Robert Mauldin passed away last week, and the state has lost one of its stellar business and philanthropic leaders. His contributions to NCCF at the statewide and local affiliate level in Nash County were lauded in 2011, when he received the highest honor NCCF bestows: the Lewis R. Holding Award for Philanthropic Leadership.

Read his obituary to learn more about Mr. Mauldin's impact here. The family invites memorial gifts to a number of causes important to him, including the Futrell-Mauldin Community Fund for Greater Rocky Mount, held by NCCF. Information about making a memorial gift to this fund created in part to honor him can be found online or email Kelly Lee, regional associate or call our main office at 919-828-4387 or 1-800-201-9533.

Below is an article written by Todd Cohen based on his conversation with Mr. Mauldin late last fall, intended to be part of our online history project to commence next month. In light of his passing last week, we thought it timely to post the article now.

Bob Mauldin: a stabilizing force for community

The economy of Rocky Mount and the two eastern North Carolina counties it straddles, Nash and Edgecombe, has taken some tough blows in recent decades.

Over one 10-year period, the region lost 6,000 jobs with the exodus of corporate headquarters for Royal Bank of Canada and Hardee's, and the closing of local textile mills by Burlington Industries.

But the community has rebounded, thanks to philanthropic investment and a culture of “taking care of our own” stimulated by an affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation. "It creates an attitude that allows Rocky Mount to take a hit and come back because you've got people who are willing to give their time and their money to keep the community going and keep it alive," said Bob Mauldin, retired chairman and CEO of Centura Bank, the former bank that provided startup funds for the affiliate now called the Futrell-Mauldin Community Foundation for Greater Rocky Mount.

Rural roots
Mauldin understands the ups and downs of rural North Carolina. Born in China Grove in Rowan County about 30 miles northeast of Charlotte, he grew up with a large extended family.

His father was one of seven children, and his mother was the youngest of 12. The two were part of the migration from small farms to cotton mills as textile companies moved south from New England.

His parents met in the local mill where they both worked, although they continued to grow crops for their own food. "Charity began at home," Mauldin said. "We all attended church regularly. We just grew up with a feeling of giving back."

Banking career
Mauldin studied business administration at UNC-Chapel Hill after a year at NC State University and two plus years in the U.S. Army, which qualified him for the G.I. bill that paid for his education.

After graduating and working at small banks in Charlotte, South Carolina and Virginia, Mauldin was recruited in 1965 to work with a consortium of banks entering the credit-card business. This experience brought Mauldin into contact with Lewis R. Holding, who headed the consortium, was CEO and chairman of First Citizens Bank and founder of NCCF.

The experience eventually landed him the number-two job at Rocky Mount-based Peoples Bank, which later merged with Planters Bank, headed by Dick Futrell. The newly formed company was Centura Bank.

Local philanthropy
In 1988, four years after Mauldin was named president, CEO and chairman of Peoples, Holding was in town to talk about the new North Carolina Community Foundation he was launching to stimulate philanthropic investment in rural communities.

At Holding's invitation, Mauldin agreed to serve on the Foundation's board. And in 1997, when Mauldin retired from Centura, the bank agreed to give $500,000 to start new local community grantmaking fund if the Foundation raised another $500,000.

Launched with that $1 million, the fund was named for Mauldin and Futrell, who had headed Planters Bank and preceded Mauldin as Centura's top executive, retiring in 1993. Mauldin served as president of the local affiliate’s advisory board for 13 years, stepping down in 2010.

The affiliate, which raises about $50,000 a year, mainly through its annual Tar River Food and Wine Festival held every other spring, makes grants totaling about $50,000 a year and has about $1 million in assets. It supports a broad range of local causes, from scholarships to civic organizations, that "enhance the livability of the community," Mauldin said.

Social impact
When Peoples and Planters were competing for local business, they also were partnering with Hardee’s to provide the bulk of philanthropic support for the community. Continuing that social investment has been the mission of the Futrell-Mauldin Community Foundation for Greater Rocky Mount. When Centura was acquired by RBC and later moved its headquarters to Raleigh, for example, the community lost a lot of executive-level jobs filled by people who had contributed money and know-how to local causes. "It would be very difficult to replace the impact of Centura Bank if we did not have this affiliate foundation," said Mauldin, who in 2011 received the Lewis R. Holding Award for Philanthropic Leadership from NCCF.

Many of the affiliate's supporters helped create Carolinas Gateway Partnership, a public-private partnership that focuses on economic development and has helped generate 6,000 jobs to offset those lost by the departure of headquarters offices and mills that had been based in Rocky Mount. "The same people who support the Futrell-Mauldin affiliate are the same people behind the Carolina Gateway Partnership," Mauldin said. "Philanthropy is the community pitching in."

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