David Stick 1919-2009

UNC Press author Bland Simpson has made his name on a myriad of talents, one of which is his superb ability to write about North Carolina’s coastline. Since 1993, UNC Press has published five of Simpson’s books about the area, with the most recent work–The Inner Islands–scheduled for paperback publication in the spring of 2010.

I mention Simpson because his contemporary writings on the North Carolina coast follow in the path of another celebrated UNC Press author–David Stick.

Stick, who passed away on May 24, 2009 at the age of 89, published a total of 13 books and countless articles on the Outer Banks area. Of Stick’s works, four are currently available from UNC Press, including his first UNC Press book, Graveyard of the Atlantic, published in 1952, and the 1998 collection he edited, An Outer Banks Reader, which features writing on the area from the 16th century through the present day.

Stick, who started his career with the Elizabeth City Independent, was a recipient of the North Caroliniana Society Award, the first Outer Banks Living Legend Award, and served as a U.S. Marine Corps combat correspondent in World War II. He even led the development and served as the first mayor of Southern Shores, a town north of Kitty Hawk in Dare County.

And while David Stick’s books of Outer Banks history definitely hold their own, his most lasting work may be the conservation and environmental work he completed. Stick was crucial in convincing the North Carolina General Assembly to adopt the Coastal Area Management Act in 1973. His 1956 publication, Handbook for Erosion Control, focused on how individual property owners could save the beach front. Scientific and government efforts on the issue didn’t truly get started until the following decade.

With David Stick’s passing, the Outer Banks, North Carolina, and the coastal literary tradition have lost a leading figure. Thankfully, Stick’s many years of writing and work can be accessed today, and will hopefully be available for a long time to come.

Special thanks to the following sources for much of the information above: Bland Simpson, Jack Betts, The News & Observer.

– Matt