Perspectives Online

Aycock, 4-H benefactor and visionary North Carolina leader, dies in March

M. Edmund Aycock, 95, a lifelong supporter of North Carolina 4-H and N.C. State University, died March 30 at his Raleigh home. A 1936 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Aycock, who was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame this past October, founded the North Carolina Cattleman’s Association and led the charge in the 1960s for N.C. State University to keep its name (and not become UNC-Raleigh).

In 1984, Aycock was awarded the Watauga Medal, which honors those who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the university.

Aycock, who was born in Wayne County, earned his agriculture degree from N.C. State and then worked with Cooperative Extension in Vance, Johnston and Lenoir counties. During his years as a farm agent, he chaired several agricultural boards, including the Chancellor’s Study Committee on the Future of the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service.

He met his wife, Elizabeth, in the late 1930s at what is now known as 4-H Congress, the annual gathering of 4-H’ers from across the state for demonstrations and honor club. He was working with Cooperative Extension, and Elizabeth, a native of Johnston County, had just been crowned 4-H Health Queen. The couple married in 1939, eventually moving to Raleigh in 1955, where he worked with Wachovia Bank while continuing as a consultant for agribusiness start-ups.

Upon retirement from Wachovia in 1979, he was elected to the Wake County board of commissioners, where he was elected chairman within a year. In that role, Aycock “led the county's transition from its rural past to its modern future … while overseeing the installation of an emergency management system, the creation of a countywide network of libraries and the introduction of year-round education in Wake County,” said the Raleigh News & Observer.

Aycock, who joined 4-H at age 10, created with his wife the Edmund and Elizabeth Aycock 4-H Scholarship Endowment for N.C. State students of any major who have excelled in 4-H in any N.C. county. The Aycocks were named lifetime honorary members of the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund for their continued support of the program.

Said Dr. Michael J. Martin, executive director of the 4-H Development Fund at N.C. State, “Mr. Aycock was a legendary, visionary leader of agriculture and finance across our state, and he will be missed.”

Martin added that the Aycock family is naming the Aycock 4-H Scholarship Endowment as a charity in lieu of flowers.

—Terri Leith