Viking News Archive




This article appeared on the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools website. It's a great read and a wonderful tribute to our principal, Julian Gibson.

MAY 24, 2013 – Fifty years after Julian Gibson opened North Forsyth High School as its first principal, the school honored him by dedicating the 2013 yearbook to him today.

Teachers who worked with him and former students were among those on hand when Principal Rodney Bass presented Gibson with a copy of the yearbook during the school’s annual Senior Class Day, which recognizes seniors who have received scholarships along with other student achievements.

Gibson, 91, was principal from 1963 until 1984. He said that he was surprised and honored by the dedication and that his years at North were satisfying ones. “I enjoyed the kids and the parents and the teachers. I had good support.”

Bass said that Gibson worked hard to establish a positive atmosphere at North. “We’re honoring a true legend for North Forsyth,” Bass said. “Hopefully, we can carry on what he started for us.”

Most years, the yearbook is dedicated to a current teacher at the school, said yearbook adviser Sheila Beverly. But, with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the school coming up and the yearbook’s theme being “Then & Now,” everyone thought it would be appropriate to dedicate it to Gibson.

Beverly graduated from North in 1972, so Gibson was the principal when she went there. That was during the early years of integration, she said, and he did a wonderful job in dealing with the related turmoil.

“He was a leader in bringing that harmony for kids to be joined together for a good education,” she said.

Jim Lewis, now retired, came to North as a teacher in 1969. One of the things he appreciated about working with Gibson, Lewis said, was his straightforward manner.

“You always knew where you stood with him,” he said. “When he said something, you knew that was exactly what he meant.”

One of Gibson’s sayings was, “If you can’t be on time, be early,” and he followed that philosophy himself. He arrived earlier than most everyone, Lewis said, and each morning he walked the halls making sure that everything was as it should be. 

“He treated everyone the same, and when he thought something needed fixing, he said what he had to say in a pleasant way,” Lewis said. “The best boss I have ever worked for.”

Gibson hired Marie Furches, who is now retired, as a teacher after she graduated from Appalachian State University in 1980. “He was the absolute most wonderful principal to work for,” Furches said. “He was like a silent teacher, in a sense. He led by example. You learned so much from him by how he led the school. He was so observant. He knew everything that was going on in the school at any given time.”

Gibson worked for Forsyth County schools for more than 30 years. He was also the principal at South Fork and Northwest. During World War II, he flew fighter planes off carriers in the Pacific Ocean.

Joining Gibson at North today was his wife, Nancy Turner Gibson, who is also a retired principal, and his daughter, Pat Addison. Opal Allen, who was the school secretary when the school opened, was there, too. She is now 95 and came with her daughter Penny Rowe.

“He was just a wonderful person to work for,” Allen said. “He ran a good school, had good teachers and I enjoyed every day I worked there.”

Sheila Callahan, who graduated in 1967, appreciated the personal attention that Gibson gave students. “He knew all of his students personally by name,” she said.

And, if you need to talk to him about something, his door was always open. “You never had to worry about seeing him.”  

Gene Bowles, a physical-education and coach who is retiring at the end of this year after 25 years at North, is a 1969 graduate of North. “He was a unique individual and he cared about every student,” Bowles said. “He had the respect of the community and the parents. This was his school.”


From the Winston-Salem Journal 4/11/2012

Ronald Edward Ragan
July 6, 1955 - April 9, 2012

Ronald Edward Ragan, 56, passed away April 9, 2012. He was born July 6, 1955 in Boone, NC to James Edward Ragan and the late Myrtle Dotson Whitman. Survivors include his father; a brother, Larry Ragan of Tobaccoville; daughter, Lisa Marie Smith; son, Eric Ragan of Winston-Salem; two grandchildren; and various other relatives. Private family services will be held at a later date.

From the Winston-Salem Journal 4/8/2012

Randy David Burchette
May 29, 1955 - April 6, 2012

Mr. Randy David Burchette, 56, passed away Friday, April 6, 2012 at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. He was born in Forsyth Co. on May 29, 1955 the son of James Paul Burchette and Gladys Frazier Burchette. Randy was of the Baptist faith and a graduate of North Forsyth High School. He worked at King Auto Parts for several years and loved NASCAR racing and bowling. He was preceded in death by his father, James Paul Burchette. Randy is survived by his two children, Jessica Diane Burchette of Greensboro and James David Burchette and wife Jennifer of Charleston, SC, two grandchildren, Jaiden David Burchette and James David Burchette II, his loving mother, Gladys F. Burchette of Winston-Salem, a sister, Janie Marie Burchette of Dallas, GA and a brother, James Gary Burchette and wife Gail of Gadsden, AL. Randy is also survived by his loving girlfriend, Debbie Smith of King. The family will receive friends from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2012 at Hayworth-Miller Funeral Home in Rural Hall. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to; WFUBMC Palliative Care Floor, Winston-Salem, NC. Online condolences may be made at

Leigh Chadwick Beavers' mother, Jo Anne Chadwick, died Wednesday, Feb.15. Salem Funeral Home ( is handling the arrangements. Here's Leigh's address if you would like to send a card:

Leigh Chadwick Beavers
4240 Birch Creek Trail
Winston-Salem NC 27106

Byron "Buck" Horn (NFHS '75) died Friday, Nov. 11.

Congratulations to new grandparents Freddy Timmons and Jeannette Cummings Timmons! Ryan was born Thursday, Nov. 3. He's Freddy and Jeannette's fourth grandchild!
Mrs. Susan Joyce Hollifield, 54, passed away peacefully and met her Lord and Savior on October 24, 2011. She was born in Philadelphia, PA on January 7, 1957 the daughter of Frank and Henrietta Collins. Susan was a graduate of North Forsyth High School and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she majored in early childhood education. She was a member of Rural Hall Moravian Church and taught school at Salem Baptist for 7 years and Rural Hall Elementary School for the last 25 years. Her students were a huge part of her life and she taught each one of them to strive for the best and reach for the stars. Susan was married to Scott Hollifield and is also survived by a daughter, Kimberly Barker and husband Roman, a son, Jason Hollifield and wife Kari, a grandson, Ethan Hollifield, two brothers, David Collins and wife Carla and Steven Collins, her nieces, Anna Norman and husband Matthew, Beth Collins, Julie Collins and Jennifer Collins and one nephew, Jonathan Collins. Funeral services will be conducted 4:00 p.m. Thursday, October 27, 2011 at Rural Hall Moravian Church with the Reverend Dr. Steve Craver officiating. Burial will follow in Crestview Memorial Park in Rural Hall. The family will receive friends from 6:00-9:00 Tuesday evening at Hayworth-Miller Funeral Home in Rural Hall. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to: Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center, 3333 Silas Creek Pkwy., Winston-Salem, NC 27103.

Sherri Edwards Jackson's father, Billy Edwards, died Thursday, Oct. 20. Services were held Saturday, Oct. 22. Here's Sherri's address if you would like to send a card:

Sherri Jackson
P.O. Box 73
Tobaccoville NC 270501

From classmate Debbie Brooks: Halloween Celebration at American Legion Post 55, 111 Miller St., Winston-Salem. 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Oct. 29. Public invited; no one under 21 admitted. Singles, $5; couples, $8. Chicken stew while it lasts, full bar, snacks, DJ music. Grand prize for best costume. Proceeds go to Salisbury VA Hospital. Contact Debbie at for more information.

Wonderful story in the Winston-Salem Journal on Thursday, Oct. 6 about the 94-year-old father of our classmate Susan Gizinski Simmons getting a medal for his World War II service. Here's a link:
Most of our dads served in WWII; if yours did, you will especially love this story.

Louis Speas gets to play Father of the Bride for third time on Nov. 5. Congrats to Louis, Judy and Laura ... One more to go!

From Tracey Settle: Susan and I are leaving MD this afternoon to travel to VT. for our daughter's wedding! Miss Erin Summerville Hitchcock-Picton will wed Mr. Sinan Hummatoglu Sat. Oct. 8th at the historic Middlebury Inn, Middlebury, VT. Donations to prevent the father's demize into financial ruin and destitution would be gladly accepted! LOL! 

Arrangements have been announced for Debbie Anderson Veit's mother, Jean Anderson, who died on Thursday.

Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
Vogler and Sons Funeral Home
2951 Reynolda Road
Winston-Salem NC 27106


2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25
Bethany Baptist Church 
600 Old Hollow Road
Winston-Salem NC 27105