Dr. Bill Friday at one of his last public appearances, October 2011.

A Visit From Bill Friday

Dr. Bill Friday at one of his last public appearances, October 2011.
Dr. Bill Friday during one of his last public appearances, October 2011.

The fact that Dr. William Friday began his college career at Wake Forest College is a point of pride on both sides, and this year’s annual meeting was a happy reunion for all.

More than one hundred alumni and invited guests warmly received the former head of the University of North Carolina System on the afternoon of Sunday, October 23rd, sharing memories that dated back more than seventy years.

Along with stories of his professors, roommates, boarding house and lessons, Dr. Friday recalled his sophomore year transfer to North Carolina State University. Upon arriving at NCSU, he was surprised to discover he’d be operating a weaving machine rather than reading the classics. That is when, he said, he knew he was in a different place.

Also good for some lighthearted humor was News & Observer columnist Jim Jenkins, who introduced Dr. Friday with the suggestion that Wake Forest grads still wonder what he might have achieved if only he hadn’t left their beloved alma mater.

But there was more to the day than warm memories and laughs. During that long ago freshman year, Dr. Friday rented a room in one of the homes on Faculty Avenue. Now known as the Royall-Luddy House, it’s located directly across the street from the museum. Homeowner Julie Luddy Roach was pleased to walk Dr. Friday through the downstairs rooms, listening intently to his recollections of the Royall family, with whom he lived, and taking mental notes on his description of the home’s 1930s appearance.

As Dr. Friday said, it was a $50 tuition scholarship that allowed him to go to college. It’s an apt metaphor for our Wake Forest Historical Museum. Upon small generosities, great things are built. Please realize that each donation is enormously important to us. We are grateful for your support, your kindness and your interest in preserving this vital history of town and college.

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