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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Scott, Ralph Henderson

by William S. Powell, 1994; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, June 2023

12 Dec. 1903–2 Apr. 1989

Ralph Henderson Scott, dairyman, political leader, and legislator, was born near Haw River in Alamance County, the son of Robert Walter and Elizabeth Jessie Hughes Scott. His brother, William Kerr Scott, and his nephew, Robert S. Scott, were governors of North Carolina during the years 1949–53 and 1969–73, respectively. A 1924 graduate of North Carolina State College, he owned and was president of Melville Dairy, Inc., a milk distributor in BurlingtonImage of Ralph Henderson Scott, from State University's Agromeck Yearbook, [p.79], published 1924 by Raleigh, N. C. : Student Publication Authority, North Carolina State University. Presented on Internet Archive.

A Democrat, Scott served consecutive terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives between 1951 and 1956 and between 1961 and 1980; serving one term in the senate, he was president pro tem in 1963. He was a member of such committees as Agriculture, Propositions and Grievances, Rules, Higher Education, Finance, Education, and Appropriations. At various times he held a seat on the Advisory Budget Commission and on the North Carolina Department of Human Resources' Council on Developmental Disabilities. In the General Assembly in 1953, Scott introduced the bill that created the State Milk Commission and he was vocal in his opposition to the Speaker Ban bill. He was a member of or served in advisory and official capacities numerous organizations, among which were those concerned with education, citizens with disabilities, agriculture, senior citizens, and health care.

As a relative of two governors, Scott worked effectively between the legislative and executive branches during their incumbency. He played significant behind-the-scenes roles in the resolution of a strike by food workers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and in questions concerning the creation of a medical school at East Carolina University in Greenville. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Elon College and received the North Carolina Award in 1981.

Scott married Hazeleene Tate of Alamance County in 1925, and they were the parents of a daughter, Marian, and two sons, Ralph H., Jr., and William Clevenger. Scott was a Presbyterian and an active member of the Hawfields Church.


Charlotte Observer, 4–5 Apr. 1989.

John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1979 (1981).

Durham Morning Herald, 15 Apr. 1973, 13 Dec. 1975.

Gayle Lane Fitzgerald, Remembering a Champion (1988 [portrait]).

Stephen E. Massengill, Biographical Directory of the General Assembly of North Carolina, 1963–1978, vol. 2 (1979).

North Carolina Award, 1981 (1981).

North Carolina Manual (1971).

Raleigh News and Observer, 8 May 1956, 7 Jan. 1979.

Southern Pines The Pilot, 10 Apr. 1989.

Jean Speck, The Gentleman from Haw River (1990 [portrait]).

Additional Resources:

North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. "North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees." NCDA&CS. (accessed July 15, 2014).

Ohio, State Board of Agriculture. 1912. Annual report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture. Columbus: C. Scott's Steam Press. (accessed July 15, 2014).

Scott, Ralph Henderson. Agromeck 1924. [Raleigh, N. C.: Student Publication Authority, North Carolina State University]. 1924. (accessed July 16, 2014).

Scott, Robert Walter. 1991. Remarks and tribute to Ralph Henderson Scott, Sr. (1903-1989): on the occasion of his induction into North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame. (accessed July 16, 2014).

Vincent, William Murray, 2009. Historic Alamance County: an illustrated history. San Antonio, Tex: Historical Pub. Network. (accessed July 15, 2014).

Image Credits:

Scott, Ralph Henderson. Agromeck 1924. [Raleigh, N. C.: Student Publication Authority, North Carolina State University]. 1924. (accessed July 16, 2014).