By Dave Leestma
As The Mountain Breeze celebrates its 30th anniversary year serving the greater Lake Lure area, we are recognizing local history makers for each of our 2017 Breeze editions. Jim Proctor certainly qualifies as one. Here is his story, a short version for sure!
It’s no wonder Jim Proctor loves Lake Lure. Jim’s first home was 408 Boys Camp Road here in Lake Lure. His Father was a truck driver and his mother was a math teacher at the Lake Lure School. His grandparents, Jim and Tootsie Washburn, lived nearby in a home they bought in 1946. His grandparent’s home was an old stage coach stop built by the Harris family in the late 1700s. Jim’s great great great grandfather, Judge GW Logan bought the inn in 1869 and added the third floor. In 1947 Jim and Tootsie started renting vacation cabins. They called their business ‘Pine Gables’.
In 1961 Rutherford County shut down the Lake Lure School and Jim’s parents moved away. Even though Jim lived away from Lake Lure he was able to go there every summer. He has been in Lake Lure for every Christmas and only missed one Easter Sunrise Service at Chimney Rock.
In the summer of 1972, Jim started working for his grandmother, Tootsie Washburn. Since then Jim has spent many thousands of hours helping maintain the family’s historic property and business.
Jim’s family was always active in their community and giving back to your community was a highly prized endeavor. Starting with Boys Scouts and his church Jim has volunteered with numerous nonprofit groups. These included volunteer fire fighter both at Lake Lure and Warren Wilson College. Jim designed and built a solar water heater for a Christian boarding school in Nepal. Jim was trained by the North Carolina Forest Service to be a forest fire fighter. From 1975 to 1979 Jim put in more than two hundred hours fighting forest fires.
In 1987 Jim and his wife had a son, Austin, and, in 1989 a daughter, Kathryn. Jim and his new family moved to Asheville in 1989 and soon thereafter Jim created and ran a specialty toy store, Dancing Bear Toys, Ltd. The first store location was in Biltmore Village. Because of Jim’s business and his love for history, Jim was appointed to the Historic Biltmore Village Development Plan Steering Committee. Dancing Bear was fun and successful, but in 1993 Jim decided to move back to Lake Lure. He was now permanently back where he most wanted to be. Jim went back to full time real estate and maintenance of Pine Gables.
In 1996 Jim married Robin Pursell. After the successful application to put Pine Gables on the National Historic Registry, Jim and Robin renovated the old inn. Since then Jim and Robin have continued to maintain and improve the family property.
In 1999, Jim decided to run for mayor of Lake Lure. He was successful and after five elections was mayor for ten years. From 1999 to 2009 Lake Lure saw a dramatic increase in development. Town Manager, Chuck Place, and Jim were able to convince the town council to complete its first Comprehensive Plan. The town was also able to create The Lake Lure Marine Commission.
Even before Jim was mayor he had worked closely with local and state conservation organizations to help them buy and conserve many thousands of acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge. These efforts later became the catalyst for the Chimney Rock State Park.
Jim had always wanted Rutherford County to rebuild a school in Lake Lure. After many years of lobbying the Rutherford County Board of Education to at least build a school near Lake Lure, it was clear there would never be a traditional public school here. Luckily, Bill Frickburg introduced local leaders to Joe Mamonie at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy on the other side of our county. The foundation was then set for the creation of the new Lake Lure Classical Academy – CFA. At the ground breaking for the new school, you could tell by the tears on his face Jim was delighted to see Lake Lure finally had a school.
In closing, Jim says “I live in paradise with the people I love. What more could a person ask for?”
Editor’ note: Not mentioned here is Jim’s passion for rock climbing, mountaineering, biking, photography, music and history. For more about Jim’s story, go to www.mountainbreezenews.com and ask for Breeze writer, Joselyn Watkins’ article, “He Climbs Mountains” in the 2010 May/June Breeze edition.