Charles Kuralt, 1934-1997
Charles Kuralt as a high school senior, 1951
by Dr. Dan L. Morrill & Bruce R. Schulman
Charles Kuralt, a native of Wilmington, moved to
Charlotte as a young boy when his father, Wallace Kuralt, became Director of
the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services. Kuralt, who died on
July 4th, is best remembered as a balding, corpulent, jolly-faced
fellow who spoke with eloquence and grace as a reporter and anchorman for
CBS Television. He began his journalism career in Ann Batten's 8th grade
journalism class Charlotte's Alexander Graham Junior High School, North
Carolina's first junior high school.
Alexander Graham Junior High School, at its former location on Morehead
Kuralt came back to Charlotte in 1996 to speak at Alexander Graham Middle
School's 75th Anniversary observances. Pictured below is Kuralt with
Principal Ann Clark, who was excited to bring one of her heros to share his
stories of the school's past with today's students.
Few would recognize the handsome visage of the class historian in the
1951 Central High School annual. Yes, that too is Charles Kuralt. Perhaps
the face is barely identifiable, but the language that he used in describing
his days at Central High is vintage Kuralt. Here is some of what he wrote.
He was seventeen years old.
Central High School
You stand there on the steps and think about it. You
think about the football games and the classes and the songs. You think
about your days at Central, each memory a fragment. It's not easy to think
of Central days as days that are past. They are still too close at hand:
days of precious friendships, honors, victories and defeats; the days of
the Blue and the White, when cheers became music and defeat cut deep; the
carefree days of laughter, of books and learning.
You turn and walk down the steps to the street
below, realizing something: Not only have you been part of Central, but
Central's been a part of you. It still is.
Charles Kuralt with his fellow Class Day Officers. Going from left to
right. Richard Yandle, Poet; Jim Nance, Prophet; Charles Kuralt, Historian;
Floyd Feeney, Lawyer.
In Kuralt's senior annual (1951) from Central High School, prophecies of
where the class of '51 would be in 1963 says this about Kuralt:
Here is a good picture of the Kuralt family - Charlie married Sory
Guthery. Something seems to be wrong with Charlie. Oh, I see, he's lost
his voice. If Charlie hadn't shouted so when he made his campaign
speeches, it never would have happened. Yep, Charlie has still got his
fingers in politics and his eye on Sory.
Kuralt went on to enroll at the University of North
Carolina. After graduating, he returned to Charlotte and became a newspaper
reporter and then an announcer for WBT. Next came New York City and the big
time. Who can forget his masterful performances on the CBS Sunday Morning
program or the compelling stories he told and the fascinating people he met
on his On The Road series? I can't. But never forget that Charles Kuralt
spent his childhood and early manhood days in Charlotte. He is buried in
Chapel Hill. Charles Kuralt will be sorely missed.