Want to be an engineer or mechanic? Foundation has a scholarship for you

Published 12:57 pm Sunday, September 4, 2022

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This is the 10th in a series highlighting the people and organizations behind the named scholarships administered by the Davie Community Foundation.

“We believe young people need to know something about the people for whom their scholarships are named. Hopefully, they will feel even more motivated to succeed,” said Jane Simpson, foundation president and CEO.

Rosa & James Clyde Cook Sr. Memorial Scholarship

Carolyn Cornelius, one of Mr. and Mrs. Cook’s daughters, and her husband Robert, started the scholarship fund in memory of her parents to help other kids pursue their dreams of becoming mechanics. Additional education is required since computer skills are now needed to work on vehicles.

Robert and Carolyn are both deceased, but their support of young people in the name of her parents lives on through the scholarship.

Robert Cornelius joined the Army shortly after he and Carolyn were married. He served two years as a M.P. at Fort Myers, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C. After his service with the Army, he returned to Davie County and went to work for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as a lab technician. He is a former member of Smith Grove Fire Department, where he was assistant fire chief when the department first began.

He had a love for antique and classic cars; he owned three at one time. He was a NASCAR fan and loved hunting and working in his garden and yard.

Carolyn worked for the Hanes Knitwear division of Sara Lee for 37 years. This is where she met Robert, who was a sewing machine mechanic before he went into the Army. Carolyn ran a sewing machine for 18 years before becoming a supervisor and then assistant quality control manager before retirement. She was an expert seamstress, making all of her own clothes. She enjoyed sewing, crafts, and working in her yard and flowers.

Clyde and Rosa Cook

James Clyde Cook Sr. was born in 1900 and his wife was born in 1902. They had 10 children, five girls and five boys. Mr. Cook ran a garage at his home for many years, eventually moving his business to the corner of US 158 and Redland Road in Davie County. It was in the building attached to the grocery store owned by Mr. Duke and Effie Smith, now known as Andy’s Grocery.

Mr. Cook worked on cars, trucks, and anything that needed fixing. In his day, Davie County was more farm country, so he worked on a lot of farm machinery. If something broke down, he fixed it. He even made parts for machinery if the farmer needed a part that wasn’t available, or the farmer could not afford to buy the new part. Mr. Cook was also an electrician, wiring many of the homes in Davie County when electricity first became available.

Mrs. Cook was a homemaker, helping raise the 10 children. She enjoyed working in her garden, yard, and her flowers.

They taught their children the value of hard work, trust, and respect for their fellow man. All five of their boys followed in their father’s footsteps, becoming mechanics, owning garages at their homes, working after hours from their mechanical jobs at other businesses and after retirement.

The girls were all homemakers and worked in the textile plants. After working hours, they came home and helped with housework.

Grady L. McClamrock, Sr. Engineering Scholarship

Grady L. McClamrock  Sr. lived a charmed life; often describing his fortunate circumstances as living a “Fairy Tale Life.”

Grady grew up on a farm in Davie County as a country boy who knew nothing of life outside Davie, let alone North Carolina. As a high school senior, Grady was offered a scholarship to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA Tech). He turned it down because he had no idea where Blacksburg, Va. was.

After one year of technical school, Grady went to work for Western Electric as a technician while he built a home and started a family. He took classes through NCSU Extension at night for eight years in pursuit of an engineering degree.

Grady was invited to become part of a group of elite engineers sent by Western Electric to solve problems around the country. They were called the “Promising Engineers” because they would “promise” you whatever you wanted to hear at their Monday morning meetings.

Grady’s group developed the first fully automated assembly lines, developed the technology necessary to go to micro circuitry, and Grady made the first cell phone call ever made. His group developed ideas and secured many patents during his 36-year career.

Grady operated the company “school” for seven years before he retired. He trained the technicians and engineers hired by Western Electric to actually do their job. Later he was asked to develop course outlines and course work for schools in every Western Electric location.

As he reflected on his life, Grady realized how fortunate he was to do all of the things he did. Grady passed away on Aug. 2, 2022. He wanted to be remembered not for his amazing career but for the generosity he showed others and the way he helped young people get a start in their own pursuit of an engineering degree.

To learn more about the foundation, contact Simpson at (336) 753-6903 or jsimpson@daviefoundation.org or visit www.daviefoundation.org.