Hot Off the Hoover … /
April 1, 1944, edition 1 /
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This month it is our privilege to pay tribute to one of North
Carolina's outstanding men •* the lato William D* Bums, of
tovndr.le, Noith Carolinar Mr, Burns was a leader in his chosen
profession, as principal of Piedmont High School at a time
when Piedmont was one of the leading schools of the State - Mr.
Bums* familjr make their home in Cleveland Countjr .1 Mrs,, Burns
and daughter, Mrs, Willirjn Parker in Shelby.. Lieut« William
Burns is at the present time‘ serving overseas with the U,S, Amy
and Robert Burns in Lawndale, The Hoover Rail Staff salutes the
memory of this beloved Educator, Willi.iam David Burns,
Mr, Horace Grigg, a former pupil of Mr, Burns, and v;ho has been
serving Cleveland County as Superintendent of Public Education
for mrr.y years has written the foUov/ing condensed sketch of his
former wise and faithful mentor.
Among the many excellent services being rendered by the Hoover Rail, is the
attempt to send to the service men and women of Lawndale something of the life and
spirit of the homo community. The message in this brief article is from the past,
but is none the less definitely a part' of the life and spirit of the Lawndale of to
day, "P^e" Osborne requested me to tell you something about the life of W,D, Burns,
Here is'that something, '
About 1899 1900 the quiet village of Cleveland Mills> .near Lawndale, was‘fav
ored with a visit by A young college graduate seeking a position as teacher in the
private school which had already been established by a "Professor" ;0ove. Surely the
time, the place and the man viere.v^ell met, for W. D, Burns was duly,'elected. And
thus was begun one of the great teaching careers of North Carolina,
"Professor" was bom in Onslow County, in eastern Carolina, a section frau which
he drew many of the interesting narratives with which he garnished his "pearls of
wisdom" in his frequent chapel talks. After an uncertain elementary educational train
ing, he studied at Wake Forest College where he -graduated with both an A.B. and an
L^L»B, degree, •'
Shortly after 1900, the school a.t Cleveland Mills was transferred to La^vndale,
and set up as the Piedmont High School, Backed by loyal friends, especially Maj; H.F,
Schenck, this school rapidly becoine one of the leading high .schools of the state, be
ing ranked at one time as the second largest non-denominational school of its type.
Piedmont, under the leadership and personal ma£^etism of "Professor" Burns, be
came a sort of educational miH, attracting boys and girls frcm the two Carolinas -
and beyond - and sending them forth to college and to'positions in life - a veritable
array of professional men and v;omen, community leaders, and upstanding citizens. Out
standing ministers, lowers of state-wide repute, nationally kno^vn business men, at
loc:.st two present state officials, one college president, and a host of others are
tangible evidence .of the greatness of Piedmont and the great spirit of the man who
gave to the institution it*s strength, >
In 1910, fire razed the main building at Piedmont, destroying the girls' dormit-
Gx-y, the dining hall, and most of the classrooms. Many thought that the school had
received a mortal-blow, but they had not reckoned vjith the spirit of W,D, Burns, nor
vdth that of the friends of Piedmont, From the ashes' of the old, a new, bigger, and
greater Piedmont grew, \^th more and better buildings, more pupils, and more teachers,
The advent of the public high schopl in North Carolina reduced somewhat the need
for the academy or boarding h?.gh school. Accordingly, about 1920 Piedmont became a
semi.-7.iblic high school, and in 1926 entirely a public high school. The number of
b-ir^rding pupils having been ^eatly decreased, the school became one of the large con
solidated schools of Cleveland County,
(Continued on next page)
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