I wanted to share this with everyone — a very pleasant surprise when I got home from Raleigh last week. From the March 6 Hendersonville Lightning:
Chuck McGrady, the lawyer turned summer camp owner turned Flat Rock Village Council member turned county Planning Board member turned county commissioner turned state legislator, turns 60 today.
McGrady, who also was national president of the Sierra Club, has made a mark here in several ways. He was the first local politician that I’m aware of who successfully ran for office on a platform of reasonable growth management. He has always been a serious policy maker when it comes to balancing the environment and business, and few around here have based a successful career on that.
Some people thought Mills River Mayor Roger Snyder might ride a more conservative view on the gay marriage ban — he favored it, McGrady opposed — and a fabricated gun rights issue to an upset of the freshman House member last May. (Yep, I was among “some people” wrongly predicted a squeaker.) It wasn’t close. McGrady won 57 to 43 percent. In a campaign that both candidates ran honorably, Snyder refused to sling mud. He said he would have voted the same way on an employer’s right to ban guns in the workplace.
In a state House filled with freshmen and sophomores, McGrady has still managed to get noticed. He won an important position on the education appropriations committee. Although school spending has not been a specialty of McGrady’s, House Speaker Thom Tillis chose him because he knew he’d work hard and take the job seriously.
McGrady has made his 60 years count. He has stood up and raised his hand. McGrady and his wife, Jean, and his family have been generous in giving to organizations that help children, the arts and the environment, without fanfare.
Dr. Kay McGrady, who died in 2008, was a longtime benefactor to Four Seasons hospice, the Children and Family Resource Center and many other agencies. Elizabeth House is named for her mother, Elizabeth Reilly, and a wing is named for her husband and Chuck’s father, Dr. Charles W. McGrady.
In some ways, McGrady is the anti-politician. He shows up but he does not make a habit of empty gestures. He laughs plenty but takes work seriously. I’ve reported in print before that he does not suffer fools gladly, which was one reason he had a hard time as a county commissioner and still winces at half the stuff he has to deal with in Raleigh.
In this week’s Lightning, Chuck’s wife, Jean, placed a Happy Birthday ad, showing Chuck as a boy, maybe 10, on horseback. It’s signed by Jean and their two children, Steve and Lisa, and their dogs, Bailey and Stagolee (paw prints).
I’m glad to see Chuck McGrady has four-legged companions to greet him when he gets home from Raleigh. He of all people knows well the admonition to politicians who toil in the snake pit of lobbyists and lawmaking: If you want a friend, get a dog.