Don Bolden, editor emeritus of the Times-News, died at the Hospice Home at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, 2018.
His wife, Billie Faye Bolden, preceded him in death April 1, 2017.
Surviving are a niece, Melinda Truitt of Raleigh, a great niece, Kristin Reinheimer of New York City, a great nephew, Christopher Reinheimer of Florida, sisters-in-law, Dolores Truitt of Elon and Cathy Busick and husband Fred of Reidsville, and a dear friend, Ted Scott Henson of Burlington. He was preceded in death by a brother, Earl Bolden.
Bolden graduated with the last class from Burlington High School in 1951. In 1955, he received a BA degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. As a senior he was a charter member of the UNC chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha, a national journalism honor fraternity. That year he also won the university’s writing contest with a feature on Alamance County’s Dr. Floyd Scott.
He later did special graduate work at the University of Tennessee-Martin.
While quite young, he learned photography from his father and in high school he was photographer for both the school newspaper and yearbook.
Some of his photos were published in The Daily Times-News, and in 1948 he went to work in the newspaper’s mail room. Later he became the number two photographer for the newspaper while still in high school. He worked there through high school and college and on graduation from UNC he became a full-time member of the news staff, writing both sports and local news.
He moved to city news coverage and then to a progression of newsroom jobs that eventually led to his being named managing editor in 1975. During those years he had handled the layout of the local paper during the early manned space shots, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the first manned moon landing. In 1982 he became editor, and six years later was named the first executive editor of the newspaper. It was from that post that he retired on Jan. 1, 2000 after 51 years with the organization. During his tenure as editor the Times-News won the general excellence award among dailies in North Carolina.
He continued writing his column after retirement and finally ended its run after 60 years in March of 2017.
Through the years he won a number of awards for writing and news coverage. In 1969 he received an award from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association for coverage of the arrest here of a suspect in a New York City murder case. He served as president of the North Carolina Associated Press News Council, and he also started the newspaper’s Newspaper in Education program.
He contributed to a number of national publications including Sports Illustrated.
Bolden’s newspaper work carried him to the Oval Office in the White House and to a two-week stay in the Soviet Union before its collapse.
He took an active role in his community, serving as a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, on the board of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, a board member of Crimestoppers, a member of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club board, a member of the board of the Downtown Corporation and a board member of the Christian Counseling Center. He also served as a member of the board of directors of the Alamance County Historical Museum.
For many years he was on the board of the Elon Homes for Children and had a role in the origin of the Elon School which later became the Burlington School. He also served as a member of the board of The Village at Brookwood, and he had an active role in the Hospice Golf Classic each year.
Bolden was a member of the First Baptist Church for more than half a century, and while there he was a Sunday School teacher, department director, associate deacon, deacon and trustee. He served more than 25 years as the first moderator of the church. He also served as moderator of the Mt. Zion Baptist Association.
On the state level he was a member of the board of the Biblical Recorder, the North Carolina Baptist newspaper, for more than 20 years, and he served on the Institutional Relations Committee of the Baptist State Convention.
He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Bolden developed a love for local history while at UNC where he had North Carolina history with Dr. Hugh Lefler.
From that interest he wrote 14 books related to local history and also did histories for his church, for local businesses and Elon Homes for Children. For many years he wrote a regular local history feature in the Times-News.
Just prior to his retirement he was appointed to the first board of advisors for the School of Communications at Elon University. That board helped bring the school from a few classrooms in the Fine Arts Building to one of the premiere communications schools in the nation. He served eight years as chairman of that group, during which time there was tremendous growth and a graduate program was added.
On retirement from that board he was awarded the Elon Medallion, the highest honor given by the university. He had previously received the Distinguished Service Award from the Elon Alumni Association. He was also selected as a member of the Elon University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
Over the years Bolden provided support for Elon University in a number of ways, as he felt it was one of the most valuable entities in the makeup of his county. He and Billie Faye provided a basketball scholarship in the women’s basketball program and gave support to other areas of the school as well.
Bolden was honored in many ways for his work. He was named Alamance County Man of the Year in 1990, American Business Women’s Boss of the Year in 1997, the Sam Walton Business Leadership Award and Boy Scout Man of the Year in 2003. He also received the Baptist Heritage Award from the North Carolina Baptist State Convention in 2001. In 2013 the Burlington City Council proclaimed March 29 as Don Bolden Day, and in 2014 he received the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.
In 1997, Freedom Communications, then the owner of the Times-News, originated the R. C. Hoiles Award to honor associates who best portrayed the philosophy of the founder of the company. Bolden was one of the first two to receive the award in a program in Anaheim, Calif.
One of his proudest accomplishments was the founding of the Alamance County War Memorial with his friend Worthy B. “Junior” Teague. The two came up with the idea and led the drive to fund it in Graham where it stands today with the names of every individual from Alamance County who have died in military action or the nation.
The family will receive friends at the Rich & Thompson Funeral and Cremation Service in Burlington on Saturday, August 4, 2018 from 4 until 6 p.m.
A Celebration of the Life of Don Bolden will be held at the First Baptist Church of Burlington on Sunday, August 5, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. by Dr. Terry Peele. A private committal service will be held at Alamance Memorial Park.
Memorials may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215 or to the First Baptist Church of Burlington, 400 South Broad Street, Burlington, NC 27215.
The family would like to express their gratitude to the staff of Hospice and Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell for kindness and compassion shown to Don and his family.