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Planned Statues

Loonis McGlohon
Loonis McGlohon

Loonis McGlohon

Loonis McGlohon was one of America’s most beloved songwriters and jazz pianists.  Born in the small town of Ayden in Pitt County, North Carolina, Loonis Reeves McGlohon was enthralled as a boy by the big-band sound that permeated across the airwaves in the 1940s and learned to play piano from the organist at his family’s church. After graduating from East Carolina University, Loonis enlisted in the military and was assigned to the Army Air Force, where he became an official pianist.

After World War II ended, he became involved with broadcasting in Charlotte, working as the music director for WBT (AM) radio and WBTV (CBS affiliate). In 1945, Loonis married Nan Lovelace. The couple had three children: Reeves, Fan, and Laurie.

In addition to his radio work, he formed his trio for club and concert engagements, appearing across the US, including three times at Carnegie Hall and in Japan, China, Singapore, France, Italy, and the UK. Loonis accompanied several legendary singers, including Helen O’Connell and Judy Garland (1964-66), and was musical director for Mabel Mercer (1978-80) and Eileen Farrell (1981-96).

In 1978, Loonis joined longtime collaborator Alec Wilder to host American Popular Song for South Carolina’s ETV Radio, which received a Peabody Award. Loonis donated the recordings of this program to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Among the songs Loonis wrote with Wilder are Blackberry Winter, Be a Child, and While We’re Young. Loonis wrote both music and lyrics for the song Songbird. With Wilder, he also wrote music and lyrics for the former Land of Oz attraction.

For his hometown of Charlotte, McGlohon wrote the music for LeGette Blythe’s outdoor drama, The Hornet’s Nest, staged in 1968 at a new amphitheater at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. The two principal songs were “This is the Day!” and “What Will the World Be Like!”

In 1980, Loonis’ longtime friend Frank Sinatra recorded two songs by McGlohon and Wilder,  South to a Warmer Place and A Long Night. In 1985, Loonis was commissioned (with friend Charles Kuralt) to write a piece to celebrate North Carolina’s 400th birthday. The result was North Carolina Is My Home, a symphonic work with narration and vocals that became a recording, public TV broadcast, and book. He was inducted into the NC Music Hall of Fame in 1999.

Before his death from lymphoma in 2002, NationsBank Performance Place in Charlotte’s Spirit Square was named the Loonis McGlohon Theatre. His ashes are in the Carmel Presbyterian Church Columbarium, where he served as the church’s music director for many years.

George and Marie Davis
Siloam School at Charlotte Museum of History

George and Marie Davis

George Davis was born in Wilmington, NC, in 1863.  He attended Wilmington’s Gregory Institute and then taught school in Laurinburg, S. C. from the age of 15.  He arrived at Biddle Institute in the late 1870s, graduating with an A. B. in 1883, at the age of 20.  He then proceeded to Howard University in Washington D. C. to study medicine.

The faculty at Biddle pressed him to come back and become a professor, and in 1885, at the age of 23, he did so and became the first black professor at Biddle, a decision that would affect many lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in the nation.  Five years later, he received his Ph.D., and in 1905, he was appointed Dean of the Faculty or Academic Dean, a post he would occupy as long as he worked at Biddle.  Biddle Institute, today named Johnson C. Smith University, was one of the first five black colleges founded in the South at the end of the civil war and, today, prospers as one of the leading historically black colleges in the United States.

In 1891 George Davis married Marie Gaston.  Together they had seven children.  In 1908, with her children mostly grown, Marie went to work for the Charlotte School System as a teacher in the Negro schools.  In 1913 she became the principal of Charlotte’s Fairview Colored School, remaining in that position for 32 years until she died in 1945. Fairview Colored School was the first brick Negro school in Charlotte and “the pride of the community.”  In 1953 the Marie G. Davis School in Charlotte was named in her honor.

Each summer for over 20 years, the Davises taught a summer school at Biddle to provide continuing education to Negro teachers in the local school systems.  Over the years, this significantly raised the quality of Negro education in Charlotte and the surrounding area.

In 1920-21 Dr. Davis retired from Biddle Institute at the age of 57 to join the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction with responsibility for the Rosenwald School construction program.  Julius Rosenwald was President of Sears, Roebuck, and Company.  Booker T. Washington convinced him that he could do good by offering matching grants to rural communities in the South to build school buildings.  The structure of this funding was influenced by his friend Andrew Carnegie.  Dr. Davis was highly successful in speaking to black citizens throughout North Carolina and persuading them to contribute matching funds to build Rosenwald Schools.  

In his first year in office, he traveled 15,000 miles, mostly on dirt roads. By 1932, George Davis had raised $666,736 from black communities around the state for Rosenwald schools. At that time, there were 787 schools, 18 homes, and eight shops partially built by the fund in the state, which had the capacity for 2,538 teachers and 114,210 pupils and were constructed for a total cost of $5,167,042. Eventually, all but seven of North Carolina’s 100 counties boasted at least one Rosenwald facility.   In Mecklenburg County, there were twenty-six Rosenwald schools.  Marie accompanied her husband on many of these trips, speaking to the crowds and meeting with community leaders.

The philanthropist Julius Rosenwald died in 1932, and although the Foundation continued in existence, the school building program was terminated.  When his work developing Rosenwald Schools ended, he retired from the N. C. Department of Education at age 73 and commenced a new career as the executive director of the North Carolina Teachers Association.  He directed that organization for the next twelve years until his wife of fifty-three years died unexpectedly of a fall in 1945.  Dr. George Edward Davis moved to the home of his daughter in Greensboro and died there in 1959 at the age of 96.  He is buried in Charlotte in Pine Wood cemetery next to his beloved wife, Marie. 

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