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Ex-N.C. Gov. Terry Sanford Dies

April 18, 1998 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Terry Sanford, a North Carolina governor and U.S. senator who twice ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, died Saturday of complications from cancer. He was 80.

Sanford died at his Durham home surrounded by his wife and children, family friend Tom Drew said.

Sanford, president of Duke University for 16 years, made lasting improvements to the state’s education system during his tenure as governor, fellow Democrat Gov. Jim Hunt said Saturday.

``Terry’s spirit of boundless optimism and commitment to excellence for our children and our public schools have changed us forever,″ he said.

``As a college student, I was inspired by his ideas for education and equal opportunity for our people. I plunged into the campaign to elect him governor and, to me, he was the best one ever.″

Sanford, governor from 1961 to 1965, was listed in a 1981 Harvard University study as one of the nation’s 10 best governors this century. He was president of Duke University from 1969 to 1985, during which he made unsuccessful presidential bids in 1972 and 1976.

He was elected to the Senate in 1986, losing his bid for a second term six years later shortly after undergoing heart surgery. His most controversial stand during his term was his opposition to the Gulf War.

Sanford referred to his own presidential candidacy in 1972 as ``more or less an audacious move.″

In his 1972 campaign, Sanford pressed for more government action to promote jobs and a balanced budget. He opposed a national gun control law.

He argued that training and jobs should replace welfare, and opposed court-ordered busing to achieve integration, saying that schools in poor neighborhoods should be improved.

Reflecting on his loss, Sanford said he was simply unable to get credibility.

``They thought nobody from North Carolina and nobody from the South could be president,″ he said. ``I was shot out of the saddle, almost before I swung into it.″

In 1976, the Democratic nomination went to another Southerner, former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

While running for governor in 1960, Sanford became an early supporter of John F. Kennedy’s presidential bid, breaking with the rest of the North Carolina convention delegation. He campaigned hard on the theme of education reform, arguing that a well-trained work force would be essential to luring high-tech jobs.


The 1960 election marked a turning point in a state that had previously elected Democrats by landslides, said Thad Beyle, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sanford won, but far more narrowly, ``because of where he stood on a lot of issues,″ Beyle said.

``He was seen as somebody who was trying to help the blacks out,″ Beyle said. ``And, in fact, a lot of what he did eased the path of desegregation.″

Sanford, the son of a schoolteacher and an oil worker, grew up in Laurinburg and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939.

Sanford served as a special agent for the FBI for two years, then was a paratrooper in World War II. He got a law degree from UNC in 1946.

A stint as assistant director of the Institute of Government at UNC spurred his interest in politics, and he served a term in the state Senate from 1953 to 1955.

He left the governor’s office in 1965 office because state law at the time barred a governor from succeeding himself.

In 1992, Sanford was challenged by businessman and former state Commerce Secretary Lauch Faircloth, who criticized him for his Gulf stance. Faircloth ended up winning, 50 percent to 46 percent.

Sanford later concentrated his efforts on getting a world-class performing arts center built between Raleigh and Durham. Fund raising for the center is still going on.

Survivors include Sanford’s wife of 52 years, Margaret; his son, Terry Sanford Jr.; his daughter, Betsee; two grandchildren and two sisters.