PINEHURST – North Carolina’s 68th governor and first Republican governor of the 20thcentury, Jim Holshouser, has died at the age of 78 after a prolonged illness.

James Eubert Holshouser was a native of Boone before he graduated from DavidsonCollege. He then received his law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and later returned to WataugaCounty where he practiced law with his father.

WCHL’s legal and political analyst, Hampton Dellinger, says Governor Holshouser’s election was important for aspiring Republicans in the state.

“He was a model in a couple of different but pivotal ways,” Dellinger says. “First, for Republicans to show that they could run and win statewide in North Carolina—something they had not been able to do successfully for so often in the 20th century.”

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While in office, Holshouser created the Board of Governors which oversees the 17-campus UNC system. He also expanded public school kindergartens statewide as a proponent of education.

“It’s a different legacy, I think, legislatively,” Dellinger says. “Probably not as deep as Governor Martin, and we’ll see what the case is with Pat McCrory. But Pat McCrory is not faced with working across party lines the way Jim Holshouser was.”

Holshouser was elected in 1972 and served from 1973 to 1977. He was the youngest governor since the 1800s.


UNC President Tom Ross has offered the following statement on the death of former Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr.: 

“For more than four decades—as a state legislator, as North Carolina’s governor, as an elected member of the UNC Board of Governors, and as a long-term board member emeritus—Jim Holshouser was actively involved in the development and evolution of the University of North Carolina. On any issue of long-term importance to the University or higher education in this state, his counsel was sought out and highly valued. He was seen as the elder statesman of the Board of Governors, one with a gift for simply, but eloquently getting to the heart of a complicated issue, bringing together diverse points of view, and guiding his colleagues to consensus or resolution. Throughout his long and storied career, Governor Holshouser personified the true meaning of statesmanship and servant leadership, and our University had no greater friend or better role model. He will be deeply missed.”