Wolfpack Athletics Benefactor Curtis Dail Passes Away
May 29, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - Curtis Dail, the long-time NC State benefactor whose name adorns multiple athletic facilities on campus, died on Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Garner. He was 85.
In 2002, Curtis and his wife Jacqueline gave $5.2 million, one of the largest single donations in the history of the NC State Student Aid Association, to fund a slew of facility construction, upgrades and renovations.
Among the facilities that bear their names are Doak Field at Dail Park, the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Softball Stadium, the men's and women's soccer stadium, the outdoor tennis facility, the football and basketball practice facilities, the Dail Club at Vaughn Towers and the Dail Plaza between Carter-Finley Stadium and the PNC Arena.
In addition, the couple endowed a softball scholarship and the Sixth Man scholarship for the men's basketball team.
In all, they have given more than $10 million to the school's athletic and academic endeavors, including funding for the Park Alumni Center on Centennial Campus. In 2006, the Dails joined other athletics-related personnel such as Kay Yow, Frank Weedon and Don Shea in being named honorary alumni by the NC State Alumni Association, which has happened only 14 times in the school's 125-year history.
"No athletic program ever had more faithful supporters than Curtis and Jackie Dail," said NC State director of athletics Deborah A. Yow. "As a couple, they have been our most ardent fans of all NC State sports teams. We look forward to Jackie's continued involvement as a valued member of the Wolfpack family and we share her grief in the loss of Curtis, her beloved husband and our dear friend."
The Dails also shared their wealth in funding Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pet adoption center in Garner.
"We enjoy doing what we can to help," Dail said in a 2008 interview.
Curtis McQueen Dail, born in Cumberland County in 1928, did not go to NC State. He declined an athletics scholarship offer at East Carolina in 1952 so he could enlist in the U.S. Army. After four years of service in the famed 101st Airborne Infantry during the Korean War, Dail graduated from a Fayetteville business school. But he always had a soft spot in his heart for the university, thanks in great part to his love of basketball during the days of Hall of Fame basketball coach Everett Case.
During his time as a police officer in Cumberland County and a North Carolina State Trooper during the 1960s, Case often moonlighted as a high school and junior college basketball official and baseball umpire. Dail attended the basketball clinics Case often conducted at Lee Field House at Fort Bragg, and always admired Case's success.
That affinity grew to a life-long devotion after the Dails moved to Garner in 1960, as Curtis Dail began working as an insurance claims manager. He stayed in that business until 1975, when he decided he wanted to work as hard for himself as he was working for the insurance company.
He bought two Hardee's Food System franchises in the area. Eventually, he owned 24 restaurants in the Carolinas, before selling them in 1988. He spent the next quarter century involved in commercial real estate in eastern North Carolina - and giving away much of the money he made as a successful businessman.
"Mr. & Mrs. Dail have been generous and supportive of all of our facilities projects and scholarships over the last decade," said Wolfpack Club Executive Director Bobby Purcell. "They always made it a priority in their lives to help others. They have been very successful themselves, through hard work and diligence and devotion to their careers. They have given back to people who need it, like young people getting scholarships and teams needing facilities.
"Curtis never let his success change who he was: a humble man who gave to his church, to his community and to the school he loved."
Curtis Dail's devotion to the Wolfpack never waned, even as his health failed over the last few years. For years, he and Jackie were in attendance for nearly every home football, basketball and baseball game. He was on hand many times this spring at the baseball park that bears his name to see the coach Elliott Avent's top 10 team and to see the Wolfpack's ACC-champion softball team in action.
"For me, the thing that makes NC State fans so special is their loyalty to the program and the athletes that wear red and white," Avent said. "Nobody epitomized that more than Curtis Dail. He was here all the time, even when he shouldn't have been with his health. He loved being here and seeing every NC State team play, no matter what sport.
"Even when he couldn't be here, he would call and leave me a message or just talk about what was going on. It's sad that he is no longer with us, but now he can be with us at every game, with a little better seat."
The Dail family will have a visitation on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home in Garner, N.C. Funeral services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Garner. Burial will follow at Montlawn Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in Dail's name to First Presbyterian Church of Garner, SPCA of Wake Country, Hospice of Wake County or the Wolfpack Club.