WNC Magazine lists region’s “50 most influential people”

In its new issue, Asheville-based WNC Magazine presents profiles of Western North Carolina’s “50 most influential people, past and present.” The list, compiled with the assistance of historians from area universities, spans hundreds of years and a diverse set of figures.

Some of the choices — George W. Vanderbilt, Thomas Wolfe, Zebulon Vance, etc. — seem obvious ones. Other names are lesser known. Those featured include artists, politicians, athletes, writers, business leaders, activists, teachers and people from other walks of life.

WNC offered no shortage of potential personalities to include on the list, Editor-in-Chief Eric Seeger notes in an editor’s letter about the package. “We could have easily included 100 people on the list and still felt like we were leaving out a good many names,” he writes. The magazine says it wants to hear from readers about other names that should make the list; suggestions can be sent to letterstoeditor@wncmagazine.com.

Click here to read the story, which offers summaries of what each person did to shape WNC. And see the list of the 50 names below.

Jon Elliston, managing editor

George W. Vanderbilt 1862 – 1914
Senator Sam Ervin, Jr. 1896 – 1985
Rev. Edgar Tufts 1870 – 1923
Thomas Wolfe 1900 – 1938
Hugh McRae Morton 1921 – 2006
Isaac Dickson 1831 – 1918
Doc Watson b. 1923
Lucy S. Herring 1900 – 1995
Owen Meredith Ballou 1766 – 1847
John Ehle b. 1923
Thomas Lanier Clingman 1812 – 1897
Gertrude Dills McKee 1885 – 1948
William Holland Thomas 1805 – 1893
Bascom Lamar Lunsford 1882 – 1973
Col. Robert Love 1760 – 1845
Junaluska b. unknown – 1868
Junior Johnson b. 1931
Maggie Axe Wachacha 1892 – 1993
Robert Reynolds 1884 – 1963
Dr. Carl A. Schenk 1868 – 1955
Yonaguska approx. 1759 – 1839
Rev. Billy Graham b. 1918
James Patton 1764 – 1845
Tench Coxe 1755 – 1824
Solomon Lipinsky 1856 – 1925
Zebulon Vance 1830 – 1894
John Andrews Rice 1888 – 1968
Frances Goodrich 1856 – 1944
Gail Godwin b. 1937
Joyce Dugan b. 1948
Samantha Bumgarner 1868 – 1955
Jerry Moore b. 1939
David Lowry Swain 1801 – 1868
James Holshouser b. 1934
Elisha Mitchell 1793 – 1857
Will West Long 1870 – 1947
Robert Bushyhead 1914 – 2001
Horace Kephart 1862 – 1931
Mary Jane Queen 1914 – 2007
Wilma Dykeman 1920 – 2006
Jarrett Blythe 1886 – 1977
Edwin Wiley Grove 1850 – 1927
Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice 1924 – 2003
Olive Tilford Dargan 1869 – 1968
Warren Haynes b. 1960
Augustus Merrimon 1830 – 1892
Ray Hicks 1922 – 2003
Bob Moog 1934 – 2005
Carl Sandburg 1878 – 1967
Dr. Mary Sloop 1873 – 1962

About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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3 thoughts on “WNC Magazine lists region’s “50 most influential people”

  1. AvlResident

    Is WNC’s list “50 Famous People Who Were Born or Lived in WNC” or is it “50 People Who Had the Greatest Influence ON WNC?” Some of these people changed the way we live in WNC, changed the way WNC is seen and others exerted their influence mostly outside WNC. As wonderful as he was, for example, did Robert Moog have an influence IN and ON WNC? One could argue that Julian Price had a greater influence IN and ON WNC. What about Rep Roy Taylor, who was responsible for the Blue Ridge Parkway?

  2. Jeff Fobes

    The Citizen-Times ran an ineresting story in the ’90s listing their 50 (or so) most influential people of the area.

    That would be a good list to post here, for comparison. Can we get a copy of that story? The NC Collection librarian at Pack Place can probably track the story down (Note to Xpress archivist Margaret Williams: There’s a chance we could find it filed in the Xpress files.)

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