William Jesse Kennedy Jr.

A native of Andersonville, Ga., William Jesse Kennedy Jr. (1889-1985), better known as "W.J.," impressed North Carolina Mutual's home office by leading its Savannah district to 500 percent growth between 1916 and 1919. Called up to Durham to fill the role of the deceased John Merrick in 1919, Kennedy Jr. had earned a seat on the Parrish Street firm's board within a year.

Kennedy resided on fashionable Fayetteville Street next to Mutual President C.C. Spaulding. Mutual co-founder Aaron Moore praised Kennedy as "a Moses" for Kennedy's adept leadership through the company's growing pains, due to fast expansion, during the 1920s. Upon Spaulding's death in 1952, Kennedy became the Mutual's president and led the company until retiring in 1959. He remained on the Mutual board for six more years and was an "honorary" member for the rest of his life.

Fayetteville StreetParrish Street