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John Stackhouse Distinguished Visiting Professor

John Stackhouse
John Stackhouse

John Stackhouse was born in the small town of Mullins, South Carolina, son of the postmaster. He started working summers at Carolina Power & Light when he was only 15; his first job was washing streetlights for five cents an hour. In the 1930s he worked as a lineman for the company before heading into the Navy to serve in WWII.

Over the years through experience and hard work he started his own construction businesses contracting with electric companies to put up their power lines, creating Stackhouse Incorporated. Linemen, even today, continue to work on the electrical lines crisscrossing the state, rigging power to new construction and bandaging the old. All the while, they are surrounded by electricity. Electrical current can cause many injuries to the workers who help to bring light to the North Carolina community. Burns, in particular, were quite nasty for Stackhouse employees.

Burns were an unfortunate reality during Stackhouse’s long career in the power business. He recalls early on having a hard time finding adequate care for employees who suffered burns. But it was the case of an 18-year-old who was badly burned during a snowstorm that was the final straw. Stackhouse pulled all the strings he could to get the boy the best care available, but he knew most burn victims weren’t that fortunate. “Back then, a seriously burned patient never returned to work or even to productivity for that matter,” Stackhouse said. “Just to return them to the task of living was a continuous struggle.”

Stackhouse set out to improve the quality and accessibility of burn care in North Carolina. He pledged $40,000 of his own money and the board of the Rural Electric Association voted to match it. Stackhouse lobbied other organizations, and many groups that had seen the effects of burns – such as firefighter and electrical organizations – joined the effort.

The groundbreaking for the Burn Center was January 15, 1977, and Stackhouse’s vision came to fruition when the center officially opened on February 23, 1981. The John Stackhouse Distinguished Professorship and lecture series was established with a gift in 1994 from John Stackhouse to provide continued support for the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.