Daniels Named North Carolinian of Year
Frank Daniels Jr., majority owner of The Pilot, jokingly says he has more in common with former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon than any other past winner of North Carolinian of the Year.
"Because I used to shoot free throws underhanded, too," Daniels said Wednesday.
Former president and publisher of The News & Observer of Raleigh, Daniels scored a slam dunk Thursday night when the North Carolina Press Association bestowed the prestigious award on him at its Winter Institute in Chapel Hill.
To see a video tribute to Daniels played during the ceremony, click here.
"I am honored to be in the company of such a distinguished group of North Carolinians who have received this honor," Daniels said.
NCPA began giving the award to "outstanding representatives of our state" in 1993. Honorees have come from a variety of professions: entertainers, politicians, sports legends, religious and educational leaders, and journalists.
Besides Lemon, past winners have included Dean Smith, the Rev. Billy Graham, Hugh Morton, Gen. Hugh Shelton, Richard Petty, Elizabeth Dole and Doc Watson.
"I thought they'd run out of people to give it to," Daniels said when asked about his initial reaction to joining such a distinguished group. "That really was my first reaction. Why would they pick me? I was quite surprised and very flattered."
Daniels said it meant "a great deal" that the award came from the NCPA, a group in which he was active for "a long, long time," including a stint as president.
"They've been on the front line of the battle to ensure that our state's open records and open meetings laws are upheld," he said.
David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot and past NCPA president, said he couldn't think of "a more deserving person to receive this honor" than his uncle, whose role with The Pilot goes back 17 years.
"Frank loves North Carolina, and he loves newspapers," Woronoff said. "He's spent a career working for the betterment of both. He joins an impressive list of past winners, and he's certainly right up there with those giants in the pantheon of North Carolina culture and business."
Daniels comes from a family steeped in the newspaper industry. His grandfather bought The News & Observer in 1894 and served as publisher until 1948. Daniels succeeded his father as president and publisher in 1971.
Daniels has led nearly all of the key newspaper industry organizations, having served as chairman of The Associated Press, the American Newspaper Publish-ers Association Foundation (now the Newspaper Association of America), and the Newspaper Advertising Bureau. He served as president of the North Carolina Press Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.
More recently, Daniels served as co-chairman of the effort that raised nearly $9 million to fund the work of the SNPA Foundation.
Daniels recently served on the board of governors of the University of North Carolina. He has been chairman of the Smithsonian National Board, the Triangle United Way, the Greater Triangle Community Foundation, and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.
He has been a director of Smithsonian Business Ventures, Commonwealth Fund, Landmark Communications, Mutual Insurance Co., UNC Hospital Systems, Roses Stores and the Telecable Corp.
He has served as a trustee of the Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina, St. Mary's College and Peace College. He was also vice chairman of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.
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