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Dalton Proctor, former State 4-H Leader, National 4-H Hall of Fame member, has died

Dr. Dalton R. Proctor, a 4-H’er from the age of 10 who grew to become the State 4-H Leader and be inducted into the organization’s National Hall of Fame, has died. Proctor, 80, of Cary and Atlantic Beach, passed away June 30. A native of Wilson County, he was the son of the late Jesse and Pauline Proctor of Saratoga, where he grew up on the small family farm.

Active in 4-H from childhood, Proctor held several leadership positions in the organization, culminating in his tenure as State Program Leader from 1984 until his retirement in 1995. In April 2011, 4-H honored Proctor with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

As State Program Leader, Proctor shaped a North Carolina 4-H curriculum model called Cooperative Curriculum Systems that was adopted throughout the Southeast. He was instrumental in the development of the Eastern 4-H Environmental Center, and he expanded 4-H international programs, including the International 4-H Youth Exchange and programs with Costa Rica and Japan.

“Dalton Proctor is the embodiment of all that 4-H stands for,” said Dr. Marshall Stewart, former 4-H State Program Leader, when Proctor was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in 2010. “He dedicated his life to the organization and raised it to new levels through effective and compassionate leadership.”

Proctor also was an active fundraiser for the organization. Under his leadership, North Carolina 4-H brought in the largest one-day non-corporate gift in the National Campaign for 4-H. Proctor oversaw creation of the annual 4-H gala, which has raised more than $1.7 million for North Carolina 4-H programs. He and his wife also established the Dalton and Ruby Proctor Endowment and are National 4-H Heritage Club charter members.

In 1984, Proctor received the Outstanding Extension Leadership Award from North Carolina Cooperative Extension, and, in 1988, he won the Chief Engineer Award from the National 4-H Council. A U.S. Army veteran who retired as a lieutenant colonel after 28 years of service, Proctor received the U.S. Air Force American Spirit Award in 1987 from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, as well as the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 1995.

Proctor earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1956 and a master’s degree in adult education in 1969, both from N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and a doctoral degree in education in 1974 from Virginia Tech.

He was quite active as a CALS student, serving as president of the Animal Science Club and the AG Club, and he was a member of the AGR fraternity. He was a Wolfpack Club member from his college days and was an avid Wolfpacker. In 1984 he was named as “Tar Heel of the Week” by the Raleigh News and Observer. Although he was proud to receive such a distinguished honor, he often quipped that, as a die-hard Wolfpack fan, he could never quite resolve being referred to as a “Tar Heel.”

At the National 4-H Hall of Fame ceremony in 2010, Proctor said that receiving the award was “the highlight of my career … the ultimate recognition.”

He is survived by his wife, Ruby; his daughter, Pam Hatton, of Plainwell, Mich., and her husband, Capt. Len Hatton; his son, Anthony, of Charlotte and his wife, Sheila; grandson, Jesse; step-granddaughter, Briannan; and the countless children he mentored during his career in 4-H.

Contributions in his honor can be made to the Dalton Proctor Scholarship Fund, 634 Henderson Street, Mount Olive College, 28365, or to the Dalton Proctor Scholarship Fund, 4-H Youth Development, Box 7606, N.C. State University, Raleigh, 27695. – T. Leith