For 12 years, David Beal scoffed at the notion he was a worthy nominee for the Greater Mount Airy Hall of Fame.
Beal served on the Hall of Fame committee from 2003-2015, and when his fellow commitee members even mentioned the idea that he deserved a place, Beal turned them away.
However, Beal stepped down from the committee last spring, and doing so effectively clinched his place alongside some of the most influential persons in the history of Mount Airy sports. He could no longer let his humility get in the way, and on Sunday afternoon, Beal will receive the Granite City Award for being a person who made a contribution to the promotion of sports in Mount Airy.
“I just wouldn’t allow it. They would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you know we think you should be in here,’” Beal said. “I don’t know if they knew they would nominate me or give me this award once I retired from the committee, but I guess I can’t fight them on it anymore, so I am eternally grateful.”
As a Lenoir High School and Wake Forest Law School graduate, Beal’s love for Mount Airy sports developed after he moved to the area in 1967. His wife, Faye Beal, is originally from Mount Airy, and it was a perfect match when the State Bureau of Investigation stationed David in the Granite City for his first full-time job out of college.
From there, Beal served time on the Mount Airy Board of Education, sometimes as its chairman, as the Mayor Pro-Tem on the city’s Board of Commissioners, and countless other roles in the public service field.
Aside from his profession, Beal had a passion for sports, and he fell in love with Mount Airy football from the moment he watched his first game at today’s Wallace Shelton Stadium.
“I remember just coming out for a Friday night to watch my neighbor play for the Mount Airy High School team,” Beal said. “That was in November of 1967, and I haven’t missed a Mount Airy home game since then.”
Beal slowly became a fixture at Granite Bear football games, and at a 1976 school board meeting, he volunteered to run the public address system for the 1977 season. At the time, he only planned to hold that position for a year, but today Beal is still the press box manager at Mount Airy High School and is the official voice for the Mount Airy baseball team as well.
While he doesn’t announce the football games anymore, with his son Mike Beal now in charge of the public address, David Beal still has a tremendous amount of responsibility on Friday nights. He does the preliminary meetings with the referees, makes sure the Granite Bears get onto the field for the coin toss, and even works with the marching band so everything can go as smoothly as possible.
But Beal’s impact to Mount Airy sports stretches well beyond the realms of just the MAHS athletic department. He coached three different Little League teams in the late 1970s and raised community awareness and interest in the old minor league baseball team to the south, the Winston-Salem Warthogs.
His proudest accomplishment in the local sports community came shortly after moving to the area. Beal founded the Mount Airy Optimist club in 1969 with the goal to build the city’s first Little League baseball field with lights.
It took three years, but eventually local youth teams had a place to play well into the night on Westlake Drive, where the current American Red Cross building lies.
“You know, that was just something the city needed,” Beal said. “Kids were hustling to get their games in and their practices in before it got dark. That stadium lasted for just 10 years, but it was something I was really proud of because it brought a new breath of possibilities with our Little League Baseball community.”
For more than 40 years, Beal has loved Mount Airy sports and tried to help enhance the community. His love relentlessly continues to grow as he’s developed new passions for cheerleading and volleyball thanks to his granddaughters, Catherine and Maggie.
Maggie will be a sophomore on the junior varsity volleyball team next year, and David Beal already has a copy of her August practice schedule. His time in public service and volunteering to enhance the Mount Airy sports community may be over, but Beal doesn’t plan on letting that stop him from being the biggest Granite Bear fan he can be.
“I’ve learned the game of volleyball and I just can’t wait for that season to get started,” Beal said. “I’m getting older, sure, but I’m still going to be here to support my granddaughters and to support Mount Airy. I’ll be up in that press box every Friday night until I can’t walk up the steps.”
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16