Philanthropist Philip Hanes dies at 84

R. Philip Hanes Jr.
R. Philip Hanes Jr.

Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — R. Philip Hanes Jr., a former textile executive who made a big impact on philanthropy, particularly in the areas of the arts and the environment, died Jan. 16 at age 84.

A native of Winston-Salem who graduated from Woodberry Forest School and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before graduating from Yale University, Hanes served as CEO of Hanes Dye and Finishing before retiring from the corporate world at about age 50 to focus full-time on philanthropy.

“Phil was a stimulator,” says Milton Rhodes, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. “He was a stimulator of ideas, and getting others to pony up.”

In the 1960s, for example, Hanes spearheaded a successful effort to expand the scale of Stone Mountain State Park northwest of Winston-Salem by a factor of 10, says Doug Lewis, retired headmaster of Summit School and one of Hanes’ oldest friends.

“He didn’t wait for others,” Lewis says. “He would forge ahead on his own.”

And in the early 1960s, Hanes helped organization a telethon that raised $1 million and helped persuade the administration of Gov. Terry Sanford to choose Winston-Salem as the site for what is now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, winning out over competitors Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, Rhodes says.

After retiring from Hanes Dye and Finishing, Hanes formed Ampersand, a fundraising firm that focused mainly on the arts.

“There will never be anyone quite like Philip,” says David Winslow, president of The Winslow Group, a consulting firm. “He was just an extraordinary bringing-together of all kinds of different things.”

Those included a “passion for the arts and environment, aligned with the resources and the ego,” says Winslow, who as a member of the fundraising staff for the School of the Arts in the early 1980s shared space in the offices of Ampersand and considered Hanes a mentor.

Hanes was a founder of the American Arts Council movement, a founding member of the National Council on the Arts, and founder and first chairman of the North Carolina Arts Council, and an active leader in the early years of the first arts council in Winston-Salem.

He made significant contributions to Wake Forest University, and left a legacy in Winston-Salem that also included the Stevens Center for the Performing Arts, North Carolina Dance Theater, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Piedmont Opera Theater, and Trade Street Arts District.

Hanes was the author of How to Get Anyone to Do Anything.

During a visit about two weeks ago, Hanes talked about a list of $1.5 billion in projects “he knew were in the pipeline and he wanted to bed sure they were connected and that in the next 10 years they came to pass,” Rhodes says. “He just had a vision for how to make those things come to pass.”

Winslow, who says Hanes personally gave away millions of dollars, says he was effective “because he was persistent and he was creative.”

He also “preached to nonprofits” that they should “find ways of operating more in a business-like manner and learning from the for-profit sector,” Winslow says. “He believed there was a lot nonprofits could learn from the for-project sector, and vice versa.”

Lewis says Hanes “had vision and acted in a most determined way. He annoyed a lot of people with his brusqueness at times, his impatience, but he was a man in a hurry.”

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