Longevity at the NCGA: fifth decade for some (seventh decade for one)

A reporter recently asked me how to find the names of some Legislative Assistants (LA) who served in a previous session of the North Carolina General Assembly, that question got me thinking about how long some legislative employees and legislators have been around.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Longest-ago staff service (temporary and permanent):

1963, 1967 to date: Anne Cole — Legislative Assistant Director, started as an Assistant Enrolling Clerk for the House in the 1963 session, was gone in 1965, returned in 1967, was gone 1968-1979 and has been here on either a temporary or permanent basis since 1980. (NOTE: The Legislative Building opened in 1963.)

Longest continuous staff service (temporary and permanent):

1965 to date: (tie) Dot Barber, currently LA for Rep. Ray Rapp, started as an Assistant Engrossing Clerk for the 1965 House. Shirley Phillips, currently LA for Rep. Joe Tolson, started as a committee clerk in the 1965 House. Dot was longtime LA for former Speaker Liston Ramsey. Honorable mention: Joan Leatherman, currently LA for Senator R.C. Soles, started as an Engrossing and Committee Clerk for the 1967 Senate.

Longest continuous staff service (permanent):

1972 to date: Terry Sullivan, currently Research Director, started as a staff attorney for the Legislative Services Commission.

Longest-ago legislative service:

1967: Representative Jimmy Love, House 1967-1976, 2007 to date.

Longest continuous legislative service:

1969: Senator R.C. Soles, House 1969-1975, Senate 1977-date. This may be the longest continuous legislative service in state history.

Other interesting tidbits:

Senator A.B. Swindell (now in his fourth Senate term) was on the Sergeant-At-Arms staff for the 1967 Senate. Representative Becky Carney (now in her third House term) was a proofreader and bill typist in the 1967 session.

I’m sure if I’ve made any mistakes or omitted anyone they will be sure to tell me. Me, I started on legislative staff in 1977.

UPDATE July 17:

  1. A.J. Jones of the House Principal Clerks Office was here first, she lived from 1943-47 in a duplex on the site of the State Legislative Building (which was opened in 1963). This qualifies for an honorable mention.
  2. Franklin Freeman (the Governor’s legislative counsel) says he was chief Senate page in 1963. Sorry, I’m not counting page service, and he’s not currently on legislative staff anyway.

UPDATE July 19: 21: A.J. Jones (a current employee in the House Principal Clerk’s office) in 1945 lived in a house right under where the Senate chamber and Senate Principal Clerks office is now. I pulled the Raleigh City Directory for 1945. Listed at 216 Halifax Street was Harry Gosnell. Going north from Capitol Square, 214, 216, and 218 Halifax were the three houses on the right between Jones and Lane Street, which would have put A.J. midblock. She lived on the first floor of a two story walkup, which would have put her entry door around the center of the Senate chamber, but one floor down. In the 1945 City Directory alphabetical directory she’s listed as “Anna Gosnell, helper, Raleigh Letter Writers”. A.J. says that was her job back in 1945. A.J. said she moved to the house in 1943.  (updated July 21, Rosa Kelley said Anna’s house was on the right hand side of the street.

The House chamber is on the site of what was a Nabisco bakery in 1945.

UPDATE: July 23: Rosa Kelley (Stephenson), LA for Rep. Charles Thomas said she lived at 118 Halifax between 1944 and 1948, on the site of the new Museum of History. She was three doors down from A.J. Jones (Gosnell), and went to church with A.J. in the mid ’40s. I’ve put up a separate post about Halifax Street in the 1940’s.

UPDATE: August 16: Annie Cooper, House Principal Clerk from 1943-1968, and an assistant in that office from either 1921 or 1923-1942, had at least 46 years continuous service, compared with Dot and Shirley’s current streak of 44 consecutive years. I’m trying to find old records to see her beginning year of service, but the oldest records we have at the General Assembly date back to 1929 which show her service that year. Her daughter, Dora Cooper Beale, told me in a phone conversation this week that her mother started in either 1921 or 1923, which would give Miss Annie either 46 or 48 years of consecutive service. A trip to the Archives may be in order, and I have a call in to State Capitol historian Raymond Beck.


7 Responses to Longevity at the NCGA: fifth decade for some (seventh decade for one)

  1. Ann Jordan says:

    Keep up the good work. I love to read about people in the Legislature.

    Ann Jordan

  2. Judy Veorse says:

    What fascinating info! Thanks for giving us the facts and congrats to those that are still here.

    Judy Veorse

  3. Shirley Phillips says:


    What fun to read about all us oldsters and thanks for the info – I will add it to my Leg. Scrapbook…..

  4. Roz Savitt says:


    What about old lobbyists – not me of course! I only go back to 1985.


  5. Patricia Yancey says:


    I enjoyed reading the history of longevity at the NCGA. It is quite interesting since I personally know many of the individuals about whom you wrote. I met many of the staffers when I worked for Jim Hunt during his tenure as the first full-time Lieutenant Governor.

    Patricia Yancey

  6. sara jane lennard says:

    Don’t know how all this knowledge fits into one man – the desire to track it down and have time to write it down for all who are interested. Thanks for all you do!!!!

  7. Chris Floyd says:

    I saved these to read again and enjoy. Thanks for all the time/work you put into getting this info.

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