Former Gov. Jim Holshouser, 78, dies - WNCN: News, Weather

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Former Gov. Jim Holshouser, 78, dies

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Former Gov. Jim Holshouser died early Monday morning. He was 78. Former Gov. Jim Holshouser died early Monday morning. He was 78.
Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Robert Dole, right, talks with North Carolina Gov. Jim Holshouser, left, and congressional candidate Wilbur Mizell, Sept. 2, 1976 in Salisbury. (AP Photo) Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Robert Dole, right, talks with North Carolina Gov. Jim Holshouser, left, and congressional candidate Wilbur Mizell, Sept. 2, 1976 in Salisbury. (AP Photo)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Former Gov. Jim Holshouser died early Monday morning. He was 78.

A Republican, Holshouser served as governor from 1973 until 1977, he was the state's youngest governor.

A native of Boone, Holshouser was the first Republican elected governor in the state in the 20th century when he won during President Richard Nixon's landslide victory in 1972.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr called Holshouser "one of the kindest and most sincere people to ever become involved in North Carolina politics."

"His lifelong dedication to service to our state was defined by many outstanding accomplishments that made North Carolina a better place to live," Burr said.

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan echoed Burr's sentiments, saying, "Jim was such a good man."

"I've long admired his ability to work with Democrats and Republicans," Hagan said. "His moderate, consensus-building approach made him an effective leader who brought health clinics to underserved areas, bolstered our public education system and backed important legislation to protect our environment."

State Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger described Holshouser as "a dear friend and trusted adviser."

"He dedicated his life to serving others, and his legacy of strengthening our state's public schools and universities continues to ensure bright futures for our students."

Elizabath Dole released a statement saying, "Bob and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Pat, of 52 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Holshouser family."

Holshouser created a University of North Carolina Board of Governors to oversee the state's newly consolidated system of public universities and established health clinics in rural areas. He expanded public school kindergartens and added to the state parks system.

Gov. Pat McCrory visited the Holshouser family Sunday afternoon to pay his respects. Holshouser served on McCrory's transition team and offered advice on building a cabinet, preparing a budget and handling the demands of the governor's office.

"His counsel was invaluable," McCrory said. "Compassion was the foundation of Governor Holshouser's life. He was a champion of education. He made health care available in counties that didn't have doctors.  And he provided historic professional opportunities to women and minorities."

Rep. Thom Tillis explained that Holshouser was "an expert at building relationships with people of all backgrounds and political persuasions."

"His success was directly linked to his kind and decent demeanor, and the manner in which he defined statesmanship," Tillis said. "Even as his health failed him in later years, his service to North Carolina never stopped."

U.S. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers cited Holshouser's support for her as invaluable.

"Few thought I had a chance at winning, but the governor always believed," Ellmers said. "He would often reminisce of his mother, who was also a nurse, and the hard work and values she instilled in him."

After leaving office in 1977, Holshouser moved to Southern Pines and returned to practicing law. He also served 16 years on the UNC-system board.

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