Former Fairfield Chair CEO J. Harper Beall III passed away on Dec. 13, 2019 at the age of 77. Beall suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease the last seven years of his life and died at home surrounded by family.
Born and raised in Lenoir, NC Beall graduated from Lenior High School and started working summers at Fairfield Chair Company at the age of 16. What began as a summer job sweeping the warehouse, loading lumber and working on the maintenance crew, transitioned into his life’s work and he enjoyed a 40+ year career with the company.
After marrying his high school sweetheart, Brenda Cole, and graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1964, he came back home to Lenoir to work at Fairfield full-time. He worked on the plant floor, was promoted to shipping, and then sales before becoming President in 1984 and Chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2015. He often joked that he literally started at the bottom and worked his way up.
Beall’s greatest achievements were the ones that his family only heard from others. During his years at Fairfield, Beall knew every employee by name. One employee credits Harper for saving his life. The man had recently been diagnosed with diabetes, and Beall, then President of Fairfield and a diabetic himself, gave up his own appointment with a specialist in Hickory so the employee could go and get the help he needed.
A thank you note found in Harper’s files tells the story of a young factory worker who was injured in a diving accident and became a paraplegic. His mother wrote to thank Beall for his financial gifts and for keeping her son on company insurance, “but most of all, for your visits to Bill.”
Beall was a business and community leader who served on the Board of Directors for: Caldwell Memorial Hospital; Caldwell County Hospice; Caldwell County United Way; Caldwell County Halfway House and the Caldwell County Red Cross. He also served on the Board of Directors for CCB Financial Corp. (now SunTrust/Truist Bank), the American Furniture Manufacturing Association and was a member of the UNC Morehead Scholarship Selection Committee.
The family will receive visitors at Cedar Rock Country Club on Monday, Dec. 16 from 7-9 p.m. The funeral will be held at Lenoir Presbyterian at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17. Burial to follow at Belleview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to the Alzheimer’s Association.