Tony Rand ’61 – My Carolina Story

For many years, a member of the GAA Board of Directors has presented a “My Carolina Story” at each of the board’s quarterly meetings, and we are sharing their stories with all of our alumni. Hark the Sound.

One of the most memorable Carolina Stories was offered by longtime GAA Treasurer Anthony E. “Tony” Rand ’61 (’64 LLBJD), who, sadly, passed away on May 1, 2020. Doug Dibbert ’70 wrote his “Yours at Carolina” column in the May/June 2020 issue about Rand, titled “Tony Rand ’61: An Exemplary Leader.”

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“To me, Carolina was about learning to live and to do so with some degree of passion, interacting with all types and kinds of people.”

Jan. 14, 2012

Anthony Eden Rand '61 ('64 LLBJD)

Anthony Eden Rand ’61 (’64 LLBJD)

When Don Curtis ’63 asked me to do this, I was quite reluctant. For reasons I can’t explain, my Carolina experience is deeply personal and something I have seldom really examined. It was a great time for me and best viewed from afar. But when a media mogul puts the bite on you, I guess that’s it.

I was born in Panther Branch, Wake County, on land that had been in our family since before the Revolution. Lake Benson in Garner was Rand’s Mill in the old days. My birthday was the day “the War” started. That’s WWII. That day, Hitler invaded Poland, and I was born. My great-uncle was the doctor who delivered me and suggested to my mother that she name me “Adolph.” I’m glad the English won that one and the ensuing conflict. I tell you all this because without the Garner part, the Carolina part doesn’t make much sense.

Garner was quite small in those days. I was kin to ’most everybody there. In 1950, Garner was 1,200, Raleigh was 65,000 and Chapel Hill was 9,200. Eastern North Carolina was mainly an agricultural region. My father had been at Camp Lejeune during the war and came back and went into the electrical contracting business. He had attended N.C. State during the Depression but hadn’t finished. He was every bit as big a State fan as I have ever been a Carolina fan. My mother had finished in music at Meredith, but her two brothers had gone to Carolina.

I did about everything a boy did in those days. I picked a little cotton (the worst job I ever had), worked in tobacco, carried the morning and evening paper, hopped cars at the Toot-N-Tell, sold eggs door to door, was a page in the Legislature for over two months and almost flunked the eighth grade for being gone to Raleigh so much and, from the age of 10, I did electrical work. I finished at Garner High School in 1957 as Carolina won the National Basketball Championship, beating Kansas.

My high school performance was indicative of my scholastic career to come. I finished in the middle of a class that numbered 88 but was in the Honor Society. I was awarded a regular Naval ROTC scholarship for college. My brother, Walter, three years my elder, had been in the Marine Corps after high school and entered Carolina in the fall of ’56 — a  year ahead of me. Walt and I considered Dartmouth for reasons I can’t remember. For me to have gone to Dartmouth would have been to put silk hose on a hog. Our father felt as if he had been a total failure when his boys (and then our younger sister, also) went to Chapel Hill. His grandfather, Oscar Ripley Rand, had graduated from Carolina in 1854, a fact my mother, who was an undercover agent for Carolina, was always eager to remind him.

Life in Garner was that of the rural South at a time far distant from here. We kept a cow in the backyard, and I milked that damn thing twice every day. Eastern North Carolina was a male-dominated, completely segregated society. When I went to Chapel Hill in the fall of ’57, my world completely changed. I have said it was like going to the far side of the moon where I had never been before, and it really was. I roomed with brother Walt and Fred Hutchison ’71.

Fred was an older veteran who had been a graphic designer. He came back to get his BA degree. We were on the third floor of Aycock dorm in a small room that was OK, because none of us had much.

That first fall was a mystical time for me. As fall comes every year, I go back to that time in my mind as clearly as if it were yesterday. I joined the fraternity that Walt and my cousins were in and loved all the goings on. Jim Tatum ’34 was coaching football; Frank McGuire, basketball; and all was right with the world. Chancellor Aycock ’37 (’48 JD), who is my personal hero because of the Speaker Ban Law, took over for Chancellor House (class of 1916) in 1957, and Chancellor House stayed around to play the harmonica and teach.

I can’t go into much detail about my education at that time because I was a rather poor student. I didn’t care for foreign language, math and the sciences — so you can see my path was a touch rocky. I enjoyed ROTC — was on the drill team and formed a lifelong friendship with Admiral Norton ’61. You could flunk out in those days, as a good number did. I missed that experience — barely — and in the summer of ’58, the admiral and I went aboard the USS Canberra, CAG2, a guided-missile cruiser, and set out for the North Atlantic, hitting Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. We went to a bullfight in Spain — pulling for the bull — to Copenhagen from Sweden and to the World’s Fair in Brussels from Amsterdam. I was in about the same category as a seaman as I was as a student, and so, in the late summer after we returned, my progress was evaluated. I received a letter that our nation’s defense forces no longer required me. I still have the letter. This was a blow to my ego, my self-esteem and my finances, since the scholarship had paid most of the cost of college.

My parents were really proud of me. My mother, who was the duty paymaster, sat me down and said: “OK, old boy; here’s the deal. We’ll pay tuition, room, buy the books you can conclusively prove you must have and give you $3.50 a week on which to live.” Now some of you may think that this is a tad low. But I can tell you that you can make it on that. Pickle relish, peanut butter and jelly, and one of those long loaves of bread will carry you a long way. Then Sunday night, a friend and I would go to a broasted chicken place in Durham where, for 79 cents, you could get two pieces of chicken and all the rolls and honey you could eat. I could eat three or four dollars’ worth of rolls and honey. The second semester, I got $5 a week, and I got a job at the University Cafeteria uptown that paid for my meals. I was in the money, since I didn’t tell anybody I had a job.

I took my schoolwork a bit more seriously in my sophomore year. The first semester, I held my own, started up a tad the second semester, and in the summer of ’59, I came out. We also impeached the editor of The Daily Tar Heel my sophomore year. He wrote some bad stuff about Sunny Jim Tatum, who died suddenly that summer from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I made a D in French that summer, and it was the best grade I ever made, because I didn’t have to take anymore foreign language. I was out of the General College and could declare my major. All of this may seem a bit depressing to the modern observer, but let me tell you, I loved every day. I still have the dream that finals are tomorrow and I really need to buy the book, but I just loved it. I was getting into some poli sci, history and English literature — things that I really enjoyed. It is with a great deal of sadness that I tell you I don’t have anything like a “Julie London” story.

One of my favorite memories was during the second semester of my sophomore year. I had a state government political science class. One day, I went to sleep in class and woke up as the professor, who had seen me asleep, called on me and asked me a question he hoped would embarrass me. I had been a page in the Legislature, an observer of government and had actually studied, so I answered him forwards and backwards. After class, I went up and apologized and told him with a straight face that I had been up late studying. He appeared to accept that and then told me he was considering recommending me for the Honors Program and asked what my GPA was. I told him that if I did real well that semester, I hoped to get it up to a C. He almost threw up — but I assured him that I knew the deal and for him not to worry — I’d be OK.

As I went into my junior year, I was taking classes I really enjoyed. Dean Godfrey ’33 (MA), who was the dean of the faculty, taught English history and political science courses. I took everything he taught that I could get to. Dr. Lefler, Ray Dawson ’58 (PhD), Dr. Billy Jenkins and other poli sci and history teachers, were really wonderful. I regret deeply that I never took Dr. Harland or Honey Bear Hobbs to improve my GPA. I did take one course where the professor called you in individually and went over your grades and asked you what you thought you deserved. I asked for an A that the facts could support. I was applying to law school and all, and I thought an A would be good. He asked if I needed an A to graduate, or if I was [quality points] down. I told him no, so he said: “How about you taking a B? If I give too many A’s, they don’t like it, and some of these guys are going to need an A.” He assured me, of all people, that a B was really a good grade. How could I say no after that?

I had always been pretty sure I would go to law school. I was two things you needed to be then to go to law school: I was male, and I was white. In my law school class, there was one woman and two African Americans. Most women didn’t come to Carolina until their junior year, and there were only a very small number of African Americans on campus in those days.

After my junior year, I worked for the electrical contractor on the first building in the Research Triangle. This was a good job for that summer. And then, during two summers in law school, I worked for the electrical contractor on the high-rise dorms on South Campus, became great friends with the University architect who supervised construction and then wired his house he was building my last year in law school.

I really enjoyed law school. There was no foreign language (other than a bit of Latin, which was pretty funny), no math and no lab courses. Our class produced a four-term governor; a 12-term congressman; my brother, Walt, who came back; several major corporate counsels; and a bunch of good guys who became fine lawyers. My class presided over the dismantling of the Old Guard. We had [Maurice T.] Van Hecke, [Robert H.] Wettach, Albert Coates (class of 1918), Dean [Henry] Brandis ’28, John P. Dalzell, Frank Hanft, Seymour Wurfel, Millard Breckenridge, [Herbert] Baer and Freddy B. McCall, who all left about the time we graduated. Dan Pollitt, Dirty Dan Dobbs — who Orval Faubus ran out of Arkansas — John Scott and a few others, who shall remain nameless, were in the new cadre. Judge Dickson Phillips ’48 (JD) came our first year and later became dean. He told me he always really liked our class because it had a sense of humor.

My second year in law school, we had a professor from the University of Texas law school, Dr. Hubert Winston Smith MD, JD, come and talk about a program he ran in Crested Butte, Colo., in the summer. This really intrigued me, so I wrote and told him I would love to come out there. I told him I was an electrician of some note, could do a bit of plumbing and anything else that would persuade him to let me come. I guess he felt sorry for me, because he invited me to come. I spent an unbelievable summer at a medical-legal program for lawyers and doctors in Crested Butte, just as it was becoming a ski resort. I went fishing about every day — not because of my love of fishing, but because I needed to have something to eat. I met some really interesting people: Dr. Smith later represented Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassin; Dr. Alan Guttmacher of the Planned Parenthood Federation was there for a time; along with J.D. Lee, who became national president of the American Trial Lawyers Association; and Bond Holford, the lawyer for whom I went to work with in D.C. and Maryland when I finished law school.

I really developed my skill at hearts and bridge during law school. The lounge in the basement of Manning Hall always had a game going on. I was a better hearts player than a constitutional law student.

The give-and-take of law school was most interesting to me. I enjoyed the mental exercise and the challenges that the law presents and looked forward to beginning the practice of law. The year before we took the bar, more than half of that class who took it had flunked. There was some sweating in our crowd but most got through OK.

As I reflect on all of this, you can see that the scholastic aspects of Carolina haven’t been over-emphasized. To me, Carolina was about learning to live and to do so with some degree of passion, interacting with all types and kinds of people. I was a product of a small agricultural town in the Old South — more fortunate than most, because my father had been to college and my mother had a degree and we had some small economic stability. But my Carolina experience was about the larger world and about what you could do in it. And this isn’t about politics — this is about the rule of law, the administration of justice and the quality of one’s existence, about the guaranteeing of equal rights, about accepting people far different from anything I had ever seen before for just who they were, and understanding that wealth didn’t really make a person any better than the next one – just made him richer, that’s all.

The seven years were golden — after Korea and before Vietnam. It was a time when the Old Guard and the world were changing, I guess for the better. It sure was for me.

So, that’s what it was about for me. A joyous, compelling journey that was great fun and, by the way, I learned a little something.