By Larry Penkava
CNHI News Service
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 —
The North Carolina Zoo had a ceremony to name the Sonora Desert Exhibit after Dr. Addison Mangum of Albemarle.
Mangum, who died Feb. 9, 2012, at age 78, had named the zoo as a beneficiary to his estate. It’s believed that the approximately $4 million legacy is the largest donation ever to the park.
Dr. David Jones, executive director of the zoo, said during the ceremony that the Sonora Desert Exhibit was opened in 1993 and dedicated by then-Gov. Jim Hunt. It was soon after that Mangum decided to leave his estate to the zoo, Jones said.
“He was very interested in the horticultural side and there is an enormous Sonora Desert plant collection,” Jones said.
Earl Johnson, chairman of the Zoo Society Board of Directors, said Mangum was born in Gaston County, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and did his residency at Duke Medical Center before embarking on his career at Albemarle.
“Dr. Mangum arranged to leave his estate to the zoo so future generations can enjoy the park,” Johnson said.
“He didn’t want recognition for his bequest. But we’re here to rededicate the Sonora Desert in his honor.”
Two of Mangum’s long-time employees, Vickie Winfrey and Debbie Melton, were on hand for the ceremony. Winfrey was named executrix of the estate. They said that since he was a bachelor and had no children, those in his office became his family.
“He’s been a personal friend,” said Melton, a radiology technician.
“He gave me my first job. He was a very simple man. He enjoyed his last year.”
Winfrey, who went to work for Mangum in the late 1960s, called him “unique, very private.
“The zoo had his heart," she said.
“He said that by his estate going to the zoo, it would provide ... an everlasting gift.”
“He wanted everyone to enjoy (the Zoo),” Melton said.
Mangum was particularly interested in Sonora Desert flowers and had books on the subject, Winfrey said. But despite his focus on desert flora and fauna, she said, “he placed no stipulations on the bequest. The zoo learned his interests before making the decision to rename the Sonora Desert Exhibit.”
The Sonora Desert building now displays a sign calling it the Mangum Sonora Desert. Winfrey assisted Jones in unveiling a plaque out front that says: “The Sonora Desert Exhibit is dedicated in memory of Addison G. Mangum, MD.”
Larry Penkava writes for The Randolph Guide in Asheboro, a sister publication of The Stanly News & Press.