Bingham Didn’t Fall Under Raleigh’s Spell

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2011

Donald Bingham fit the citizen-politician envisioned by the nations’ founders — someone who volunteered to serve in government for a little while and then went about his own business.
He stepped away undefeated from stints in the N.C. House and N.C. Senate representing Davie County with little doubt that voters would have kept sending him to the General Assembly for as long as he wanted to go. The bright lights of Raleigh just weren’t that alluring.
Bingham, 86, was buried last week at Bethlehem United Methodist Church. He was one of those rare politicians unblemished by a trip to Raleigh, not seduced by lobbyists and uninterested in making politics his life’s calling.
Business was more interesting. He was pretty good at that too. His affable nature charmed the Smith Grove community where he settled with pretty wife Sarah after World War II.
She went to Raleigh as his secretary when he was elected in 1965. Determined not to waste his money, Bingham drove an old bus to Raleigh he had converted into a motor home.
He was one of only a handful of Republicans in Raleigh then, but he didn’t let being outnumbered prevent him from being effective. He easily horse-traded for votes in the legislature and didn’t view Democrats as bitter enemies the way Raleigh operates these days.
At the funeral, family members recalled some of Bingham’s witticisms: “Every old dog needs a pat on the head sometimes.” He and partner W.D. Parks opened Bingham & Parks Lumber in 1953 and bought timber and lumber from landowners and sawmills across the area.
He engendered a rare trust with his customers. People liked him. “A man’s man,” one of the speakers at the funeral described him.
When nephew Stan Bingham of Denton ran for …