Timeline

1931: Betty Ray is born in Faison, North Carolina, to Horace and Mary Perret Ray.  

1947: Betty Ray graduates from Faison High School. She completes high school one year early and is valedictorian of her class.

1947: Betty Ray attends St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, which, at the time, is a two-year college.

1949: Having completed the St. Mary’s program in May, Betty Ray attends UNC-Chapel Hill to complete her college education.

1950: Frank Porter Graham loses Senatorial democratic primary race to Willis Smith and his campaign manager, Jesse Helms.

1952: Betty Ray graduates from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Music.

1952: Betty Ray attends Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

1953: Betty Ray receives a Master of Arts degree in Music from Columbia University. She returns to North Carolina to work at the University of North Carolina.

1952, 1954: Betty Ray works as a courier for Educational Travel Associates.

1953-1955: Betty Ray serves as Assistant Director of the YWCA at UNC-Chapel Hill.

1955: Betty Ray marries Dr. John L. McCain, a physician.  

1955-1956: Betty Ray McCain serves as Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, at the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond (while Dr. McCain works as a resident in internal medicine there).

1956: The McCains move to Wilson, NC.

1956: The McCains’ first child, Paul Pressly McCain III, is born.

1958: Their second child, Mary Eloise McCain, is born. 

1960: Mrs. McCain works as a volunteer for Terry Sanford’s successful gubernatorial campaign.

1965: Mrs. McCain becomes Wilson, NC’s Democratic Precinct Chair.

1968-1969: Mrs. McCain serves as president of the North Carolina Medical Association Auxiliary.

1971: Mrs. McCain becomes a member of the Democratic Party’s executive committee, a position she continues to hold today.

1972: Mrs. McCain becomes the North Carolina Democratic Party’s first vice chair.

1976: Mrs. McCain becomes state Democratic Party chair.

1976: Mrs. McCain serves as co-chairman of Jim Hunt’s successful gubernatorial campaign.

1977: The NC House of Representatives votes to ratify ERA, 61-65.

1980: Mrs. McCain co-chairs Jim Hunt’s successful reelection gubernatorial campaign.

1982: Governor Hunt asks Mrs. McCain to serve as his full-time personal lobbyist for ERA ratification. The bill fails to win ratification in the North Carolina Senate.

1983-1984: Mrs. McCain serves as Governor Hunt’s campaign manager to win the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Jesse Helms. The campaign is the most expensive non-presidential race to date. Senator Helms prevails.

1987: Mrs. McCain is elected to the UNC Board of Governors. 

1989: Mrs. McCain co-chairs, along with Martha McKay, the Pine Needles Network, a political action committee to recruit and promote young women as candidates for state office.

1989: Mrs. McCain declines an invitation to run against Senator Helms in the 1990 congressional election.

1990: Mrs. McCain loses a close race for the Wilson County seat in North Carolina House of Representatives after Republicans actively fundraise for her opponent.

1991: Mrs. McCain wins reelection to the UNC Board of Governors.

1992: Jim Hunt is elected to an unprecedented third term as North Carolina Governor.

1993: Jim Hunt appoints Mrs. McCain to Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources. 

1994: NC Museum of History opens.  Mrs. McCain had served as a leader of the NC Museum of History Associates (as well as other cultural groups, such as the NC Symphony Society and the NC Arts Society

1994: After Governor Hunt announces a multi-front alliance with Israel, Mrs. McCain launches an effort to make cultural exchange a prominent part of the program.

1996: Mrs. McCain receives the North Caroliniana Award.

1996: Governor Hunt wins reelection for a fourth term.  He reappoints Mrs. McCain as his Secretary of Cultural Resources.

1999: Park in Roper, NC, opens.  One of the elements of that park is now the Betty McCain Amphitheater.

2000: In a tight budget year, McCain secures $250,000 for the continuation of the excavation of a shipwreck that many believe is the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard's ship.

2000: Mike Easley elected Governor of North Carolina. Beverly Perdue is elected Lieutenant Governor.

2001: Mrs. McCain leaves her cabinet post as Secretary of Cultural Resources.

2001: Mrs. McCain receives the Design Guild Award, NC State College of Design.

2005: Mrs. McCain’s husband, Dr. John L. McCain, dies, “surrounded by his beloved family.”

2009: Mrs. McCain receives the North Caroliniana Award and the North Carolina Award for Public Service.

2010: Betty Ray McCain continues to work for the state on both UNC-TV's Board of Trustees and the Board of Visitors of the Lineberry Cancer Center in Chapel Hill.