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Mershon, Arthur and Florence

In Honor Of Arthur and Florence Mershon

On September 27, 1916, Arthur Hartland and his wife Grace Carrill (Mansfeild) Mershon had a baby boy they named Arthur Hartland “Hart” Mershon Jr. He grew up and attended high school in Rahway, New Jersey, before attending Rutgers University. While at college, Mr. Mershon was elected to the Kappa Tau Alpha honorary journalism society and competed as a member of the cross-country team. In 1938, he earned his bachelor of letters degree in journalism.

During World War II, Mr. Mershon served three years in the army. He was first assigned to field artillery then transferred to the 166th General Hospital in France. Mr. Mershon finished his tour of duty in the army’s information and education division. While in France, he became a member of the Advertising Club of Paris.

Before coming to Kenly, Mr. Mershon worked as an editor and reporter for various newspapers in Jew Jersey, the Bahamas, and Pennsylvania. While the managing editor of the New Brunsworth Sunday Times, he won first place in 1949 for his editorial “The Four Freedoms” discussing the United Nations. The newspaper’s real estate section, which he edited, won an award in 1952 as the best in the United States.

John and Annie Belle Fairest had a baby girl on May 23, 1920, who they joyfully named Florence Fairest. She grew up and attended high school in New Brunswick, New Jersey. On May 19, 1962, she married “Hart” Mershon Jr. with whom she has shared her life with since.

Mr. Mershon and his wife moved to Kenly in late 1974 to purchase the Kenly News, Fremont — O’Keville News, and a home. The couple received a friendly welcome in Kenly and soon became involved members of the community.After moving to Kenly, Mrs. Mershon continued her career in banking that lasted thirty-two years overall. Before moving to North Carolina, she served as treasurer for one of the oldest and largest savings banks in New Jersey. While living in Kenly, she worked for Raleigh Savings Institution as their assistant treasurer. In her spare time, Florence enjoyed being a soloist in her church choir and acting in amateur theater productions.

Mr. Mershon made the Kenly News a paper dedicated to the area’s agriculturally-based people. Like his neighbors, he knew how vital farm families were to his community and the economic importance of their crops — especially tobacco — to the state. He made sure the Kenly News covered all the farm related meetings and events in Johnston, Wilson, and Wayne counties. For his efforts and concern, the Johnston County Agribusiness Council recognized Mr. Mershon and the Kenly News by awarding them their annual Outstanding Contribution to Tobacco award for 1978-1979.

Mr. Mershon’s community activities did not stop at work. He has been a member of the Johnston County Agribusiness Council since 1970, and served as their vice-president and president. He also served as a member of the Central Carolina Farm and Home Show committee, the Farm City Week committee, and held terms as president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer for the Kenly Area Merchants and Professional Association (KAMPA). A particularly significant event he experienced while with KAMPA happened during the national bicentennial celebration when he chaired the Kenly Doctor’s Day committee. Under Mr. Mershon’s direction, the town recognized four of Kenly’s doctors for their years of service and erected a monument to their honor in Grady Park. For all his hard work and dedication, KAMPA later gave Mr. Mershon the Kenly Citizen of the Year and Distinguished Citizen awards.

In 1981, Mr. Mershon sold the Kenly News to Richard and Karen Stewart. In recognition of his work at the newspaper, the Tour Council of Kenly presented Mr. Mershon a plaque of recognition. In 2000, after Mr. Mershon helped cover stories for the Pine Level News, the city council honored the couple as marshals for the town’s Christmas parade.

The Mershons still live in Kenly and support their community as much as possible. In 2003, the Tobacco Farm Life Museum honored the couple for their assistance early in the museum’s history and being loyal patrons since it first opened.

The Kenly News donated this page for Arthur and Florence Mershon.

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