James Leonard Cresimore

January 24, 1928August 11, 2014

James Leonard Cresimore, “Jim”, 86, of Raleigh died Monday, August 11, 2014 at the Rosewood Health Center. Jim was born on January 24th, 1928 in Statesville, NC, to Fred Clayton Cresimore and Cleo Edison Cresimore. He spent his formative years in the foothills of North Carolina greatly influenced by his grandfather who owned a general store in Catawba County where the locals gathered to discuss business, politics and issues of the day. During that time he developed a love for authentic country, bluegrass and gospel music, “not the modern stuff” as he would say later in life. In fact, he auditioned his guitar skills for the renowned Ernest Tubb when he was only 12 years old. The radio broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman Theater in Nashville Tennessee, and church camp meetings of the area instilled in him a lasting love of that special music. Later, his family moved to High Point, NC where he graduated from High Point College, (now High Point University) for which he later became a life Trustee and member of the Executive Committee. Jim served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, at which time he was selected to participate in the founding of psychological warfare at the U.S. Army War College. He was honored to serve his country in such an important effort. He met his future wife of 58 years, Mary Josephine Conrad, on a “blind date” at the Woman’s College of UNC. They married and settled in Jamestown NC where they began their family. When Jim established Associated Brokers Inc. of Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro with three partners, he moved his family to Raleigh, living the remainder of his life there. Jim has been a successful force in business, politics and community involvement. He combined his early love of the country store with modern developments in the food industry to create several successful food enterprises: he was co-founder and Chairman of Associated Brokers, Chairman of Allegiance Brokers, Chairman of the Bunker Hill Corporation and co-founder and Chairman of the Smithfield Companies, Inc. He also served on the advisory boards of American Can Company, Dairyman Inc., Mars International and Nabisco Brands. He was the founding Chairman of the Board of State Bank of Raleigh, and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committees of United Carolina Bank and BB&T. He was twice a national delegate to the GOP Convention, Chairman of the Wake County GOP, national Republican platform committee member and an early developer of the Republican Party in NC. Although a life-long Republican, he forged alliances and friendships with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum, locally and nationally. Always true to his early Baptist roots, Jim placed a high value on service. He was a board member of the Salvation Army of Raleigh, the Food Bank of North Carolina, the Baptist Children’s Home of North Carolina, the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, NC Citizens for Business and Industry and the Raleigh Rotary Club, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow. A leader and a committed member of Ridge Road Baptist Church, he was a deacon, treasurer, and moderator. He also served on the board of Raleigh Community Hospital, now Duke Raleigh. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a Shriner. Among his most challenging but rewarding endeavors, in the early 1980’s Jim was pleased to purchase and restore the historic Mary Elizabeth Hospital which had been significant in the lives of many long time Raleigh residents. Early photographs were used to bring the building to its original state and create a headquarters for the United Way. The adjacent Medical Arts Building became his corporate headquarters. Both buildings were saved and still exist on Old Wake Forest Road near Mordecai House. In his company building, he exhibited the artwork of many local artists, encouraging their talent. It became one of the first corporate art collections in Raleigh, including works by Stephen White, Richard Garrison, Billie Corder, and Charlie Burkhead. Sculptor Paris Alexander has agreed to create a work for Jim’s gravesite in Historic Oakwood Cemetery. Though Jim was busy with many commitments, he was deeply dedicated to family first. He was a man of God, country and family, and lived his life accordingly. He will be truly missed and irreplaceable in the lives of friends and family. They will miss his smile, and many colorful stories and his versions of sayings and quotations. Among his favorite quotations was, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right” - Henry Ford.

He enjoyed a life of world travel with his wife, and was said to be equally at ease at a White House event as he was in a Tarheel county store. The recipient of abundant awards and recognition in his lifetime including the NC Grocer’s Hall of Fame and The Hugh Ashcroft Award, he was listed in Who’s Who in the World, Marquis Publication. And, most recently, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from Governor Pat McCrory, recognizing his many contributions to the state of North Carolina. Jim truly exemplified the state motto, “To be, rather than to seem.” He leaves behind his wife Jo, his children Jimmy (James Conrad), Jennifer Cresimore LeMay and husband John, Joel Clayton and wife Allison, his grandson Jack, and his beloved dog Lil. Recalling the meaningful influence of his grandfather, Jim has cherished his special relationship with grandson Jack (John Conrad) LeMay, imparting life lessons over the last 23 years. He was predeceased by his mother, father and sister, Betty Sue Brown. The family thanks: Dr. Steven Leibowitz, the staff of The Rosewood at the Cypress, and the personal attendants (Leslie, Gerald, Miriam, Lawrence, Caroline, Bibi, Kadiatu, Jane, and Ryan) for their exceptional, loving care of Jim. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Ridge Road Baptist Church, 2011 Ridge Rd, Raleigh NC 27607 (flower fund); or The Baptist Children’s Homes of NC P.O. Box 338, Thomasville, NC 27360. Visitation with the family will be held at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home 300 St. Mary’s Street on Monday, August 18th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Funeral services will be held at Ridge Road Baptist Church on Tuesday, the 19th, at 2:00 pm. There will be an interment at Historic Oakwood Cemetery following the service. After the graveside service the family will gather, privately, at the Carolina Country Club in Jim’s favorite room, the Living Room, for special remembrances of him.


  • Visitation Monday, August 18, 2014
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, August 19, 2014

James Leonard Cresimore

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August 22, 2014

We were so sorry to hear about Jimmy passing away. Although we didn't see your family very much, it was always a special time for us when we could be together. Our love and prayers are extended to each of you during this difficult time.
Joe, Kathy, & Connie

Marie Fleischer

August 21, 2014

Dear Jo,
As I am out-of-town, I only today learned of the death of your husband, Jim. I am sorry for your loss and want
you to know that you will be in my
thoughts and prayers. Please convey
my condolences to your family, especially to Jennifer whom I remember
fondly from our shared time at Duke Integrative Medicine. This note comes
with an abundance of compassion and
loving-kindness to you and yours.

August 20, 2014

Joel, Jennifer, Jimmy, So sorry to read about your fathers' passing. Take care and know everyone is thinking about you and your families.

Carlton Pittman

August 19, 2014

Dear Cresimore Family Love and prayers to you. May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.~
Jane Mwihia

Kelly Ryan

August 19, 2014

Cresimore family, We are so sorry about Jim's passing. He was such a support and friend to our family over the years. We will always remember him fondly. Love and prayers to all of you.

Neal Hunt

August 19, 2014

Jo, Duden and I were very sorry to hear about Jim. He achieved a great deal in his life and I know you are proud of him.

He will be missed!


PS: I'll bet he and Mom and Dad will enjoy discussing Republican politics in heaven.

David Smoot

August 19, 2014

Dear Cresimore family, I am sorry to learn of your loss. I remember fondly many good times with the Cresimore family growing up in Raleigh. Jim was a role model to us all. We will celebrate Jim's life today and remember him with you. Love, David Smoot the Younger and family (Dubai)

Miller Sigmon

August 19, 2014

Jo...I'm so sorry for your loss..I know this is a difficult time but I wanted you to know you were in my prayers..Jim made a difference in Raleigh and North Carolina in so many ways.I always admired you both for all your work for the arts in our state... He will be missed.....

August 19, 2014

Dear Jo - I am so sorry for your loss of Jim. He was so fortunate to have such wonderful care from you, and to be reminded of your special relationship in so many ways until the last moment of his life. What a precious ultimate gift - just as your relationship had been for so many, many years. Ruth Wolever, PhD (Durham, NC)

Caterri Woodrum

August 18, 2014

Jo - I'm so sorry to hear of Jim's passing. Jim had an incredible life and has left a true legacy - an eternal one. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. And know your friends and colleagues at the North Carolina Museum of Art mourn with you over your loss...