Pressley R. Rankin, Jr. ’42

Pressley R. Rankin, Jr. ’42, of Ellerbe, N.C., died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Oct. 9. Born on Dec. 7, 1920, in Mt. Gilead, he was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Pressley Robinson Rankin, Sr. 1906; a sister, Catherine Rankin Scarborough; a son, James Michael Rankin; and a granddaughter, Kristen Lee Rankin. Rankin earned his B.S. degree at Davidson in 1942, and entered the U.S. Army, assigned to the 532nd Ordnance Company, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. He later transferred to and completed Army Specialized Training Program, physician’s medical training. In 1947, he graduated from Bowman Gray School of Medicine with his M.D. degree, interning at Watts Hospital, Durham. Rankin began practicing medicine with his father in Mt. Gilead in 1949. He then entered the U.S. Air Force in 1950, graduating at USAF School of Aviation Medicine in San Antonio, Tex., in 1951. He commanded as captain of the 4th Forward Medical Evacuation Flight as a flight surgeon from 1951-54 in Europe and North Africa. He was discharged from the USAF Reserve in 1972. In 1957, Rankin moved his medical practice to Ellerbe, and practiced there until his retirement in 2001. He was on the medical staff of Montgomery Memorial Hospital, Richmond Memorial Hospital, and Moore Regional Hospital. Unlike present day community practices, Rankin practiced medicine during a time when he made house calls on a daily basis to Montgomery, Moore, and Richmond counties; delivered babies; set broken bones and sutured wounds in his office; diagnosed all types of illnesses; and became a family friend to his patients. Professionally, he served as a medical examiner in Richmond County, and was a board member of the Richmond County Health Department. He was a charter member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and was a 50-year member of the N.C. Medical Society. Rankin served many organizations during his lifetime, including director of United Mills, Mt. Gilead; Mt. Gilead Building and Loan; Mt. Gilead Brick Co.; Bank of Mt. Gilead, United Carolina Bank, and subsequently Southern National Bank; the Town Creek Indian Mound; Land Trust Control of Central N.C.; and N.C. Forestry Association. He was appointed by Governor Hunt to the N.C. Archaeological Advisory Committee and to the Governor’s Waste Management Board. He was a member of the Richmond County Historical Society, serving a two-year term as president; the Richmond County Scottish Heritage Society; and a 33rd degree mason in the Blackmer Lodge in Mt. Gilead. In 1983, Rankin was named N.C. Tree Farmer of the Year. He also received the Richmond County Citizen of the Year Award in 1987, and was a 2006 recipient of an honor award from the Smithsonian Museum of American Indians. Following a lifelong passion for collecting artifacts and enjoying research in the fields of history, archaeology, paleontology, and anthropology, he established a unique legacy in the community of Ellerbe with the founding of the Rankin Museum of American Heritage in 1984. Since then, he has continuously served as a member of the board of directors, participating actively on the board as well as in the daily affairs of the museum. Surviving family members include a son, Pressley Robinson Rankin III (Elaine), 6618 Windyrush Rd., Charlotte, NC 28226-7559; daughters, Rebecca Rankin Camden (Randy) and Susan Rankin Reynolds (Ralph); a daughter-in-law, Amy Hunsucker Rankin Kesler (Mike); four grandchildren, Pressley Robinson Rankin IV, Katherine Rankin Condell (David), Christopher Reynolds (Louella), and Matthew Camden (Lauren); and three great-grandchildren, Kristen Camden, James Reynolds, and Benjamin Reynolds.