Gerald Johnson said it was rather easy to come up with a top winner when the Charlotte Post Foundation met earlier this year to pick someone for the Luminary – Lifetime Achievement Award.
“There were some really good people under consideration,” said Johnson, publisher of The Charlotte Post. “But Charlie Dannelly’s name really stood out this year.”
Dannelly, who retired late last year after 50 years as an educator and elected official, will receive the foundation’s top honor at its annual Post Best Banquet on Oct. 12 at the Hilton Center City.
The Teacher of the Year award winner will be Lynetta Witherspoon of Westerly Hills Academy.
Johnson said the foundation picks a Lifetime Achievement winner on the basis of public service and personal accomplishments over a long period and said Dannelly fit the bill perfectly.
“That is what his record shows,” Johnson said. “He has served this community in many ways.”
Dannelly, 89, grew up during the Depression in Bishopville, S.C., and earned a Bronze Star in the Korean War as a first lieutenant in the 892nd Airborne Division. He made more than 50 parachute jumps in that conflict.
He came to Charlotte after Korea, earning a bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith University and a master’s from the University of North Carolina. He became a teacher in 1962, working in the pre-integration days as a principal at University Park Elementary and at J.H. Gunn, then a high school.
When the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district was integrated, Dannelly was the first African-American principal at Quail Hollow Junior High, in what was a mostly white school in a suburban part of Charlotte.
He also was principal at Starmount and University Park elementary schools.
Dannelly was elected to the Charlotte City Council in 1977, serving for 12 years. He retired as an educator in 1991 but wasn’t finished with public service. In 1994, Dannelly was elected to the state Senate, where he remained until retiring late last year. He was deputy president pro tem from 2003 to 2012.
Mac Everett, a former banking executive in Charlotte, said Dannelly is “a giant among people who represented Charlotte.” In a statement, Everett said, “He was willing to listen to anybody who had something to say about an issue.”
Dannelly said that of his two careers, he probably enjoyed education more.
Saying he takes pride in “seeing young people come back and thank me for the role I played in their lives,” he added, “They are often attorneys, doctors and teachers. They remind me of things I had forgotten I did.”
He and his wife, Rose, attend Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. They have a grown son.
Witherspoon, the teaching award winner, is a 12-year veteran of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, with a master’s from UNC Charlotte.
In addition, the Post foundation will honor two scholarship winners – Jada Wiggleton-Little, a Berry Academy graduate now at Davidson College; and Julia Whitfield, a Mallard Creek graduate now at UNC Chapel Hill.
Information about the Post Best event is available online at www.thecharlottepost.com or by calling 704-376-0496.