Ben Elbert Douglas

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Benjamin Elbert Douglas, Sr. (1894–1981) was the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina from 1935 to 1941. He was the son of Benjamin F. Douglas (1831 - 1905) and Margaret L Miller Douglas (1857 - 1953).

Douglas was a prime mover in persuading the War Department to establish an air station at Charlotte shortly before the entry of the United States into World War Two. Charlotte Douglas International Airport was named after him in 1941. A Democrat, he was also the first mayor of Charlotte that was directly elected by voters, because of a change in the city charter.

Douglas was born in Iredell County, North Carolina on September 3, 1894. He served in the United States Army during World War I.

In 1946 Ben Douglas founded Douglas Furs, after Franklin D. Roosevelt asked a personal favor of Ben Sr. – to find a way to clean the fleece lined fur trimmed flight jackets for the soldiers flying in the then current war in Europe. He used his knowledge gained in the dry cleaning business (he owned one in Charlotte prior) and his ingenuity gained him a government contract and later a thriving business in the fur trade. Ben Douglas Sr. also was the relentless lobbyist for the now well-traveled Independence Boulevard. Mary Louise Douglas (his widow) continued to work at Douglas Furs 3 days a week until her death on December 29, 2007. The store is lined with historical text, newspaper articles of his election, and pictures of Ben and his accomplishments.

Mary Louise Douglas (his widow) continued to work at Douglas Furs 3 days a week until her death on December 29, 2007. People of all walks of life came in and spoke to Mary Louise giving them a first hand tour guide through Douglas' history as well as Charlotte's.

He had been previously married to Harlee Todd Douglas (1899 - 1930) and Carolyn Wilkes Douglas (1907 - 1962).

Children:

Robert L. Douglas;
Jean D. Beall; 
Ben E. Douglas, Jr. - Mr. Douglas, 83, died peacefully in his sleep on March 7, 2008 at Liberty Commons Nursing Home. He was born in Gastonia, NC on November 28, 1924, the first born child of Ben E. Douglas, Sr. and wife Harlee Todd. Mr. Douglas graduated first in his class from Porter Military Academy and attended UNC-CH. During World War II he proudly served in the US Army 20th Armored Division, the first Allied forces to enter Germany, crossing the Rhine River and liberators of Dachau, as recognized by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Center of Military History. Mr. Douglas was a master furrier and via his craftsmanship allowed Douglas Furs to become a regionally recognized fur business. Mr. Douglas's professional career also included commercial real estate brokerage and hotel/motel franchising business.

He married Norma Gibson Knight Melton (1924 - 2006) and had children: Ben E. Douglas (1949 - 2010), Stephen Todd Douglas, Diane Douglas Carter, Byron Evan Douglas and Benna Harlee Douglas. Their grandchildren: Alyson Hilal, Ashleigh Douglas, Christin Douglas, Jonathan Carter, Meredith Carter, Jade Douglas, Haven Douglas; and one great-grandchild, Mya.







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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017