Robert Gregg Cherry

55th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1945 to 1949

Date Born: October 17, 1891

Date Died: June 25, 1957

Place Born: York County, SC

Place Buried:
Gaston Memorial Park, Gastonia, NC

Residence: Gastonia, NC

Occupation: Lawyer

Robert Gregg Cherry was born on October 17, 1891 in York County, SC, the son of Chancellor Lafayette Cherry and Hattie (Davis) Cherry, who died when he was an infant. After his father died when he was seven years old, he went to live with his uncle, Henry M. Lineberger, in Gastonia, NC. He attended Trinity College (now Duke University) for his undergraduate degree (1912) and law school (1914), where he was captain of the basketball team.

Robert Gregg Cherry returned to Gastonia, NC to practice law but in 1917, he formed Company A of the 115th Machine Gun Battalion, part of the 39th Division, and recruited men from Gastonia to go overseas and fight in World War I. His unit fought in France and Belgium and was part of the force that cracked the Hindenberg Line. Robert Gregg Cherry became known as the “Iron Major,” (after being promoted from Captain to Major) and continued his service by joining the National Guard at the conclusion of the war.

In 1919, Robert Gregg Cherry was elected Mayor of Gastonia, a position he held until 1923.

On June 28, 1921, Robert Gregg Cherry married Lula Mildred Stafford, daughter of Emory Junius Stafford and Lula Roberta (Lowrey) Stafford of Greensboro, NC; they had no children.

In 1931, Robert Gregg Cherry was first elected as one of two men to represent Gaston County in the NC House of Representatives of the:
- 109th General Assembly that met in 1931
- 110th General Assembly that met in 1933
- 111th General Assembly that met from 1935-1936
- 112th General Assembly that met from 1937-1938 - elected Speaker of the House
- 113th General Assembly that met in 1939

From 1937 to 1940, Robert Gregg Cherry served as Chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee.

In 1941, Robert Gregg Cherry was first elected to represent the NC 26th Senate District (Gaston County) in the NC Senate of the:
- 114th General Assembly that met in 1941
- 115th General Assembly that met in 1943

In the 1944 general election, Robert Gregg Cherry was elected by the people as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served one term from January 4, 1945 to January 5, 1949. Gov. Cherry focused his administration on expanding mental health services and increasing hospital facilities and personnel. Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, NC is named after him. Under Gov. Cherry’s direction, teacher salaries increased, the compulsory age for attendance in public schools was raised, and a four-year medical school at Chapel Hill was constructed.

After his time as the governor, Robert Gregg Cherry went back to practicing law in Gastonia and became a Trustee of both Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

Robert Gregg Cherry died on June 25, 1957, and he was buried in the Gaston Memorial Park in Gastonia, NC.

Robert Gregg Cherry (17 October 1891 – 25 June 1957) was the Democratic governor of the state of North Carolina from 1945 to 1949. A veteran of World War I and former mayor of Gastonia, North Carolina, Cherry inherited an economy facing material and labor shortages as a result of the ongoing Second World War. One of his primary focuses during his term was the improvement of mental health care at state-run facilities. Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina, is named for him.
Even though he was born in South Carolina, Robert Gregg Cherry grew up in Gastonia with his material grandparents after his mother died. He received his A.B. and his law degree from Trinity College (now Duke University) in Durham. In World War I, he served as captain of the Gastonian Company A, One Hundred Fifteenth Machine Gun Battalion, a group he organized. After the war he served as mayor of Gastonia, member of the House of Commons, and ran for Governor in 1944.

When he took office in 1945, he faced wartime problems of shortages of equipment, material, and manpower. Governor Cherry had a primary goal of expanding the facilities at the state-owned mental hospitals. Succeeding in that effort, he also pushed for the establishment of a state medical care program by the North Carolina Good Health Association. As a result of the formation of the association, construction of general hospitals and medical clinics grew. In other areas, he was successful in accomplishing an increase in school expenditures and in adding 4,000 miles of new hard-surfaced roads. Governor Cherry returned to Gastonia after his term in office and practiced law until his death in 1957.

Robert Gregg Cherry, governor of North Carolina, was born in Catawba Junction, SC on October 17, 1891. His education was attained at Gastonia High School, and at Duke University, where he earned both an undergraduate degree and law degree. During World War I, he fought overseas in France, serving as Captain of the Gastonia Company A, 115th Machine Gun Battalion. After his military service, he established a career in politics. In his first political campaign, Cherry was elected to serve as Mayor of Gastonia, a position he held from 1919 to 1923. He also served as a member of the NC House of Representatives from 1931 to 1940; and was Speaker of the House in 1940. From 1937 to 1940 he served as Chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee; and from 1941 to 1943 he served as a member of the NC State Senate. Cherry next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1944 general election. During his tenure, the state’s road system was advanced; educational funding was increased; teacher and state employee salaries were raised; and the state’s mental hospitals were improved. After completing his term, Cherry retired from politics. He continued to stay active in his legal career, as well as serving as a Trustee for the University of North Carolina and Duke University. Robert Gregg Cherry passed away on June 25, 1957, and was buried somewhere in Gastonia, NC.

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