Governor Mike Easley says if there ever were to be a Mr. North Carolina, it would have been Hugh Morton. Morton died Thursday at the age of 85. He was a leader and an environmentalist, a developer and a veteran. Over the course of 85 years Morton had a hand in many of the ways life has changed in North Carolina. Born in Wilmington in 1921, Morton's maternal grandfather was a developer whose companies built Wrightsville Beach and Grandfather Mountain, near Linville in the western mountains. He served as a photographer during World War II. He also encouraged the career of the young actor Andy Griffith, who became one of the state's most famous natives. Morton inherited Grandfather Mountain and made the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains a top tourist attraction. Morton's photographs of North Carolina are some of the state's most famous. Hugh Morton died after a battle with esophageal cancer.
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