Three buildings named for city heroes
Community leaders gathered downtown Tuesday to honor two prominent High Pointers who helped guide the city and the black community through the civil rights era and a prominent pediatrician.
Retired physician and community leader Otis E. Tillman Sr. was a man who gave the needy money and stood up for them when they could not. The mental health building at 211 S. Centennial St. bears his name.
“He broke down walls and dared to stand up for justice and equality,” said Skip Alston, former Guilford County Board of Commissioners chairman, who also has been active in the NAACP.
Friends and family members recalled stories of Tillman getting arrested and spending time in jail just for asking for things people take for granted now, like getting service at a restaurant.
Tillman practiced medicine for 45 years. He has served on several trustee boards for several organizations, including the High Point Community Foundation, Piedmont Triad Airport Authority and for 25 years for N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University. He was 1999 High Point Enterprise Citizen of the Year.
“Dr. Tillman has been a mentor for so many people,” said High Point attorney Jim Morgan. “But he was not loved all the time. He stood up for things that were not popular. He stood up for what was right.”
Tillman humbly thanked county officials for the honor and then called on several friends to talk about their shared experiences.
“We came together to make a better community,” said longtime friend Bob Brown, a former city police officer. “We owe you big time.”
The late John W. Langford was a lawyer and community leader when times were tough, said community leader Benjamin Collins.
“He made it possible for there to be black city council members and now a mayor in High Point,” Collins said.
Langford, who played a major part in a ward system revamp in 1986 to better represent minorities, died in 2000. He was a member of a prominent family in Montgomery, Ala.
“Lawyer Langford has left his fingerprints on anything related to civil rights and social change” Collins said. “He effectively changed things for the betterment of all of us so that minorities could participate.”
“He always loved his fellow man,” said John Parks of High Point, a former county commissioner and state probation officer. “He was always determined. He believed in what he was doing.”
The major occupant in the building at 325 E. Russell Ave. that bears the Langford name is the Department of Social Services. The refurbished mill and furniture showroom, also houses register of deeds, tax and elections offices.
The late Dr. Marcus L. Aderholdt Jr., a pediatric physician who also was chief of staff at High Point Memorial Hospital, attended athletic events to treat any injuries that may arise. The department of public health building at 505 E. Green St. bears his name. Aderholdt died in 2011.
“He’d put his arms around us and gave us encouragement,” Morgan recalled. “He was a model for all of us in High Point. He loved the community and he loved every patient as if that patient were part of his family.”
Aderholdt served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in World War II and opened his High Point practice in 1948. In 1964, he was appointed hospital chief of staff.
Representing the family, Carol Harris, Aderholdt’s daughter, read from a thank you note her father wrote for his 90th birthday.
Tradition: Naming buildings is a new tradition for Guilford County. For decades no buildings have had names. There are as many as 70 county buildings and meeting rooms that could qualify for a name.