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Noteworthy Alumni
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It is probably impossible to be involved with North Carolina agriculture and not be associated with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Just consider Frank Grainger and Sam Lee. Neither ever set foot in a North Carolina State University classroom as a student, but both have long made their living from North Carolina agriculture. That close association with North Carolina agriculture means the two men have also been closely associated with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

That association was formalized Oct. 1 during a ceremony at the N.C. State-Syracuse football game when Grainger and Lee were named honorary N.C. State alumni. Both were nominated to become honorary alumni by Dean Jim Oblinger.

Honorary Alumnus: Frank GraingerGrainger’s principal business is Fair Products Inc., a manufacturer of agricultural chemicals. But the Cary resident also owns a working farm in Columbus County, where he grew up. He has long been active and held leadership positions in agricultural organizations. Grainger also is a long-time supporter of N.C. State and the College. He is treasurer of the N.C. State Student Aid Association and a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. He also served as co-chairman of the 1998 4-H Gala.

“My association (with N.C. State and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) goes back to when I was a kid growing up,” Grainger says. “I was an active 4-H member. I was always closely connected to the university. I aspired to be an N.C. State student, but life didn’t lead me in that direction.”

He graduated instead from Wayne Community College in Goldsboro. As Grainger pursued an agricultural career — first selling, then manufacturing agricultural chemicals — he became more and more closely associated with the College.

Grainger’s connection to N.C. State extends even to his family. His wife, Judith, is an alumnus, as is daughter Michelle, who graduated in December. His son, Frank II, is a sophomore.

Honorary alumnus: Sam LeeLee, of Rocky Mount, is area sales manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. The area he supervises includes North and South Carolina, Virginia and nine counties in West Virginia. A Beaufort County native who grew up on a tobacco farm, Lee attended Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.

“There’s so much that we do as a company that ties directly to the university,” Lee says. “We have a large number of common goals. I believe very strongly in the university and what it means to this state and the citizens of this state and what it has contributed even on an international level.”

Lee is president elect of the N.C. Agribusiness Council. He also serves on the College’s Board of Advisors and as secretary of the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation board of directors. He also heads a steering committee working to raise $39 million for a new BioProtection Building, to be located on the Centennial Campus, that will house the departments of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Neither Grainger nor Lee took a degree from N.C. State, but both have given considerably more than their fair share to the university and the College.

— Dave Caldwell