One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”.
The post below is the story for May 15, 2015. My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
There is a saying “that politics makes strange bedfellows”. The quote is attributed to Charles Dudley Warner, an American essayist and editor. When you break that quote down what does it mean? To me maybe I am over simplifying but it is just people allying themselves with folks they otherwise wouldn’t for the sake of a common goal.
I have high esteem for a friend whose entire life has been all about working with people to achieve that common goal. His name is David Weinstein. David has had lots of roles in his life but in our community he has probably gained notoriety for his elected political offices but must people will tell you his most important role is that of a friend.
David attended NC State and spent a large part of his career after college working in merchandising and retail. His family had strong ties to Lumberton, NC and he was part of a family of Lumberton merchants whose fortunes grew with their hometown. In 1987 David was elected mayor of Lumberton, NC and served in that capacity until 1991.
Shortly after Chancellor Joe Oxendine came to Pembroke in 1989 David invited him and his family to his home to meet with members of the Lumberton community. He understood that a relationship between Lumberton and the university benefitted all.
Chancellor Emeritus Joe Oxendine who retired in 1999 has often been quoted “David realized the importance of working with everyone. He reached out to everyone to say we must grow together. I don’t know anyone who has been a better friend to this university.”
In 1992 he became a member of the Pembroke State University Board of Trustees and served until 1996. While on the board some important changes occurred including change the name of the university to UNC Pembroke. As an employee at UNC Pembroke I always appreciated David’s comments about our institution “It’s the crown jewel of Robeson County.”
David did more than just talk about the university he found ways to make it better. He has created an endowed nursing student scholarship. He established the Max M. Weinstein Endowed Scholarship in History in 2008. When his Lumberton synagogue, Temple Beth El, closed, he guided its final fund balance of more than $28,000 to UNCP. In 1996 he was elected as a North Carolina State Senator from District 13 and served in that capacity until 2010. David was a democrat and during most of his time in state office that was the prevailing party. He formed great friendships and those relationships allowed him to serve our region.
During David’s time in Raleigh he made sure UNC Pembroke and the region benefitted especially UNC Pembroke. While in the General Assembly David helped guide a total of $92 million to the university. A state bond referendum netted the university more than $60 million for new construction and renovations. Sen. David Weinstein was also able to carve out $6.9 million to build the first new residence hall on campus in 25 years. All of that is fabulous but the greatest tribute is the UNC Pembroke Health Sciences building. David Weinstein, the senator, convinced the General Assembly to set aside $10 million and then add another $19 million to build a new home for UNCP’s growing nursing program.
David was a friend to many including Robeson County’s most visible Republican Party spokesperson Bo Biggs.
The Friend of the Friend-BO BIGGS
If you want to get official Mr. Murchison B. Biggs, also known as Bo, serves as Chief Financial Officer, Comptroller, Secretary-Treasurer at K.M. Biggs, Inc. (farming and retail sales of farm equipment), Lumberton, NC. The family owns a diverse operation that includes a mall, real estate ventures and farming. Bo majored in accounting and economics at N.C. State University. He also earned his certification to become a public accountant. He worked for Edwards & Lewis Certified Public Accountants in Lumberton for a year after graduating before deciding to return to the family business. Today Bo operates the family business with his cousin, Kenny, whom he describes as more like a brother. Kenny happens to be my next door neighbor.
If you want to learn unofficially about Bo Biggs he is a lover of public radio, a Rotarian, a zealot about state and local politics, a trombone player in the band Second Time Around, a lover of animals, a republican, and a man who loves Robeson County. This is a man who took his future wife to a Jesse Helms fund-raiser on their first date.
Bo and his wife Gayla Biggs
As a teenager, he worked in the family hardware store on Elm Street in Lumberton as a salesman and handyman. His first job was a runner and waterboy, at the age of 9, at Smith Dixie Warehouse, a tobacco warehouse. He would take the paperwork and water between the warehouse office and the auctioneer on the sales floor. Bo would admit that he loves to look at campaign election reports. He would tell you he loves to find out who’s giving money to who. He would describe himself as a political geek.
In December 2014 Bo was selected to serve on the board of the state Golden LEAF Foundation, which works to promote the economies of areas that were hurt by the loss of tobacco-related jobs.
His passion for politics should not be confused with all or nothing philosophy we see a lot today on the national level. In fact he was profiled ten years ago about his ability to work with others and I loved his quote about how he changed his thinking:
Back then I probably was not as involved in as many organizations and could afford to be partisan,” Bo said. “I realize you can’t go around having it your way or no way. You realize if you want to accomplish things you have to build coalitions. This goes back to my more pragmatic outlook and I guess that is why I am not quite the grenade thrower I used to be.
When you are a republican in a democratic county it can be lonely at times. When you are Bo Biggs you find a way to counter that loneliness by being part of a common goal.
For Bo Biggs whether it was David Weinstein or any other democrat he always looks for that common good.
I am glad that people like David Weinstein and Bo Biggs became bedfellows over our community.