Women's History Trail Franklin NC


Sue Waldroop • 2023 Macon Matriarch


Sue Waldroop was selected as the recipient of the 2023 Macon Matriarch award, presented by the Women’s History Trail, a project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County. The award is presented each March during Women’s History Month and recognizes a woman who has made steady and useful contributions to the community in categories such as education, government, heritage, arts and occupations.

“How fortunate for us as you fit into all these categories, and more,” read the certificate presented to Waldroop during a reception on March 29 at the Macon County Public Library.

Waldroop, who turned 90 just a couple of days after the event, said she was honored to receive the award.

“I have had a great time in my life. I’ve done a lot of things they said I probably shouldn’t do, and I did it anyway,” she said. “I have made some awfully good friends. This is truly quite an honor, I never expected to be standing here today, but I do appreciate all of you coming so very much.”

While working and raising a family, Waldroop earned a degree in social work from Western Carolina University, graduating summa cum laude in 1979. She worked for the Macon County Department of Social Services from 1965 to 1983.


Women's History Trail Macon NC Matriarch Sue Waldroop

She then went to work for the N.C. Services for the Blind covering the five counties of Macon, Clay, Swain, Cherokee and Graham. She had some clients who lived on the Cherokee reservation and only spoke their native language, so she learned to speak some Cherokee.

She retired in 1994 but remained active serving several terms on the Macon County Planning Board, as chairman on the Macon County Board of Elections, and on the Macon County Democratic Party executive committee. She was a member of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County board for many years, serving as secretary part of that time. Even after she rotated off the board, she continued to volunteer at the annual Franklin Area Folk Festival.

When her children were growing up, she served as a Brownie Scout leader and a 4-H leader. Her 4-H group worked at the County Fair each year running the concession stand. She teamed up with Joann Corbin to organize the Pink Ladies volunteer group at Angel Community Hospital. She also served as president of the Friends of the Library during construction of the new library on Siler Road.

Waldroop spoke briefly about the recent controversy surrounding the library. “I just resent what is happening,” she said, recalling all the hard work that went into raising money for the new library. She disagrees with those who want to remove some books from the library’s shelves. “They need to remember Adolf Hitler got his start burning books,” she said. “You don’t take away someone’s background.”

Waldroop told of her great-great-great-uncles who came to the area before it was even a county. She is a descendant of William Morrison, who settled here in 1832, and whose home in Oak Grove is one of the oldest in the county. She shared how she remembered listening to her grandmother tell stories from the Civil War era and what life was like here then.

Former Commissioner Ronnie Beale said he started working for Waldroop’s late husband, Jim, when he was a freshman in high school. He remembers even then Waldroop stressed the importance of history.

“Congratulations, for being a stalwart for many people, not just me, for the young folks and the example you’ve set.” Beale said to Waldroop. “You’re one of my heroes, Sue. I love you and I’m so glad you’re getting this award.”

Beale said we often wait too long to recognize people for what they give to each other and to our community. “When that generation is gone, that’s a way of life gone,” Beale said following the program.

In presenting the award, committee member Susan Ervin said, “Sue was one of my early inspirations in the county,” and recalled working with her as part of the League of Women Voters.

Committee member Mary Polanski said the Women’s History Trail “has recognized not only the importance of lifting up important women in our past but also the significant women of our present times – individuals who have truly had a positive impact on our community and our lives.”