Some of WNC’s stars will come into alignment this Saturday, Aug. 4, at the launch for Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina, a new book by Hendersonville author Jack J. Prather.
The release event, at downtown-Asheville bookstore Grateful Steps, will feature appearances by at least half of the luminaries profiled in the book, including public-relations pro Joe Epley, Grammy-winning musician David Holt, physician/author/filmmaker Olson Huff, Rev. Dan Matthews, who tended to victims at Ground Zero on 9/11, emergency-medicine pioneer Matthew Hayes, and Doug Orr, an author, musician and president emeritus at Warren Wilson College.
Each of Prather’s notables has a remarkable life story to tell. He originally set out to write a biography of an individual from these parts, but he was stumped on who it should be. During a stroll with his wife, Pam, Prather remembers, she provided a breakthrough. “I said, I’ve got to find someone to write a biography about who is meaningful,’ and she said, ‘Why don’t you write about more than one?’”
And so Prather set out to find a dozen folks to profile, choosing “to focus on living individuals, to raise the profile of a group of talented people who fly under the radar of what we call fame,” as he writes in the foreword.
Prather compiled a lengthy list of potential individuals, and then pared it down to 12. In the book, each one is highlighted with a lengthy, oral history-styled interview, a chronology of their main achievements, a selection of photos, and testimonials from friends and catalogues.
“The centerpiece is who they are as people,” the author says. “I wanted to get their core essences.”
Prather showcases a diverse group of people, but he found that they shared some essential values.
“For 50 years, my pet project has been to push for civil rights,” he says. “And every one of my notables, except one, had made efforts in that direction, and they expressed it freely and have done a lot to make it happen. And they wanted to give back to the community, which was another common thread.”
what: Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina launch party
where: Grateful Steps (179 S. Lexington Ave.)
when: Saturday, Aug. 4, (7-9 p.m. gratefulsteps.org)