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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 Street

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.

Sory Guthery

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.