Hall of Honor 2004 Inductees

Dr. Christopher Beard

  • Picture of Dr. Christopher BeardA native of Lenoir, Dr. K. Christopher Beard graduated from West Caldwell High School in 1980 and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving an A.B. in Anthropology/Zoology in 1984. Beard completed his doctorate in Functional Anatomy and Evolution from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1989.  Currently a curator of vertebrate paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Dr. Beard's research of the origins of higher primates has "changed the way scientists think about our distant higher primate ancestors."  Dr. Beard's expeditions to collect new fossils include the Wind River, Big Horn and Washakie Basins of Wyoming, the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, and in eastern Mississippi where he unearthed the fossils of the Coryphodon, a hippo-like animal that lived 58 million years ago.  His other international expeditions include Kenya to study Miocene mammals, Sabah, Malaysia to study the ecology and behavior of Cynocephalus, to Kalimantan, Indonesia to collect Paleocene vertebrates and to China to collect Eocene mammals. In 1995 along the banks of the Yellow River in Shanxi Province, China, Beard discovered the fossils of Eosimias centennicus, a 40-million year old monkey the size of a mouse that fills a gap between primitive primates and the earliest monkey and apes. According to Dr. Beard, the fossil is "probably the biggest missing link in what we know about primate and human evolution." Winner of the MacArthur fellowship "Genius Grants" in 2000, Dr. Beard continues his works of discovery, and through example represents the genius found in all Caldwell County students.

Dr. Linda Morrison Combs

  • Picture of Dr. Linda Morrison CombsA native of Caldwell County, Dr. Linda Morrison Combs graduated from Hudson High School in 1964.  Attending Gardner-Webb Junior College and Appalachian State University, Combs received a BS in Elementary Education in 1968 and a MA in Reading Education in 1978.  Furthering her studies, Combs received a doctorate from VPI and State University in 1985.  Dr. Combs has served three United States Presidents and the Governor of North Carolina with distinction in the field of management.  Dr. Combs has served in three Senate confirmed management appointments:  Chief Financial Officer of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency; Assistant Secretary for Management at the U. S. Department of the Treasury; and Deputy Under Secretary for Management at the U. S. Department of Education.  Dr. Combs also held the chief management position at the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She is currently President Bush's nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Budget, Programs, and Chief Financial Officer at the U. S. Department of Transportation. The budget of the Department of Transportation is over fifty-seven billion dollars.  Earlier in her career, Dr. Combs served in numerous instructional and administrative positions in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.  She also was Manager of National Direct Student Loans for Wachovia Corporation, during which time she served as an elected member of the Board of Education of Forsyth County. Additionally, she has been an entrepreneur, author,  consultant, and philanthropist.  Dr. Combs received the highest honors and awards given in each of the Federal Departments where she served, and she has received numerous other awards for her professional and public service.  An example for all in Caldwell County, Dr. Combs believes that public service is a public trust and that we are all endowed with special gifts to be used for the betterment of our community, our country, and our fellow citizens

Lelia Judson Tuttle

  • Picture of Lelia Judson Tuttle A native of Caldwell County, Lelia Judson Tuttle attended and graduated from schools in the Hartland area in the late 1890s. In 1900, Miss Tuttle graduated from the Normal and Industrial College at Greensboro. Following a two-year teaching position at Davenport College, Miss Tuttle began graduate studies in English at Columbia University. In a quest to do missionary work for the good of others, Tuttle moved to Missouri and attended Scarritt Bible Training School in Kansas City. In 1909, Tuttle was appointed English Chair at the McTyeir Institute in Shanghai, China, transferred in 1926 to Soochow University as Dean of Women and taught English as well as history. She remained in China until 1942 when WWII forced her to return to Caldwell County. Continuing her generous missions in Caldwell County, Miss Tuttle shared her experiences in China with churches, schools, and clubs. Caldwell County natives who were privy to Miss Tuttle's kindness, remember her as "an outstanding educator who treasured sharing her knowledge and experiences with others." In order for her experiences to continue influencing the people of Caldwell County, Miss Tuttle gave her Chinese collection to the Caldwell County Public Library, which is now housed in the Caldwell County Arts Council Art Gallery.

Rooster Bush

  • Picture of Rooster BushA native of Caldwell County, R.L. "Rooster" Bush graduated from Lenoir High School in 1942. After serving in the US Navy during WWII, Bush attended Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Returning to his hometown, Bush began a long celebrated business career. Bush is the founder and owner of Bush-Oldsmobile-Pontiac-GMC, Inc. in Lenoir, Rooster Bush Pontiac-Cadillac-GMC in Morganton, Bush Cars, Inc. in Lenoir, and Cedar Rock County Club. In addition to his passion for automobiles, Rooster founded R.L. Bush Furniture Manufacturing Company, owned WKGX, and Western Carolina Tire Company. He was instrumental in beginning Caldwell Savings Bank, now First Citizens Bank. In 1976, Bush was listed as a Top 100 Dealer of Oldsmobile, a title he has won numerous times since. In 1985, Bush was inducted into the Automobile Dealers Hall of Fame. A community leader as well as business leader, Bush served on the Lenoir City Council for three terms; served on the Board of Directors for Caldwell Savings Bank, First Citizens Bank, and First Union National Bank; and was the director of the Western Piedmont Boy Scouts. Currently, Bush serves on the Cedar Rock Village Town Council and the National Dealer Council for Oldsmobile. Bush is a life-long member of the First United Methodist Church. He has served on numerous church committees and has been head usher and greeter for 40 years. A family man, businessman, public servant and friend to all, Rooster Bush represents the best of Caldwell County.

Joseph Robinson

  • Picture of Joseph Robinson Joseph Robinson graduated in 1958 from Lenoir High School where he played the oboe and was president of Captain James C. Harper's famous band.  Thereafter at Davidson College he was a Phi Beta Kappa English and economics major.  He won a Fulbright Award to study government support to the arts in Germany, and in the summer of 1963 in France he encountered world-famous oboist Marcel Tabuteau.  In 1966 he received a Master of Public Affairs degree from Princeton University.  From 1967 to 1973 Robinson performed as Principal Oboist of the Atlanta Symphony under conductor Robert Shaw, and from 1974 to 1978 he taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts.  In 1976 he created the John Mack Oboe Camp at Little Switzerland, NC, one of the most successful specialty seminars of its kind.  Robinson became Principal Oboist of the New York Philharmonic in the summer of 1978, succeeding the legendary Harold Gomberg.  Music Director Zubin Mehta conducted at Davidson College when Robinson received his honorary Doctor of Music degree there in 1983.  Robinson has served on many advisory and governing boards, including those of Davidson College, Oberlin Conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music and Union Theological Seminary in New York City, for which he produced in 1992 an Emmy winning concert/documentary in memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled "Heroes of Conscience".  In 1996 he organized a joint concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra which the New York Times labeled "a classic battle of the bands."  His invitation in 2001 to Johanna Johnson, a 16-year-old cancer patient from California sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, enabled her to participate in a New York Philharmonic concert and attracted interest all around the world.  A true artist and philanthropist, Caldwell County native Joseph Robinson is one of the most distinguished orchestra musicians of our time.

Dr. Roger Witherspoon

  • Picture of Dr. Roger Witherspoon A Lenoir native, Dr. Roger L. Witherspoon graduated from Freedman High School in 1956. He received a BS from North Carolina A&T in 1960, a Masters in Social Work from Adelphi University in 1968, and in 1983 an Ed.D. from University of Massachusetts. Currently the Vice President for Student Development at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Dr. Witherspoon has led an exemplary career in education and community service. Dedicated to improving the lives of students, Dr. Witherspoon has been responsible for abolishing the sale of alcohol on campus, creating a smoke free campus, developing campus ministries, establishing the Professional Development Program for student career planning, and establishing a learning center for students experiencing academic difficulties.  An author and speaker, Dr. Witherspoon has also been instrumental in the development of Head Start and daycare programs for children. In 1978, Governor Hugh Carey and the NY State Senate appointed Dr. Witherspoon to the Board of Visitors, Queens Children Psychiatric Center. He also served on the NY City Association of Black Social Workers to the Advisory Board, Teenage Pregnancy and Prevention, Tremont/Monterey Community Day Care Board, Board of Trustees, Family Dynamics, Inc., H.I.R.E Medical Group of Bedford Stuyvesant Board and was one of 32 individuals selected nationally for the purpose of Adolescent Male Responsible Program Development Conference. Dr. Witherspoon received the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Highbridge Advisory Council and the Outstanding Service Award for the United Jewish Appeal. Truly an advocate for children and students, Dr. Witherspoon's service to education and community champions the quest to improve the lives of US citizens.