CLAYTON — Charles Hermon Beddingfield Jr., the longtime owner of Beddingfield Drug, died June 11 at age 90.
An iconic member of the downtown Clayton business community, Beddingfield was a mentor to those who worked for him at the pharmacy and to those who opened businsesses downtown.
Beddingfield began working at the pharmacy when his father owned the store, and he later became the owner of what is now Clayton’s oldest continuous business. In 1987, two employees, Richard Crowder and Walter Raser, bought the pharmacy from Beddingfield.
“Everything I learned, I learned from him,” Crowder said.
Before buying the drugstore, Crowder had been an employee of Beddingfield Drug for 12 years. He said he grew up going to the pharmacy, where Beddingfield had been his pharmacist since childhood.
The pharmacy was not only a successful business but a progressive one too, Crowder said.
“One thing that attracted me to Beddingfield was that there was no segregation,” he said. “There were all kinds of customers who’d come to the store, and Charles knew all of them by name.”
Jim McLaurin, the longtime owner of McLaurin Funeral Home, also looked up to Beddingfield, his close friend.
When the Clayton Chamber of Commerce was in its infancy, Beddingfield and McLaurin served on its board. One day, the chamber’s secretary called McLaurin to say the business group was out of money.
“Charles said, ‘Me and you will borrow money for the chamber,” McLaurin recalled. The two took out personal loans that allowed the chamber to continue operating.
“I’ve always admired him,” McLaurin said. “It’s going to be a tremendous loss to the town.”
McLaurin said Beddingfield was a family man who maintained a close relationship with his parents, often stopping by their house to visit them. “I don’t think there were many days he missed where he didn’t see them,” McLaurin said.
Joyce Blackley of Blackley’s Printing knew Beddingfield through their downtown businesses.
“He was a mainstay,” Blackley said, describing Beddingfield as someone who invested in Clayton to make the town better.
Friends of Beddingfield say he was always talking about the Carolina Tar Heels. He loved to watch them play basketball.
Beddingfield served two terms as president of the Chamber of Commerce and was its Citizen of the Year in 1978. He also served on the boards of the Raleigh Rescue Mission and Southern National Bank.
Beddingfield graduated from Claybton High School and attended Oak Ridge Military Institute before earning his pharmacy degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1994.
Survivors include his wife, Sarah; a son, Ted Beddingfield; a daughter, Joni Frye; and a sister, Cherrie Baskette.
The family suggests memorial contributions to First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 35, Clayton, N.C. 27520.