Wyatt and Mary Upchurch – Giving Back to Hoke County
When the time came for Sandhills Community College to build a permanent facility in Hoke County, a member of the Board of Trustees and her husband were dedicated to the educational advancement of the county. Mary Upchurch, serving on the Board since 1989, and her husband, Wyatt, wholeheartedly supported new educational opportunities in Hoke County and donated the land needed.
As a young man, Wyatt Upchurch worked for the US Department of Agriculture and was an inspector at the House of Raeford. He became so fascinated with the industry he went on to found Tar Heel Turkey Hatchery, a thriving business that produced eggs and poults. Mr. Upchurch later expanded into commercial hog production and is still active in the business. His hatchery was fairly recently sold to Butterball.
“To raise turkeys back then,” explains Mrs. Upchurch, “you had to have a lot of land. I guess you could say they were all free-range turkeys. Later the industry moved to raising them in houses.”
Mrs. Upchurch explains why she and Mr. Upchurch donated the land. “Dr. Dempsey is a go-getter,” she says. “He kept looking for land in Hoke County. Wyatt and I felt so strongly about our county and the value of education, we gave them the land that the Sandhills Hoke Center now sits on.”
Construction began in 2000 with what would quite appropriately be named Upchurch Hall. Today the Sandhills Hoke Center is a busy place, home to the SandHoke Early College High School and a whole host of Continuing Education classes. Basic Law Enforcement Training, Criminal Justice and other curriculum programs hold classes at the Hoke Center. More and more classes are being offered each year and buildings are being added to meet the growing demand.
“We are very grateful to the Upchurches for helping us provide Hoke County with an important educational resource,” comments President John Dempsey. “Their generosity will make a difference for generations to come.”
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