Two recent reviews of Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina follow:
North Carolina Genealogical Society JOURNAL
Volume 39, Number 1. February 2013.
By Pamela S. Pearson
Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina. By Jack J. Prather. 2012. www.futurenowpublishing.com.
7x10”. 400 pages. $19.95 softcover, $29.95 hardcover. Order from publisher or online bookstores worldwide. Portion of proceeds to Young Writers Scholarship founded at Warren Wilson College in 2012 by the author.
This book honors the lives and careers of twelve living individuals from Western North Carolina, each notable for his/her contributions to “such diverse fields as law, faith, education, medical, military, non-profit, music, poetry, crafts and art.” These remarkable individuals have also made significant contributions to their communities.
Each biography is anchored by excerpts from interviews the author conducted with his subjects. Each includes a variety of testimonials, summaries of life and career highlights, photos, sample writings, etc. The author achieves his goal of capturing the “core essences” of the twelve individuals. His book honors their contributions and preserves their inspirational stories.
The twelve “notables” featured in his book are Rev. Dr. Dan Matthews, priest a Ground Zero on 9/ll and recipient of the Order of the British Empire; David Holt, four-time Grammy winner, NPR Radio and PBS-TV host; Captain Ray R. West, Jr., USN Navy-Retired, founder of the Moldova World Children’s Fund; Judge Harry C. Martin, former North Carolina and Cherokee Supreme Court Justice; Olson Huff, MD., founding Medical Director of Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville and former President of the NC Pediatrics Association; Glenis Redmond, award-winning poet and Kennedy Center Teaching Artist; Douglas M. Orr, Ph.D., author, musician and President Emeritus of Warren Wilson College; Billie Ruth Sudduth, basket artist and first female NC Living Treasure; Mathew J. Hayes, MD, Ph.D., pioneer in emergency medical services and founding member of the American College of Emergency Physicians; Joe Epley, global public relations leader and recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Public Relations Society of America; Richard Ritter, studio glass artist, North Carolina Living Treasure and recipient of the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service; and Julyan Davis, an internationally exhibited and recognized oil painter.
North Carolina Library JOURNAL
By Steven Case, September 2012
Western North Carolina is known as a destination spot, a place of deep natural beauty combined with cheerful bohemianism, fierce independence of spirit, and profoundly inventive craftsmanship. Too often, though, the western third of the state is seen as a temporary stop, a place to recharge briefly and inhale cleaner air, visit grand vistas, or patronize the varied artisans who cluster in the area, before returning to busy lives elsewhere. But, as this volume shows, the west can catch and hold people too, and both inspire and nurture their own native creativity, charity, and understanding.
The twelve “notables” in this volume represent a small but impressive sampling of some of the extraordinary individuals who have made western North Carolina their home. The book is a unique blend of oral history, photographic scrapbook, chronology, and testimonials. The chapters vary slightly from one individual to another, but each one generally includes highlights from the life of the person being profiled, photos of significant people or events, and appreciation from neighbors, friends, and even some celebrities. The bulk of each chapter, however, is given over to a transcription of a guided interview conducted by Jack Prather, which seeks to tease out events both great and small that have affected the life and the career of each interviewee. The format itself would seem too pedestrian to produce anything but the most prosaic results, but the author has chosen his subjects well, and his sympathetic technique--as well as the obvious friendship and interest he feels for his subjects--elicits details both harrowing and heroic.
Prather’s eclecticism makes for rewarding reading, and covers a wide range of professions, disciplines, and life stories. The arts are, not surprisingly, richly represented, with profiles of David Holt (music), Glenis Redmond (poetry), Billie Ruth Sudduth (basket making), Julyan Davis (painting), and Richard Ritter (studio glass). Philanthropic and charitable endeavors, combined with or arising out of professional careers, are also represented, in the lives of Dr. Olson Huff (children’s medicine), Captain Ray West (Moldovan Children’s Fund), and the Reverend Dr. Dan Matthews (rector Emeritus, Trinity church). The remaining four profiles represent business (Joe Epley), law (Judge Harry Martin), education (Doug Orr), and emergency medicine (Dr. Matthew Hayes).
The work also includes a brief introduction to the geography and unique character of western North Carolina. The book betrays the author’s obvious admiration for his subjects through ubiquitous and sometimes overwhelming lists of honors, press cuttings, and encomia that he includes. Nevertheless, the compelling narrative of these twelve lives, combined with fascinating glimpses into our collective history, makes this a worthy addition to any collection of ‘North Caroliniana’. Suitable for grades 7 and up.