By Lisa Brown
At the April 4 Mayor and Town Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Barry Wayne Whitaker, who turned 75 just two days before, was honored by the Town of Rolesville with its first-ever Legacy Award. The plaque presented to Whitaker expressed the Town’s appreciation “for the many years of volunteer service and strong leadership to the Wake County Public School System, the growth of public education, and the Rolesville community”.
Education has been important to Whitaker, and it shows both in his personal pursuit and the work he has done for others.
“I believe education is the key to a better tomorrow,” said Whitaker who obtained a master’s degree from North Carolina Central University.
His many contributions and service to Rolesville and the surrounding area span decades.
From 1976 to 1992, he served on the Parent Teacher Association while his children were in school.
Whitaker also served on the Wake County Public School System’s Advisory Council for 10 years. That tenure was an honor in and of itself, since at the time the rule was that someone could just serve one year.
“I just kept going,” he said. “I had good people around me. I didn’t do it myself, but I was a good leader.”
Other accomplishments include serving on the Rolesville Board of Commissioners, helping to obtain an auditorium for Wake Forest-Rolesville High school, acquiring funding for Rolesville Elementary School sewer system and developing a help line for area kids. He also was honored as an outstanding volunteer by Wake County Board of Commissioners, became a lifetime member of North Carolina Congress of Parents and Teachers, assisted in obtaining a new bus for Rolesville High School and helped open the first bank in Rolesville.
The presentation was a well-kept secret and one so secret that it wasn’t on the agenda. Even Whitaker’s wife Betty, a current Town Commissioner, knew nothing of the award until that evening.
Commissioner Frank Hodge has worked with Whitaker and was pleased to make Whitaker the first recipient of the Legacy Award.
“Barry Whitaker represents old-school values,” Hodge said. “He’s committed to family, education and community and is willing to stand up for what he believes in. I am proud to be his friend.”
When summing up Whitaker’s legacy and ability to get things done, Wake County Public Schools Superintendent (2000-2006) Bill McNeal said, “How do you say ‘no’ to Barry Whitaker? You don’t.”