James Charles ‘Jim’ High: Whiteville

1933 – 2019

     James Charles “Jim” High, long-time publisher of The News Reporter in Whiteville, died Wednesday, Jan. 2 at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte after a brief illness. He was 85.

     He died peacefully while surrounded by his family over Christmas and New Year’s. He remained mentally sharp and was engaged at The News Reporter, where he worked regular hours and maintained an open door policy, until just four weeks before his death.

     He was born Jan. 27, 1933, the son of Lonnie Haynes “Boy” High Jr., and Ferrell Moore High. He attended Hallsboro High School and graduated from Bob Jones Academy in Greenville, South Carolina.

     He attended N.C. State for two years, enlisted in the Army for two years, then graduated with a BS in Business from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1959.

     The News Reporter became one of the most respected community newspapers in the state under his guidance. He had worked for only a few weeks at the newspaper when his father-in-law and publisher, Leslie S. Thompson, died suddenly, thrusting the 25-year-old into the role of general manager and publisher.

     Generous, kind, determined, selfless, humble, wise counselor, and gentle giant are some of the words often used to describe Jim. He was a nice man and never said a harsh word about anyone. He was happiest when he made others happy.

     During the course of his life, he very quietly helped a number of young people succeed and was a father figure to many.

     It’s unknown how many local kids he helped attend college or how often he provided spending money for those who needed it to get ahead in life.

     He was heavily involved in the Columbus County Committee of 100 and Greater Whiteville Chamber of Commerce. He and a handful of other business leaders were instrumental in bringing jobs to the county.

     He was also a philanthropist, cheerfully giving money to good causes, large and small.

     He was a supporter of Southeastern Community College and the longest-serving member of the SCC Foundation board of directors – 50 years. He was a past president of The North Carolina Press Association and board of directors of The UNC School of Journalism Foundation. He served on the board of directors of United Carolina Bank, the North Carolina board of BB&T, and the board of trustees at Methodist University.

     Perhaps above all, Jim High was a devoted family man.

     He was blessed to have two blended families that he loved dearly.

     He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Thompson High, in 1958.

     Carolyn, who along with Jim was immersed in local causes, suffered an untimely death after a brief battle with cancer in 1985 at the age of 50. They were married for 27 years.

     He later married Sally McKenzie Page, who had lost her husband Pete in a tragic accident.

     Together, they travelled extensively and enjoyed symphonic and operatic performances. They were married 32 years.

     He is survived by his wife, Sarah McKenzie High of Lake Waccamaw; his son, Leslie Thompson High and wife, Becky, of Whiteville; his daughter, Stuart High Rogers and husband, Keith, of Lake Waccamaw; Sarah High’s son, Paul Milton Page of Birmingham, Alabama; and her daughter, Sarah Page Shifflet and husband, Allen, of Charlotte.

     Grandchildren include Carolyn Nix High of Austin, Texas, Margaret Stuart High of Whiteville, Elizabeth Haynes Nance and Parker Thayer Nance, both of Charlotte, Paul Royer Shifflet of Boston and Anna McKenzie Grieg and husband, Robert, of Brooklyn, New York.

     Memorials may be made to the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Whiteville, 415 S. Madison St., Whiteville, N.C. 28472; the Jim High Memorial Fund, Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center, 206 Warrior Trail, Whiteville, N.C. 28472 and the Jim High Memorial Scholarship Fund at the SCC Foundation, P.O. Box 151, Whiteville, N.C. 28472.

     A memorial service was planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Whiteville United Methodist Church, with a reception to follow in the church fellowship hall.

     A guest register is available here.