James M. Deal Jr. ’71 of Boone received the Appalachian State University Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award Oct. 21, 2016. The Distinguished Alumni Award honors graduates who have attained extraordinary career distinction and success, and demonstrated exceptional and sustained leadership in the community.
Deal is an attorney with Deal, Moseley and Smith, LLP who has served the local community as well as Appalachian.
Interviewed in front of Chapell Wilson Hall where he attended high school, he recounts his many memories of the community and why “Appalachian is a part of who I am.”
Jim Deal: I’m standing in front of Chapell Wilson Hall and Chapell Wilson Hall was where I started high school in 1963. This spot is special for me for many reasons. I walked to school, the elementary school was on the other side of Chapell Wilson Hall where the parking garage is now for the library, and I walked to school and I walked back from school. I walked back behind the dorms, going down the street. I grew up on this campus almost. It was just part of my community, it is part of who I am. My experiences here, when I say Appalachian is part of my DNA, it is part of my DNA. It is part of who I’ve been since I was 8 years old. My mother was a graduate of Appalachian, three of her sisters were graduates of Appalachian, two of her brothers were graduates of Appalachain, my sister is a graduate of Appalachian, I met my wife at Appalachian. She is a graduate and she also has her master’s from here. Two of my children are graduates of Appalachian. The opportunity to go here in a community we grew up in at a university that we loved and has provided so many opportunities to us. It’s hard to express what that means. Appalachian provided me with a quality education, prepared me for the next step in my life and I made so many friends who I treasure today. Appalachian is a family. Appalachian has been a family since 1899.
I think the motto that the Dougherty brothers had when they founded this university was to make this area of the state better. I got a quality education at Appalachian. I have an obligation. You know one of my favorite verses in the Bible, I’m going to paraphrase it a little bit, but it says “to those whom that much has been given, much is expected.” Well, when you come to Appalachian, much is given to you and as a result of that much is expected of you. So the blessings I have received from Appalachian far outweigh what little that I have done for Appalachian. I appreciate the opportunity to serve. I appreciate the opportunity to try to enhance the student learning experience and to try and make this a better place for our people to work. I am fortunate enough to work with a lot of people who have done that far more than I ever will or ever have.
It’s hard to describe what the Distinguished Alumni Award means to me. The fact that I received this award this year, I can’t really express very well in words. It’s one of those things that I usually am really good at, talking. I’ve made a living talking. But this is one of those things that when I think about meeting my wife, think about my mother coming to school here, think about six children in her family coming to school here. I think about my grandfather playing cards with Dr. Dougherty. Dan’l Boone Inn was my grandfather’s home, he was a country doctor, and he and Dr. Dougherty were great friends. I am trying to think now what he would say with his grandson standing here on Appalachian’s campus and receiving this award. I think he would be proud of what Appalachian is, proud of what Appalachian has become and I think he would be proud of what Appalachian’s future is. And I’m so blessed and this is just another one of the blessing that I have been fortunate enough to receive.