'Conley Call Highway' dedication

At “Conley Call Highway” dedication in North Wilkesboro are, from left, Town Manager Wilson Hooper, Pamela Call, Mayor Robert Johnson, Steven Call, Gracie Call, Police Capt. Brad Mathis and Fire Chief Jimmy Martin. Behind them are Commissioner Bert Hall and Myra Shumate. Gracie Call was Call’s wife; Steven Call was his son; Myra Shumate was his step-daughter and Pamela Call is Steven Call’s wife;.

A two-mile section of N.C. 268 East in North Wilkesboro is now publicly identified with signs as “Conley Call Highway” in memory of the longtime government, business, church and civic leader here.

Immediate family members of Call and town and N.C. Department of Transportation officials met Thursday to dedicate the highway, from Second Street to the town limits, in memory of Call.

The N.C. Board of Transportation unanimously approved the designation in December 2018. The North Wilkesboro commissioners endorsed this in October 2017, and it was requested by Call’s immediate family in late August 2017. Call was 86 when he died in early December 2017.

“I want to thank everyone for their contributions to make this happen,” said Gracie Call.

“Conley Call Highway” signs weren’t put up until widening of 3.7 miles of N.C. 268, from Second Street to Airport Road, was completed earlier this year. Contractor Young & McQueen Grading Co. started work on the project in the spring of 2015.

Call served two four-year terms as North Wilkesboro mayor, starting in 1993. After becoming a North Wilkesboro firefighter in 1956, he served in that fire department as lieutenant, captain, assistant fire chief and then as chief until his retirement in 1993.

He chaired the town’s Urban Renewal Commission in the 1970s. Using primarily federal dollars, the commission did much to shape North Wilkesboro’s present physical structure.

Call was an inveterate supporter of progress in Wilkes County. “A rising tide lifts all boats” was one of his favorite quotes.

He was a member of the North Wilkesboro Housing Authority, Wilkes Regional Medical Center Review Board, Wilkes County Board of Election, Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, Wilkes County United Way (including president), Wilkes Community College Advisory Board (including chairman) and Wilkes Fireman’s Association.

Call worked at American Drew furniture manufacturing in North Wilkesboro for 53 years, including as senior vice president of distribution and purchasing.

He was in the N.C. National Guard and Army Reserve for 37 years and commander of the Guard unit in North Wilkesboro. He retired as a colonel in the Army Reserve.

At First Baptist Church of North Wilkesboro, Call was a teacher of the John T. Wayland Sunday School Class, deacon and president of the Baptist Men’s Brotherhood and director of the Training Union. He served as chairman of the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association. Call also was a member and trustee at Flint Hill Baptist Church in North Wilkesboro.

He was a 63-year member of Union Odd Fellow Lodge, past Grand Master of the State of North Carolina, past Sovereign Grand Master of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows for the World, past Master of the North Wilkesboro Masonic Lodge-Yorkrite-Scotchriete and Shrine.

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