A Legacy of Generosity

2015-11

single tear rolls down George Rountree’s face as he tells the story. The memory is as fresh now is it was the day it happened more than 40 years ago. It was a July evening in 1973. Rountree was serving in the North Carolina State Senate. After a long, exhausting session in Raleigh debating how much money to allocate to education, he made the pre I-40 drive back to Wilmington. It was about 7 p.m. when he pulled into town and stopped to fill up his gas tank. “I went inside to buy a bottle of Orange Crush,” he says. “I opened up my trunk, and put the Orange Crush in a cup with some vodka. The next morning, I got a call from a woman. She said, ‘Mr. Rountree, I want you to know how big an impact that made on my son. He just thought you hung the moon. He saw you do that, and it totally destroyed him.’” Rountree could make excuses. Alcohol laws at the time encour-aged patrons to have their own bottles in a brown bag if they wanted a drink at a restaurant. He didn’t drink to excess. He wouldn’t be driving while impaired. But instead, he owned up. “I said to the woman, you are absolutely correct,” he says. “It was a horrible thing for me to do. I certainly wish I hadn’t done it. Humility is a part of life. But I’ll never forget that. And I never did that again. Ever.” Native son George Rountree III is a highly respected attorney, the senior partner in Rountree Losee LLP, a law firm with an impeccable reputation and 110-year-old roots in the community. He was an all-conference basketball player at the University of Arizona, and is known for his support of basketball programs at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and at the city’s four public high schools. His on-court career and off-court involvement were recognized in May when Rountree received the first lifetime achievement award from the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame. But there’s a less public side to the 82-year-old that arguably has a greater impact, a rare spirit of giving that is impacting untold lives and leaving a legacy of generosity. Rountree and his wife, Sylvia, are involved in a variety of causes, from providing drugs for cancer patients, to contributing to hospice care and cancer research, to endowing scholarships for law students, to donating equipment and supplies to local schools. They give to Communities In Schools, the Miracle League of Wilmington, the Brigade Boys & Girls Club, and Kids Making It. 16 WBM november 2015 Rountree gives to help others, because he recognizes the help he has received over the course of his life. “I think that a lawyer has an obligation to the commu-nity in which he lives to give back,” he says. “Of those who have much, much is expected. That’s biblical, and I learned it from my mother. There’s no such thing as a self-made man. Along the way, there were significant forces that helped mold you into what you are today. Giving back is one of the ways of showing that you understand that.” Wilmington attorney George Rountree gives back to the community in word and deed A Legacy of Generosity By SIMON GONZALEZ Photography by ALLISON POTTER A He warns young people about the three legs on which the stool of failure rests: • I’m entitled to it • Because I’m entitled to it, I want it now, I want instant gratification • If anything goes wrong, it’s not my fault He gives them his four points for success: • Integrity • Discipline • A positive attitude • Surrounding themselves with friends who want them to make it


2015-11
To see the actual publication please follow the link above