Elisabeth Hair Obituary
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Elisabeth G. Hair

January 2, 1920 - March 19, 2014
Obituary

Elisabeth G. "Liz" Hair, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, activist and Democrat, died peacefully at her home Wednesday, March 19, 2014. She was 94. Liz Hair was well known to the people of Mecklenburg County as the first woman to chair the Board of County Commissioners and the first woman to chair the Board of Elections. Her commitment to public service, her intellectual curiosity and her unfailing affection for the underdog made her a strong, popular leader and a source of occasional consternation among her male peers. Born in St. Louis, Mrs. Hair inherited her passion for politics and justice from her...
Elisabeth G. "Liz" Hair, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, activist and Democrat, died peacefully at her home Wednesday, March 19, 2014. She was 94. Liz Hair was well known to the people of Mecklenburg County as the first woman to chair the Board of County Commissioners and the first woman to chair the Board of Elections. Her commitment to public service, her intellectual curiosity and her unfailing affection for the underdog made her a strong, popular leader and a source of occasional consternation among her male peers.

Born in St. Louis, Mrs. Hair inherited her passion for politics and justice from her father, John Raeburn Green. From her mother, Elisabeth, she inherited an impeccable sense of style and a love of art and dance, especially ballet. She graduated from John Burroughs School in St. Louis and Wellesley College. She began her varied careers (or "accidental life" as she called it) as a rookie newspaper reporter in Chicago. This may account for the fact that until very recently she read three newspapers every day - Charlotte Observer, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

She married Samuel Cummings Hair in 1949 and moved to Charlotte where they raised four daughters. Her political activities began soon after she arrived when she founded the Mecklenburg County Democratic Women's Club in her living room. She began to focus on the lack of equity in opportunity and wages for women in North Carolina. A founder of the Charlotte Women's Political Caucus, she began to use her experience to help women raise money, run campaigns and become powerful advocates for themselves and for children. A mentor to many successful candidates throughout the years, her heart was in helping women get elected.

The Hairs had six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. "Grammer" was happiest at the beach surrounded by family, building drip castles or jumping the waves. She loved to talk to her grandchildren about their lives and aspirations and was deeply concerned about the world her generation was leaving for these young people. An early advocate for natural gas-powered vehicles, she was among the first Charlotteans to get on the waiting list for a Prius. She demonstrated against coal-fired electric plants and strongly supported the Clean Air Coalition. Her support of the environment encompassed preservation of green space in the county. While serving on the County Commission in the late 70's, she described the future greenway system as "a beautiful emerald necklace around Charlotte." In 2005 she was honored by the county and Partners for Parks with The Liz Hair Nature Trail, a section of the greenway named for her.

Her interest and influence extended into arts and education as well. She helped establish NC Ballet Theater in Charlotte when it moved from Winston-Salem and chaired its board of directors, raising funds and community support for the nationally-acclaimed dance troupe. As a county commissioner, she was instrumental in establishing Spirit Square Arts Center, a beacon of arts and culture in downtown Charlotte. She believed in excellence in education for every child and served on the NC Community College Board for two terms.

She is survived by her daughters and their husbands: Cammy Bain and Roy of Wilmington, Stephanie "Pepper" Hair and John Divine of Charlotte, Elisabeth and James DeMarse of Manhattan and Julie Hair and Richard Hutchins of Brooklyn; six grandchildren, John Divine, Elisabeth Mulligan and husband Patrick, James Bain and wife Cristi, Sam Bain, Kathleen DeMarse and Daniel DeMarse; six great-grandchildren; and her beloved dog, Oliver.

The family would like to express their gratitude to her devoted caregivers, Tamara Ulloa, Marcia Ledesma, Sheila Daniels, Angela Hunter, and Lorine Duncan. Special thanks also to Anita Shahdad and Bob McGrath for their never failing willingness to help. The family also thanks Hospice & Palliative Care, Charlotte Region, for their care and concern during her final days.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, March 22nd, at Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Crisis Assistance Ministry; Southern Environmental Law Center; or a charity of your choice.

"Working for Liz for the past 15 years has been an honor. I will miss her stories and her insight. She was a remarkable woman. Mecklenburg County was..." Anita Shahdad (Charlotte, NC)

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