2007. Boardman retired as assistant director of
libraries at the Public Library of Charlotte and
Mecklenburg County. In her 33 years with the
library, she oversaw the design and opening of
17 branches. The library system established a
leadership award in her name at her retire-
ment. Early in her career, she was a reference
librarian at UNC, Duke University and
Queens University. Bettie Louise Nelson
(’ 73 MSPH, ’ 83 DRPH), 58, of Richmond,
Va.; Oct. 18, 2007. Nelson was an employee of
Philip Morris USA.
’ 74 Jane Inman Allen (’ 74 ABEd) of
West Columbia, S.C., has been
selected as District Teacher of the
Year for the Lexington, S.C., School District
Two. Allen is an eighth-grade math teacher at
Northside Middle School. Joseph T. Cox
FREDERICK JOHNSTON HOUK JR. ’ 73 1951–2007
Coffee Served His Taste for Taking Action in memoriam
His credo was doing well by doing good, an coffee brand just for Pop’s. “Fred could develop cotting students would be decid-approach to life that went with him from a blend and tweak it until you were happy. ed. Faculty voted to give the students
his college protest days to the founding of an Everything was personal,” she said. Counter involved in the anti-war movement “the
environmentally friendly coffee company. Culture went on to develop specialized maximum latitude in completing and fulfilling
Fred Houk Jr. ’ 73, who also earned his law brands for many high-end restaurants. “He course requirements.” “That’s when I truly fell
degree from UNC in 1981, died Sept. 23, was the best,” Radzwiller said. “He was so in love with the University, listening to that
2007, at his home on Terrell’s kind, genuine, soft-spoken.” faculty meeting when they voted to allow us
Mountain near Pittsboro. Houk carried his commit- to pursue our conscience. The Honor Code
Houk’s credo “absolutely ment to protecting migrating and students governing themselves really
came from his heart,” said his birds and helping coffee growers meant something. That was a real epiphany
wife,Virginia Stewart Houk ’ 74 beyond his company. He served for me,” Houk said in the Review article.
GAA FILES/COURTESY OF FRED HOUK JR.
(’ 84 MSPH). She said her hus- on the environment committee He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the
band had seen the fruits of his of the Specialty Coffee Honors Program. He turned his senior thesis,
activism during college, so the Association of America and examining a rumored conspiracy about mili-move to protect the environ- assisted the Smithsonian tary activities in Vietnam, into a major article
ment was natural. Migratory Bird Center and the in Rolling Stone magazine. However, getting
Houk was co-founder of National Fish and Wildlife through UNC was not easy financially.
Counter Culture Coffee, along Foundation. Although he had family ties to UNC and
with Bret Smith ’ 94 (MBA). About the time he graduated North Carolina — David Lowry Swain, UNC
Fred Houk Jr. ’ 73 helped coffee
The company, started in 1995, growers protect the environment. from law school, Houk was graduate, former governor and UNC presi-is now the largest specialty diagnosed at UNC Hospitals dent, and Joel Lane, donor of the land for the
coffee roaster in North Carolina. The compa- with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel capital in Raleigh, were both ancestors — he
ny’s philosophy was to protect the environ- ailment that can be controlled but is chroni- had enrolled from Florida, and out-of-state
ment while producing high-quality coffee. cally hindering. He was out of work for tuition got the better of him in his sophomore
Houk, long a birder, discovered that migrato- almost two years; in later years, severe arthri- year. He dropped out of school, drove a bull-ry songbirds were decreasing in number in tis, a typical complication, limited his activi- dozer and a Chapel Hill Transit bus, among
the rain forests, in part because coffee planta- ties. Houk sold his part of the coffee compa- other jobs, and earned his in-state residency.
tion owners were cutting down the trees ny to Smith in 2001, but he continued to be An outcome of his bus-driving days was
where the birds nested. But the older way of available — at no cost — to anyone who his concern for bus service for the physically
raising coffee in the shade produced richer needed advice about coffee or the related handicapped and elderly. He was instrumental
coffee beans while protecting the environ- environmental concerns, said his wife. in developing the town’s EZ Rider program,
ment, Houk believed. The company worked Taking a stand for his beliefs was nothing which provides lift-equipped vehicles and
with the farmers in South America and Central new to Houk. His freshman year at UNC the free service for those who need it.
America so the beans for Counter Culture shooting deaths of war-protesting students at Houk’s concern for the environment and
Coffee were grown on shaded acreage, thus Kent State in Ohio occurred. That same love of birds is said to have begun during his
providing the songbirds with safe habitat — spring of 1970 the first Earth Day was years as a Boy Scout. His wife said she doesn’t
and Counter Culture with coffee that got marked. Both shaped his life philosophy. He, know about the Scouting, but she knows at
rave reviews. along with thousands of other students, least some of his love of birds can be attrib-
Houk took special pride in Counter protested the Vietnam War and boycotted uted to Emory, the abused parrot he adopted
Culture’s Sanctuary brand; its package carries a classes. However, he worked within the sys- during his junior year of college that was
picture of a songbird and tells the story of tem. He was active in student government with him for at least 15 years.
protecting the environment. and served as its speaker. As spring semester He loved UNC and the town. “We came
“I wrote the very first check written to 1970 came to a close, the academic fate of to Chapel Hill as students and fell in love
Counter Culture Coffee,” said Maggie the student boycotters was unclear. “We were with it. We never considered leaving,” said
Radzwiller, owner of Comfort Cuisine Cafe willing to flunk out or do whatever it took Virginia Houk.
in Raleigh. She said when Houk was starting to make that statement,” Houk said in an — Sally Walters
Counter Culture, she and her partners were article in the Carolina Alumni Review in 2000.
getting ready to open Pop’s restaurant in He recalled that audio speakers were set out
Durham. Houk approached her in his low-key on the lawn, as students awaited the outcome
way, asking to work with her to develop a of a faculty meeting where the fate of boy-
The May/June 2000 Carolina Alumni
Review profile of Houk is available online to
GAA members at