Looking Back: Officials hold ceremony for new hospital

Published 9:12 am Friday, July 27, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.

JULY 27, 1962


On Saturday, Sol W. Rawls Jr., president of the new Southampton Memorial Hospital under construction on the lower portion of the Hillview Farm at North High Street Extended and Fairview Drive, presided at a ceremonial laying of the foundation stone at the 108-bed facility.

Members of Southampton County Masonic Lodges added to the ceremony.

J.H. “Dutch” Holland, chairman of the hospital building committee, accepted the foundation stone on behalf of the hospital. Joe Taylor Stewart led Masonic rites and attended for representatives of all lodges in the county.

“Much has happened since we started, step by step, up the stairway toward the goal of the new hospital,” Rawls said. “The year, 1956, saw us begin our climb with the first step. It was the step of conceiving the idea of Southampton Memorial Hospital and giving birth to the charter, which created your board and its objectives.”

“A lot of work and four years later saw us take the great hurdle of step two,” he continued. “With many saying it couldn’t be done…you turned a deaf ear, and in the spring of 1960, the largest money raising campaign ever undertaken in our community was brought to a successful completion. Our goal of $1.2 million was enthusiastically oversubscribed by $400,000.”

“The spring of 1961 saw ground broken and work begun so that today we are taking and completing step three, the laying of the foundation stone,” he continued.

“Step Four is ahead of us, Rawls said. “The final and most important step. It will be the long awaited and hoped for dedication of Southampton Memorial Hospital. Its doors will be opened always to serve our people with the very best in hospital care, restoring us and our loved ones, in the years ahead, to health, happiness and useful lives.”

Rawls summed it up by saying, “the fourth step depends completely upon the people in this community. We are depending on our financial supporters to come through with complete payment of all pledges. Without such effort and accomplishment, step four will not be successful.”


The Board of Directors of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce has voted to organize the Franklin Industrial Development Corp.

Although the industrial development organization is still in the beginning stages, the Chamber Board has adopted guidelines and is forming the corporation.

Chamber President William Camp appointed Thomas Clark of WYSR radio to head up a steering committee to produce a charter for the corporation. Clark, chairman of the Chamber Industrial Development Committee, presented a proposed guideline for an industry-hunting group to the board of directors last week. It was approved.

The goal of the corporation will be to attract industry to the area. It will not, however, compete with TVDC, but will make sure that our community will have due consideration with that organization.

“Our next move is to employ an attorney to begin work on bylaws and get the corporation chartered by the State Corporation Commission,” Clark said. “Then, we hope to get area citizens interested in purchasing stock.”

“Once the corporation is formed, a major activity for us will be to either buy or obtain options on property that could be used as industrial sites,” he continued. “Thus, the property would be immediately available if an industry showed interest in coming here.”

Chamber Industrial Development Committee members pointed out and quoted from a section of their guidelines that “new industry is absolutely necessary for our economic health and growth, and some positive steps should be taken.”

Other members of Clark’s committee are Jack Flaherty, resident manager of Hercules Powder Co., and Franklin City Manager Harold Atkinson.

The 13 men present at the Chamber Board of Directors meeting all pledged themselves to buy stock in the corporation. They are Thomas Clark, William Camp, Clifford Cutchins, Floyd Briggs, Robert Ray, George Pillow, Edward Gilliam, Herbert Cobb, Sol Rawls Jr., Ashby Rawls, John Abbitt, Robert Pretlow and John Scott.

Corporation stock, which is expected to sell at $10 per share, will be offered to the general public.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is ParkerC@seva-redcross.org.