James Chris Cammack III, died Friday, June 10, 2016, at home in Wilmington in the arms of his loving wife, Katherine. Chris lived until his last day not allowing his illness to define his life. He was at peace and found joy in the things most important to him.
Chris was born January 5, 1949, while his parents, James C. Cammack Jr. and Emma Julia Wallace (Judy) Cammack, were living in Smithfield. The family moved from Rock Hill, S.C., to Fayetteville in 1957, where Dr. Cammack was the pastor at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. Chris attended Belvedere Elementary School, Westlawn Elementary, Horace Sisk Jr. High School and Fayetteville High School, graduating in 1967.
At Fayetteville High, Chris graduated in the top five percent of his class of 450 students. Chris also excelled as a starring athlete in basketball and baseball. He played point guard for Coach Len Maness and the Bulldogs. In an especially memorable performance, he scored 21 points, including the last two free throws to beat previously undefeated Myers Park 70-69 in the state 4A championship game. Chris also led the Bulldogs’ baseball team in batting average all three years, was MVP in 1966 and 1967, and he was voted most valuable athlete at Fayetteville High School in 1967. Chris was drafted by the Washington Senators his senior year in high school, but chose instead to attend North Carolina State University and play for Coach Sam Esposito on a full baseball scholarship.
Playing baseball at NC State, Chris was first team All ACC all four years, one of only four players in ACC history to achieve this honor. Chris had a team-leading .351 batting average in NC State’s first appearance in the College World Series in 1968. Additionally, Chris was the ACC Baseball Player of the Year in 1968 and runner-up in 1971. Chris holds the NC State single-season record for hitting with a .429 batting average in 1969, and this was accomplished with a wooden bat. In 1971, he received the H.C. Kennett Award as NC State’s most outstanding athlete. He was twice named to the National All America Team. He was selected for Team USA in 1969 and 1970. He competed on Team USA as the starting third baseman and cleanup batter.
Chris was one of two players inducted into the inaugural class of the NC State Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. He was also inducted to the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame in 2007. Chris was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, the Philadelphia Philles and again by the Washington Senators while in college, but chose to graduate from college and pursue a business career.
Chris was drafted into the Army in 1971 and continued in the U.S. Army Reserve through 1978. His business career was just as remarkable as his athletic career. Chris was hired by the Aetna Insurance Company in Charlotte as a casualty claims representative. He went on to become recruiting coordinator for all departments at Aetna in Charlotte, hiring as well as training new employees. Chris then became one of the original members of the newly formed marketing department at the company.
While at Aetna, Chris played on their national championship softball team, and his name even appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for hitting the most home runs in the national slow pitch softball tournament. He returned to Fayetteville in 1984 as a partner in S.W. Tomlinson Insurance Agency. In 1992, he co-founded Carpenter Cammack & Associates, one of the largest independently owned commercial insurance agencies in the state of North Carolina, with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Fayetteville. He and his partner successfully merged their agency with Arthur J. Gallagher & Company in 2007, which established the North Carolina base of the highly regarded global insurance brokerage. He also co-founded Cape Fear Staffing Agency and other successful business ventures.
Chris was a deacon at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, served on the local board of directors for First Citizens Bank, was a long standing member of the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club and served on various other community and civic boards.
Despite all of Chris’s athletic and business accomplishments, he will be remembered most for the way he touched lives and brought out the best in those around him. He had a way of always seeing the best in each person he met and genuinely pulled for the underdog. He was the ultimate team player and loved to shine the spotlight on those around him. He was effervescent and mentored hundreds throughout his lifetime. He cherished his son, Todd, his family and his friends. Chris has left us, but his spirit will endure in the memories of all who knew him.
Chris was preceded in death by his father, James C. Cammack Jr.
He is survived by his wife, Katherine Taylor Cammack of Wilmington; son, Christopher Todd Cammack, and his wife, Elizabeth Landvater Cammack, of Raleigh; mother, Emma Julia Wallace Cammack of Fayetteville; Todd’s mother, Sally Thomason Cammack of Raleigh; and numerous loving nieces and nephews.
A memorial service, overlooking Bradley Creek and the inland waterway, will be at noon Saturday, June 25, at 2509 Shandy Lane, Wilmington, followed by a reception on the lawn. The family will hold a private inurnment in Oleander Memorial Gardens preceding the memorial service.
Memorial gifts may be made to James C. Cammack Institute of Preaching at Campbell University School of Divinity, Campbell University, P.O. Box 4050, Buies Creek, NC, 27506; or the Chris Cammack Baseball Scholarship Program, NC State University, Wolfpack Club, Attention Brandon Cunningham, P.O. Box 37100, Raleigh, NC 27627.
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