Jesse Helms was a Republican U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was elected to the Senate in 1972 and served five terms.
Helms was born in Monroe, North Carolina on October 18, 1921. He attended the Monroe public schools, Wingate (NC) Junior College and Wake Forest College. He holds honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Bob Jones University, Greenville, South Carolina and Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania and he has received Honorary Degrees from Campbell University, Buies Creek, North Carolina, and Wingate University, Wingate, North Carolina.
He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 through 1945. After WWII, he became the city editor of The Raleigh Times, and later, Director of News and Programs for the Tobacco Radio Network and Radio Station WRAL, in Raleigh.
He served as Administrative Assistant to United States Senator Willis Smith from 1951 to 1953 and United States Senator Alton Lennon in 1953.
From 1953 through 1960, Mr. Helms was Executive Director of the North Carolina Bankers Association, and served as editor of the Tarheel Banker, which became the largest state banking publication in America under his stewardship.
He was Executive Vice President, Vice Chairman of the Board and assistant Chief Executive Officer of Capitol Broadcasting Company, Raleigh, North Carolina, from 1960 until his election to the Senate. From 1960 until he filed for the Senate in 1972, Mr. Helms wrote and presented daily editorials on WRAL-TV and the Tobacco Radio Network. His editorials were printed regularly in more than 200 newspapers throughout the United States. They were broadcast by more than 70 radio stations in North Carolina.
He served two two-year terms on the Raleigh City Council. During the four years, 1957 to 1961, he served as Chairman of the Council's Law and Finance Committee. He is past president of the Raleigh Rotary Club, and the Raleigh Executives Club. He is a 33rd degree Mason, Grand Lodge of Masons of North Carolina (Grand Orator, 1965, 1982, and 1991) and is a member of the Shrine.
He has served as the Director of the North Carolina Cerebral Palsy Hospital in Durham, the Director of the United Cerebral Palsy of North Carolina, and the Director of the Wake County Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Center in Raleigh.
He is a Baptist, and prior to his election to the Senate served as a deacon and a Sunday School teacher at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh.
He was one of the founders and serves as a director of Camp Willow Run, a Youth Camp for Christ at Littleton, North Carolina.
He has served on the Board of Trustees of Meredith College, John F. Kennedy College, Campbell University and Wingate College. In 1941, at age 20, he became the youngest reporter, up to that time, to win the annual North Carolina Press Association award for enterprising reporting.
In 1962, he received the annual Freedoms Foundation Award for the television editorial judged best in America. He was similarly honored by the Foundation in 1973 for a newspaper article.
He is the first Republican, as well as the first North Carolinians, to receive the Golden Gavel, an award given for presiding over the Senate more than 117 hours in 1973. He received a second Golden Gavel for presiding over the Senate more than 120 hours in 1974.
His name was placed in nomination for Vice President of the United States at the GOP convention in Kansas City in 1976. Although he asked the convention to withdraw his name, he nevertheless received 99 delegate votes.
He holds the Gold Medal of Merit from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the North Carolina American Legionaire Award.
In 1980, he was presented the Legislator of the Year Award by Christians for a Better America and proclaimed the National Man of the Year in Politics by Christian Voice, Inc. Also, in the same year, he received the North Carolina Public Service Award.
In 1980, 1981, and 1983, he was voted the Most Admired Conservative in Congress, by the readers of Conservative Digest.
Senator Helms was presented the American Security Council Award in 1982 and the The Conservative Caucus 97th Congress Statesman Award in 1983.
He received the Golden Eagle Award in 1987 from the American Federation of Police and the "Spirit of Enterprise" Award in 1989 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
He has received the Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Watchdog of the Treasury Award form the National Associated Businessmen every year since his election in 1973. In addition, he has received the Taxpayers's Best Friend Award from the National Taxpayers' Union every year since 1981.
He is married to the former Dorothy Jane Coble of Raleigh. He is the father of three children: Jane (Mrs. Charles R. Knox), Nancy (Mrs. John Stuart) of Raleigh and Charles of Winston-Salem, and has seven grandchildren.
Senator Helms began his first term in the Senate in January 1973; was reelected to a second term on November 7, 1978; to a third term on November 6, 1984; a fourth term on November 6, 1990; and a fifth term on November 7, 1996. Helms retired on January 3, 2003. His seat was taken by Elizabeth Dole, a former Red Cross offical, presidential cabinet member, and 2000 presidential candidate.
Records and Controversies
Helms voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.
Helms on Tobacco Issues
Helms was a strongly pro-tobacco senator and was considered "Washington's Number One Guardian of the Health of the Cigarette Industry." (E. Whelan, A Smoking Gun, 1984)
According to the September 1987 issue of the Multinational Monitor, Sen. inserted a provision in a Senate Trade Bill that removed U.S. exported tobacco from the no-net- cost provision of the tobacco loan program, meaning farmers who export tobacco would not be required to repay federal loans.
Helms died Friday, July 4th, 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was 86. 
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