I was born on November 29th 1945 to James Gordon Hanes Jr. and Helen Copenhaver Hanes and named after my mother’s father, Eldridge Copenhaver.
I spent my formative years in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and my high school years at Woodberry Forest School in Orange Virginia. Upon graduating from Woodberry, I enrolled at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and graduated in 1967 with a degree in Economics.
Following college, it being 1967 and the height of the Viet Nam war, I enlisted in the US Army. After basic training, advanced infantry training, and combat engineering Officer Candidate School, I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. A bit of logic understood only by the government. I spent my first year as an officer in New York City working at a joint DOD facility on projects of a secure nature. In 1968 I received orders for duty in Viet Nam and spent fourteen months in country. Initially I was a liaison officer between Support Command and the armored cavalry units in Third and Fourth Corps; then was made a member of the general staff of the Saigon Support Command. I left Viet Nam in 1970 with my life, a bronze star, and the disdain of the American public.
After a year of travel and recuperation, I married Jane Scott Grenley, a woman of exceptional character, humor, and perseverance evidenced by the fact that she has stayed married to me for over forty years. We have two children, three grandchildren and the anticipation of more to come.
I began my business career at Hanes Corporation, a firm started by my great grandfather. I left Hanes in 1978 and with two partners, started Xpres Corporation. Xpres eventually became, after a merger and then eight acquisitions, the Russ Companies with operations on five continents and over fifteen hundred employees.
While I enjoyed business, I promised myself that business would not be all consuming; thus, I worked with numerous arts, educational, and environmental organizations on both a local, state, and national level. Balancing my business career with my other interests gave me a perspective that I believe contributed to both.
Within the arts field, I served on the boards of the American Arts Alliance in Washington, DC, the American Council of the Arts in New York, the Winston-Salem Arts Council as President of the board, The North Carolina School of the Arts as the Chairman of the Board and president of the foundation, the Amon Carter Museum, the American Federation of the Arts, the North Carolina Governor’s Council on the Arts and Humanities, the North Carolina Cultural Alliance as Chairman, and the North Carolina Writers Network.
In addition to the arts community, I spent many years in wildlife conservation and environmentalism. I have served on the boards or the North American Wildlife Foundation in Manitoba, Canada, Trout Unlimited in Washington, the North Carolina Zoological Society, and was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to an environmental study commission called ‘Save our State’.
In the field of education, I was a board member of the Fuqua School of Graduate Business of Duke University, the Medical Center board of Wake Forest University Medical School, Woodberry Forest School, Trinity College of Duke University, Salem College and Academy, and Co-Chair of the Maya Angelo Research Center on Health Equity at Wake Forest Medical Center.
Besides the specific areas of interest listed above, I have also been active in the community needs of Winston-Salem and the state of North Carolina. I have been a member of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Winston-Salem United Way, the Urban League, the Metropolitan YMCA, North Carolina State Film Commission, North Carolina Heritage Tourism Advisory Committee, Winston Salem Millennium Fund, and finally was the 1996 Democratic candidate for the North Carolina State Senate in the 21st senatorial district.
To keep myself smiling along my journey, I also have pursued a number of hobbies. I have been a member of the American Orchid Society for thirty years and have managed to keep a rather large orchid collection alive for the same period. I played competitive Polo for ten years with a one goal rating. Excessive broken appendages and stitches forced me to swap my polo mallets for a set of golf clubs and for the past twenty years have pursued hitting a small ball that is lying still. I have fly fished in both salt water and fresh since I was a young man and continue to do so wherever and whenever time will permit. Wing shooting has been a passion for my whole life, ever since I got a double on Bob White quail and praise from my grandfather. I am currently a licensed scuba diver and was an airplane pilot for a number of years, at least until I realized that flying was no hobby. I have skied for many years and managed to break those few bones left in-tact during my polo excursions. Finally, I began to write seriously in 1997 after I lost the State Senate race. I joined the North Carolina Writers Network in 1998 and have pursued my study and practice of writing ever since.