Betty Ray McCain
Betty Ray McCain is from the small North Carolina town of Faison, but she knows the state well, and many people across North Carolina know her well from her numerous statewide roles.
Betty Ray is the new chair of the UNC Lineberger Board of Visitors, after serving a two-year term as vice chair. She brings a wealth of experience to the position, including 14 years of service on the UNC Board of Governors, eight years as N.C. Secretary of Cultural Resources, chair of the N.C. Democratic Party, service on the N.C. Legislature Advisory Budget Commission and many other boards and groups.
She knows what it's like to lose family members to cancer. “My mother was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer for which there were no effective treatments at that time,” she says. “I lost my husband in 2005 to pancreatic cancer. At that time he did not qualify for the clinical studies available.” Her late husband, John, was a beloved internist. They moved to Wilson in 1956 and resided there ever since.
"That's why I want to support new developments in treatment so that someone does not have to go through what my family went through," she explains. "Cancer research is critical so that we can better understand these diseases and create new therapies."
People who know her always look forward to her public speaking because of her wonderful humor and wit. “People in my family laugh a lot,” she says. “My daddy was really funny, and his deadpan humor has passed along now to my grandchildren.” Of growing up in tiny Faison, she says, "My mother used to say, 'if nobody knows the trouble you've seen, you were not raised in Faison.'"
Betty Ray attended St. Mary's in Raleigh, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and earned her master's degree in music from Columbia University Teacher's College. She returned to UNC to work at the Campus Y, and created and led medical students' and nurses' choirs, where she met her future husband.
"I've watched UNC Lineberger grow since its beginning," says Betty Ray. "The growth and the progress are phenomenal. As Board chair, I want to get the word out to the state about all that's happening at UNC Lineberger. The new N.C. Cancer Hospital is a remarkable gift from and for the people of North Carolina. We want everyone to know about this marvelous new facility and how the expanded programs and telemedicine can serve them."
Immediate past chair Edwina Woodbury of Chapel Hill describes Betty Ray by saying, "When Betty Ray believes in something, she works tirelessly on its behalf - and she gets results. Walking the halls of the legislative buildings in Raleigh with her is as close to touring with a rock star as I'll ever get. UNC Lineberger is tremendously blessed to have Betty Ray leading our Board of Visitors, especially at this critical time. Her passion is contagious."