UPDATED: Former sheriff McCrary dies

Nov. 29, 2013 @ 04:31 PM

UPDATED 1:40 P.M.

Paul “Jaybird” McCrary, a towering figure in Davidson County politics for decades who was the longest-serving sheriff in the county’s history, died Thursday at the age of 83.
McCrary served 16 years as sheriff before later becoming a state legislator in the N.C. House of Representatives. He retired from politics 13 years ago having never lost an election.
Outside of politics, McCrary was a leader or organizer of a host of community causes, such the annual Davidson County Fair.
Former state senator Cal Cunningham of Lexington said McCrary endeared himself to county residents because of his commitment to people on many levels.
“Our families have been very close for a long time,” Cunningham told The High Point Enterprise. “In losing him, we lose a friend. But Davidson County lost a public servant.”
Former state representative Hugh Holliman of Lexington, who succeeded McCrary in the N.C. General Assembly, said McCrary won elections because people trusted his fairness and judgment.
“He very much was a common-sense sheriff who knew how to treat families — even families of people he had to arrest, he wanted to make sure he did what was right for them,” said Holliman, a former House majority leader when Democrats controlled the General Assembly last decade.
A longtime Lexington Police Department officer, McCrary first was elected sheriff in 1974. After leaving the Sheriff’s Office in 1990, McCrary was elected to the state House two years later and served through 2000.
He was part of the last old guard of Democratic Party political leaders in Davidson County to serve before the county began trending to Republican control late last decade. McCrary also developed a statewide prominence in politics by stumping for Democratic politicians seeking a variety of offices.
His nickname was passed down from his father, John McCrary, who also was known as “Jaybird” and served as a Lexington police officer. McCrary’s funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Lexington.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528

 

Paul "Jaybird" McCrary, a towering figure in Davidson County politics for decades who was the longest-serving sheriff in the county's history, died Thursday at the age of 83.
McCrary served 16 years as sheriff before later becoming a state legislator, serving in the N.C. House of Representatives. He retired from politics 13 years ago.

A longtime Lexington Police Department officer, McCrary first was elected sheriff in 1974. He was part of the last old guard of Democratic Party political leaders in Davidson County to serve before the county began trending to Republican control late last decade.

His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Lexington.