Civil Defense Directors of Raleigh and Wake County

How about a dip into Raleigh-Wake civil defense history? Reader Scott Womack acquired a Raleigh Civil Defense Director badge and asks, who would’ve worn this? Let’s try to answer the question via some News & Observer articles and other sources.

Pre-History – During World War II there were numerous civilian defense initiatives both in Raleigh and around North Carolina. They ranged from blackout drills to volunteer squads of auxiliary firemen and auxiliary policemen.

1950, Sep – Hugh G. Isley was named Civil Defense Director for Raleigh. Volunteer position, it appears. Was there an earlier director? Doesn’t appear so. Was there an earlier city office of civilian defense, during the war? TBD.

1952, Feb – Sheriff Robert Pleasants was appointed county CD director. He appears to have been be the first county director. Source: County minutes.

1952, Sep – Raymond Snow succeeded Isley as CD director for Raleigh. Volunteer position, it appears.

1954, Feb – Col. David Hardee was named Civil Defense coordinator for Wake County. Was the first full-time role for the position in the county. This was a joint city-county role and office. The CD director position in Raleigh was presumably discontinued. The only other paid CD director in the state at the time was in Charlotte.

1956, Jan – CD directors were named in Cary, Wendell, and Knightdale. Previously announced were CD directors in Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Wake Forest, and Zebulon.

1961, May – Col. John Thorne succeeded Hardee as Wake County Director of Civil Defense. He previously held the position of Raleigh and Wake County Training Officer for Civil Defense. He was appointed after Hardee’s retirement.

1972, July – The county civil defense department was referenced as the Raleigh-Wake County Civil Defense Agency in a news story.

1973, Jun – Russell Capps succeeded Thorne as Wake County Director of Civil Defense. The office was also called Raleigh/Wake Civil Preparedness, as named in the 1973 budget document.

By July 1, 1976, the office was called Raleigh/Wake County Emergency Preparedness.

By July 1981, the office was called Wake County Emergency Management.

In 1976, the director’s role was expanded to include leading the newly created Wake County EMS. In/around that time, or within a few years, the director’s role was further expanded to include the role of county fire marshal.

Will update this posting as more information is found.

Source Documents

Available in this Google Drive folder. 

Read More

“Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow: The North Carolina Civil Defense Agency and Fallout Shelters, 1961-1963,” by Frank Arthur Blazich, Jr. – College thesis  

Auxiliary Firemen handbook from 1940s (PDF)

History of Wake County fire service governance (PDF)

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