LAURINBURG — North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will swing through Laurinburg next week to speak at a function honoring two of Scotland County’s retired state legislators.
The Scotland County Democratic Party is sponsoring the Nov. 21 banquet as a formal nod to the lengthy political careers of retired state Sen. William R. Purcell and retired state Rep. Douglas Y. Yongue.
A Laurinburg native and graduate of Davidson College and the UNC School of Medicine, Purcell practiced pediatric medicine in Laurinburg for 36 years and founded a still-thriving pediatric clinic. He served as Laurinburg’s mayor for 10 years, stepping down in 1997 when he was appointed to represent District 25 — Scotland, Richmond, Anson, and Stanly counties — in the N.C. Senate.
Purcell was re-elected to the Senate seven times before retiring in 2012. During his tenure there, he chaired and co-chaired numerous committees with a focus on health-related and child protective legislation.
Yongue, a 1955 graduate of Laurinburg High School, holds degrees from East Carolina University and Nova University. He was an assistant principal at Laurinburg High School in its final year and also at Scotland High School when it opened in 1967. He later served as the high school’s principal for two years before becoming an assistant superintendent and superintendent in Maxton and Robeson County schools.
Yongue retired from education in 1993 and served in the N.C. House of Representatives, where he represented constituents in Scotland, Hoke, and Robeson counties, from 1994 to 2010.
As representative Yongue championed a strong public school system including community colleges and universities. In the interest of rural, low-income communities, he was also a proponent of eliminating county-level contributions to the state’s Medicaid costs.
Both Purcell and Yongue were ranked among the top 10 members of their respective houses in legislator effectiveness rankings compiled by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research using input from sitting legislators, lobbyists, and the capital news media.
“These two men represented the interests of all the citizens, Democrat or Republican, and were respected by both colleagues and voters on both sides of the aisles,” said Jan Schmidt, treasurer of the Scotland County Democratic Party. “This dinner is a celebration to show appreciation for these two wonderful men.”
Cooper, the banquet’s keynote speaker, has served as North Carolina Attorney General since 2001, prior to which he was a member of the state Senate. Purcell, who served with Cooper for several years, recalled him as a “really good guy.”
“He was a leader in the Senate when I went in there, and he left to run for attorney general,” said Purcell. “He’s a highly intelligent guy who did a great job in the Senate and I think he’s been a very good attorney general.”
Last month, Cooper announced his bid for the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican Pat McCrory for the office of governor.
The Scotland County Democratic Party event will begin at 7 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the Highlands on Plant Road, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
Seating is limited. Tickets are $35 per person, and a table for 10 may be reserved for $300. For information or reservations, contact Wilson McCall at 910-276-4246 or Jan Schmidt at 910-544-9202.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.