Under the Dome

Political leaders react to news of former UNC system president Friday's death

Former UNC system president Bill Friday has died at the age of 92. Political leaders have spent the day reacting to the news:

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr: “Bill Friday was a leader, a visionary, a role model, and a friend.  Brooke and I were deeply saddened to hear of his passing, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all North Carolinians whoselives he touched.  Despite never running for public office, Bill was one of the brightest political minds I have ever known.  I enjoyed the time I spent with him both on and off camera, and his legacy in politics and education will endure for generations.”

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan: “Today, North Carolina lost one of our greatest leaders and advocates. A true public servant, Bill Friday helped shape North Carolina into the 21st century economic engine it is today. He grew the University of North Carolina system into the best higher education system in the country. He helped make Research Triangle Park a world-renowned center for innovation and entrepreneurship. And he advocated tirelessly to ensure that a college education was within reach for all North Carolina students. Most importantly, Bill Friday loved the people of North Carolina. That love was evident in his work for our state, as well as his weekly talk show where, for three decades, he welcomed the writers, thinkers, educators and others who were working to make a difference for North Carolina. Bill Friday was inspired by the citizens of our state, and inspired so many of us in return. He embodied the best of North Carolina, and his legacy will continue to live on in the many lives he touched.”

Gov. Bev Perdue: “Bill Friday was truly a renaissance man, a phenomenal educational and human service leader, a marvelous husband and daddy, and my friend. Bob and I are very sad to learn of his passing. His dedication and service to North Carolina and monumental impact on our state cannot be overstated. There has been no person in North Carolina’s history who more fully exemplified how one individual can, year after year, make a tremendous difference. It’s only fitting that today, University Day at UNC, that the Carolina angels called him home. We loved him so much and will miss him dearly.”

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton: “I am deeply saddened by the news of Bill Friday’s passing today, which is University Day. Dr. Friday was a good friend and one of the finest North Carolinians of this or any generation. We have lost a good man, one of North Carolina’s greatest public servants and a true champion of education. As the head of our UNC system, Dr. Friday worked tirelessly to make sure North Carolinians from every corner of the state would have access to an excellent, affordable education. Even after his retirement, his passionate work in the fight for a better future never diminished. We all owe Dr. Friday a debt of gratitude for his legendary service. Lucille and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ida Friday and the entire family.”

GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory: “Ann and I were saddened to hear of William Friday's death. I was honored to be on his show on two different occasions, and in addition to his outstanding intellect, he would immediately put you at ease with his gentlemanly nature. North Carolina will miss him greatly, but we will benefit from his contributions to our state for generations to come.”

U.S. Rep. David Price: “Bill Friday was a North Carolina treasure.  He led by inspiration and example—with dignity, compassion and humility—through over five decades of public service.  His legacy is a stronger state with a superb university system, a richer public life, a more vibrant culture and a diverse and resilient economy.  Bill was instrumental in giving the gift of education to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians—citizens who went out and served our state and nation in countless ways.  As a product of the University of North Carolina, I too owe him my gratitude for an educational experience that broadened my horizons and set me on my life’s course.  Bill continued his work for decades in what no one could really call ‘retirement’ with his public television show, North Carolina People. Like many North Carolinians, Lisa and I looked forward to inviting him into our home every week to see where he and his guests would lead us. In this and many other ways, we will treasure his memory and miss him greatly.”

N.C. Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger: “I was deeply saddened to learn of Bill Friday’s passing. Dr. Friday’s extraordinary talents and the quality of his leadership not only transformed higher education, but positively impacted countless individuals. There is no doubt that all North Carolinians are beneficiaries of the tireless efforts of this great public servant.”

Attorney General Roy Cooper: “Bill Friday’s extraordinary leadership improved the lives of millions of North Carolinians through affordable, quality education.  He is an education legend whose influence was unparalleled.”

C.D. Spangler, Jr., who succeeded Friday as president: “President Friday was the most significant educator in North Carolina in the 20th century. He has been a remarkable individual, and he’s been one of my personal heroes for many, many years.”

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