He also labored long and hard in organizing additional coooperatives, and many in existence today owe their being to his efforts.
While his primary duties involved the Grange and cooperatives, he found time to become an all-around good citizen. When help was needed in promoting education, health and other civic endeavors, he was always on the forefront, adding his talents and influence to these causes.
He was an active church worker serving as teacher, deacon and member of many committees. His pastor described him as "a giant among men." He added: "He was a giant physically. He stood at least a head and shoulders above the majority of us. He was also a giant in terms of character and integrity. But I knew him most intimately and personally as a man of faith. What a legacy he leaves. What a rich legacy indeed."
Harry Caldwell does leave a rich legacy, and like other gret men who have lived among us, his lessons and contributions will continue to touch us in these times and for generations to come.
AGRICULTURAL HALL OF FAME