Dr. Walter Lewis McNair, a druggist of Greensboro, is one of those sturdy men who by patient perseverance and hard work has won a measure of success in his chosen profession which is a credit to him and to his native State. He was born at Hamlet in Richmond Co., on Nov. 4, 1868. His father, Camus McNair, was a farmer. He was a loyal and trusted servant. Even after the war he managed the estate of his mistresses until they all passed away, some fifteen or more years after emancipation. Later came business reverses, the result of inefficient management. Under these conditions, the subject of our sketch was doomed to years of hard work with little pay. Dr. McNair’s mother was, before her marriage, Rebecca McMillian. His paternal grandmother was Jane McNair. His mother’s father was Rev. James McMillian, who lived in Columbia, S. C.
Young McNair laid the foundation of his education in the public schools of Laurinburg, but when he aspired to a higher education the way was not easy. He went to work for an elder brother who promised to see him through school. His never got beyond the stage of promises, so it was not strange that the boy broke away and began working for himself. He worked at whatever offered and saved his money. He entered the preparatory department of Biddle University and remained in that institution for four years.
Having decided to take up pharmacy, he matriculated at the Leonard School of Pharmacy, Shaw University, where he won his Ph. G. degree in 1897. He was engaged in Raleigh for a while and then went into the Spanish-American War as a hospital steward. On his return, he went into the drug business for himself in Greensboro, where he has since resided and prospered. He has an up-to-date, attractive store on East Market Street.
Looking back now over the days of his boyhood and youth he is of the opinion that the greatest single factor in shaping his life and giving right direction to his thinking was his early attendance and love of the Sunday School.
Dr. McNair has been married twice. On Aug. 15, 1900, he was married to Miss Rosa Jones, a daughter of Adam and Rebecca Jones. They had two children, Walter L., Jr., and Cecil McNair. In 1906 the mother of these children passed away. On Jan. 8, 1908, Dr. McNair was married to Miss Roxie E. Brooks of Danville, Va. Their children are James, Kermit, Wilber and Gurney McNair.
Dr. McNair is a prominent lay member of the Presbyterian Church, with which he has been identified since boy hood. He has been an elder in the church for a number of years and has twice been a commissioner to the Presbyterian General Assembly, which is the highest court of the denomination. He is now asst. Supt. of his local S. S.
He is active in the work of the secret and benevolent societies and also in state and local civic organizations. He belongs to the Masons, Pythians, Eastern Star, Court of Calanthe and the Elks. He is Vice President of the local building and loan association and also Vice President of the N. C. State Fair and Industrial Association.
He is recognized as a conservative business man and stands well with both his white and colored neighbors. His work has been of the constructive sort and few of his neighbors in his boyhood days would have been bold enough to have predicted the successful business career to which he has attained.