BUIES CREEK - As a student at Campbell Junior College in the late 1920s, Blanton Hartness made an impact in Buies Creek.
As an alumnus, he left a legacy.
That legacy was celebrated Sept. 18 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated Blanton & Mamie Hartness Lecture Hall in the Science Building. Representing the couple (Blanton died in 1995 and Mamie in 1975) were three of their children - William Blanton Hartness, Al Hartness and Crystal Leathers - their spouses and Blanton’s 89-year-old brother, John.
“Blanton loved this school,” said Dr. John Hartness, the sole remaining survivor of 11 children. “It was always a tremendous part of his life. Not only the school, but the people, too. He loved the people here.”
Hartness Lecture Hall is considered one of the most versatile and most used classrooms on campus. Its renovations are part of an effort to modernize the entire Science Building, built in 1961.
“This classroom has met the needs of this University ever since this building was built,” said Jim Roberts, Vice President for Business and Treasurer. “It’s been so well used, we simply had to renovate it.”
Aesthetic and comfort improvements include new (wider) seating, fresh paint on the walls, better heating and air conditioning and new lighting to knock the glare off of student laptop screens. Improved technology includes a revamped control room and high-definition projectors and screens.
Wesley Rich, assistant dean for administration for the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, spoke about the history of the 51-year-old lecture hall, calling it the “hub of activity” for the pharmacy school since it began 25 years ago.
“Every student who has sat in this room has had a special experience,” said Rich, also a Campbell alumnus. “This room has allowed us to forge friendships and relationships that have defined us personally and professionally for decades.”
Over the years, Rich said, Hartness Lecture Hall has been used not only for classrooms, but for faculty meetings, after-hour study gatherings, club meetings and even a bachelor and bachelorette auction when he was a student.
“We tracked the renovations over the summer on our Facebook page,” Rich said, “and it drew responses from alumni who haven’t been here in decades.
“Of the PharmD students who are married,” he added, “at least 20 percent of them told us they met their significant other at the pharmacy school. Many of them met in this classroom during orientation. There’s a magic to this room.”
Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2016 President Vicky Lancaster attested to the room’s magic by sharing that she’d met her best friend in Hartness and in turn, was introduced to the man she’s been dating for the past four years.
“There are 108 students in our class this year,” she said. “I’ve already gotten to know them and have built relationships with them. Those friendships will remain for the rest of our time at Campbell and beyond.”
Several stories were shared about the lives of Blanton and Mamie Hartness. Blanton will forever be a part of Campbell lore for owning the first automobile on campus, a Model A Ford, in 1927.
His brother recalled that car during the ceremony.
“That car would normally run 30-35 mph, but he took it all to pieces, rebuilt it and balanced it like they would a racing car, and he made that thing to where it could get to Sanford from Buies Creek in 20 to 25 minutes,” he said with a laugh. “I bet it could probably get up to 65 mph on those dirt roads.”
John Hartness called his brother a “mechanical genius, capable of doing anything with his hands.”
Blanton Hartness graduated from Campbell Junior College in 1928 and would go on to own Sanford Milling Company Inc. in Sanford and eventually in Henderson after a fire destroyed the facility in Sanford in the mid-1940s. His family produced the popular Snowflake and Hartness Choice flour brands used in kitchens throughout the state for years. The company, now in its fourth generation, is still going strong today.
Story and photo by Billy Liggett
Photo: The Hartness family (from left, Shirley Hartness, W.B. Hartness, Dr. John Hartness, Dr. Alvin Hartness, Crystal Hartness Leathers and Dr. Bill Leathers) cut the ribbon at the newly renovated Blanton & Mamie Hartness Lecture Hall on Sept. 18.