Gov. Roy Cooper ordered U.S. flags at state facilities in North Carolina to be lowered Tuesday in honor of Gaston County native Graham Bell, who passed away Friday at age 84.
Bell was a five-term member of the North Carolina House beginning in 1973 but may have been best known for the development of the Cramer Mountain Country Club. He and his wife, Gayle, bought the property from Burlington Industries and opened the country club and golf course in 1986.
Bells reportedly spent more than $30 million in opening the Cramerton golf course, less than 15 miles west of Charlotte, according to Cramertongolf.com.
The Cramer Mountain Country Club was a favorite of North Carolina native and NBA great Michael Jordan when his Chicago Bulls were in town to play the Charlotte Hornets. Bell also operated The City Club of Gastonia for several years.
“I’m so sorry to learn of the death of my friend Graham Bell. Graham had a long career of fighting for others who needed help and didn’t have a voice,” said Cooper in a statement. “I’m grateful for his public service and leadership across Gaston County and North Carolina and he will be greatly missed.” Cooper inducted Bell into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine several years ago.
During his legislative career, the Gaston County Democrat was instrumental in the creation of the N.C. Council for Exceptional Children, ensuring funding for the equal education of the less fortunate. Bell remained committed to the importance of public education throughout his life, according to his obituary.
While the Country Club closed its doors in 2010 during the Great Recession, it has since reopened through the efforts of a nonprofit organization created in 2014 by more than 200 residents of the Cramer Mountain community.
Funeral services for Bell were held Tuesday in Gastonia.