(House of Representatives - May 16, 1996)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages H5264-H5265]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          TRIBUTE TO SAM RAGAN

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dickey). Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentlewoman from North Carolina [Mrs. Clayton] is recognized 
for 5 minutes.
  Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a great 
journalist, a great poet, a great North Carolinian, a great American--
Sam Ragan--who died Saturday, May 11, 1996.
  Born, Samuel Talmadge Ragan, 80 years ago in Granville County, Sam 
was devoted to his wife of 56 years, Marjorie, their two daughters, 
Talmadge and Nancy, his two grandchildren Robin and Eric, his family 
and a host of friends. He was also devoted to his community, to North 
Carolina and the people who call them home.
  Consider his poem:

                        The Marked and Unmarked

     I cannot say upon which luminous evening
     I shall go out beyond the stars,
     To windless spaces and unmarked time,
     Turning nights to days and days to nights.

     This is the place where I live.
     I planted this tree.
     I watched it grow.
     The leaves fall and I scuff them with my feet.
     This is the street on which I walk,
     I have walked it many times.
     Sometimes it seems there are echoes of my walking--

     In the mornings, in the nights,
     In those long evenings of silence and stars
     --the unmarked stars.

  During his life Sam marked the way for those who would come after 
him. His resume was long, varied, and impressive. His accolades and 
awards too numerous to list. After college graduation, he began his 
career in journalism when journalists were men of letters.
  As an editor in Wilmington, NC, early in his career, when Sam needed 
a sportswriter, he hired a young man named David Brinkley. In 1941, Sam 
joined the Raleigh News and Observer as State editor.
  During World War II, he served in Army Intelligence for 3 years and 

[[Page H5265]]

returned to the News and Observer in 1946, where he became the managing 
editor in 1948. From 1957 to 1968 he served as the executive news 
editor for the News and Observer and the Raleigh Times.
  In 1968, he moved to Southern Pines and purchased the Pilot 
Newspaper; serving as editor, publisher, and business manager until his 
death. Under his stewardship, the paper grew from a weekly with 
circulation of 3,000 to a twice-a-week newspaper with circulation of 
  Former Gov. Terry Sanford said ``Sam Ragan was one of North 
Carolina's treasures. He was a crusading editorial force at the News 
and Observer where he fought for the improvement of education, the 
elimination of racial injustice and the broadening of economic 
  In 1972, North Carolina led the Nation by creating the first State 
cabinet-level position for the arts. Sam Ragan was appointed as the 
first secretary of cultural resources by then Gov. Bob Scott who said 
he appointed Sam because he embodied the perfect mix of businessman, 
manager, and artist.
  In 1982, Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Sam Ragan North Carolina ``Poet 
Laureate for Life.'' He was only the third person to hold the honorary 
  Sam's tall frame, flowing white hair, trademark bow tie and fedora 
hat, made it easy, even for those who did not know him, to pick him out 
of the crowd. He had an affinity for people which was readily 
acknowledged and returned by those who met him.
  Sam always found a moment to speak with a visiting tourist, a 
student, or a local resident, who dropped by his office to visit; along 
with the civic leaders, business leaders, political candidates and 
elected officials who sought his counsel.
  Those who are acquainted with Sam Ragan's professional activities are 
fully aware that as an editor he fashioned a distinguished career of 
recording and examining newsworthy events. How remarkable, then, that 
in his poetry he focused on ordinary people, the small incidents of 
daily life, the quiet unfolding of nature--events that never rated a 
headline. His unique talent transformed simple everyday occurrences. He 
made ordinary people special and special people ordinary.
  Throughout his life, Sam used his indomitable spirit, his influence 
and his opinion to steadfastly champion the arts. He enriched our 
literary, cultural, and journalistic heritage and the quality of our 
  To paraphrase our beloved poet laureate:

     And sometimes remembering is all we have.

     Other sights and sounds
     Flood the memories
     of someone very special.
     Sam, you had a wonderful journey,
     And it's the journey that counts,
     Not the getting there.
     Here in Washington the azaleas are in bloom
     Across the miles I am proud
     and others share my pride in you--
     The very special you.

  Mr. Speaker, Sam Ragan was truly a Renaissance man, a man for all 
times. How fortunate we are that he graced our time.
  Mr. Speaker, I submit for the Record the following information from 
``Who's Who in America'' regarding Samuel Talmadge Ragan.

                       Who's Who in America 1996

       Ragan, Samuel Talmadge, newspaper editor, publisher, 
     educator, poet laureate; b. Berea, N.C., Dec. 31 1915; s. 
     William Samuel and Emma Clare (Long) R., m. Marjorie Usher, 
     Aug. 19, 1939; children: Nancy, Ann Talmadge. A.B., Atlantic 
     Christian Coll., 1936, Litt.D., 1972; Litt.D., U.N.C., 1987; 
     D.Letters, Meth. Coll., 1980; D.Lit., St. Andrews Coll., 
     1987. Newspaperman in N.C. and Tex., 1936--; mng. editor, 
     author column Southern Accent in Raleigh (N.C.) News and 
     Observer, 1948-69, exec. editor Raleigh News and Observer, 
     also Raleigh Times, 1957-69; editor pub., author column The 
     Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C., 1969-; sec. N.C. Dept. Arts, 
     Culture and History, 1972-73; conductor program, commentator 
     sta. WTVD, Durham, 1969-; spl. lectr contemporary issues N.C. 
     State U., 1959-68; dir. Writer's Workshop, 1963-; instr. 
     creative writing St. Andrews Coll., 1970-, Sandhills Coll., 
     1969-; cons. editor St. Andrews Rev., Pembroke Mag. Author: 
     (collected poems) The Tree in the Far Pasture, 1964, To the 
     Water's Edge, 1971, Journey Into Morning, 1981, In the 
     Beginning, 1985; The Democratic Party: Its Aims and Purposes, 
     1961, The New Day, 1964, Free Press and Fair Trial, 1967, 
     (with Elizabeth S. Ives) Back to Beginnings, 1969. In the 
     Beginning (with Thad Stem Jr.), 1984, A Walk Into April, 
     1986, Collected Poems, 1990, Editor: Weymouth Anthology, 
     1987; Contbr. editor; World Book Ency., 1964-; author 
     articles, poems. Pres. Friends Coll., Inc., N.C. State, 1961-
     62; mem. N.C. Library Resources Com., N.C. Govt. Reorgn. 
     Comm., 1970-; moderator N.C. Writers Forum of Charlotte,, 
     1963-; Trustee N.C. Sch. Arts, 1963-72; mem. N.C. Adminstrn. 
     of Justice Council, 1964-, chmn., 1980-83; bd dirs N.C. 
     Symphony Soc., 1975-79. Served with AUS, 1943-46, PTO. 
     Recipient N.C. Tercentenary Poetry award, 1963. Spl. Citation 
     for Contbns. to Journalism Atlantic Christian Coll., North 
     Caroliniana Soc. award, 1981, Disting. Svc. medal DAR, 1974, 
     Edward Arnold Young award, 1981, Disting., Svc. medal DAR, 
     1974, Edward Arnold Young award for Poetry, 1965, 72, 91, 
     Morrison award for contbns. to arts N.C., 1976, N.C. award 
     for achievements in arts, 1979, R. Hunt Parker award for 
     contbns. to lit., 1987, N.C. Artists awarded United Arts 
     Coun., 1990, Caldwell award for contbns, and achievements in 
     humanities, N.C. Humanities Coun., 1993; inducted into N.C. 
     Journalism Hall of Fame, 1984; appointed Poet Laureate N.C. 
     for life, 1982. Mem. N.C. Lit. Forum (moderator 1956-), N.C. 
     Writers Conf. (chmn. 1962-63), Eastern N.C. Press Assn. (past 
     pres.), N.C. Press Assn. (pres. 1973-74), Asso. Press Mng. 
     Editors Assn. (dir. gen. chmn. continuing studies 1961, sec. 
     1962, v.p. 1963, pres 1964), Am. Soc. Newspaper Editors 
     (dir., chmn. freedom of info. com. 1968), Roanoke Island 
     Hist. Soc. (dir), N.C. News Council (past pres.), N.C. Arts 
     Council (chmn. 1967-72), Am. Newspaper Pubs. Assn., N.C. Lit. 
     and Hist. Assn. (pres. 1977), Friends of Weymouth (pres. 
     1979-84), Sigma Delta Chi. Democrat. Presbyterian. Club: 
     Sandhills Kiwanis (Southern Pines); Builders Cup 1985. 
     Homes:255 Hill Rd Southern Pines NC 28387-6633 Office: 145 W 
     Pennsylvania Ave Southern Pines NC 28387-5428