The North Carolina Bar Foundation was pleased to announce the establishment of the N. Leo Daughtry Justice Fund at the NCBA 2022 Annual Meeting during the Wake Forest School of Law reception. The Daughtry Justice Fund was generously created by Leo’s family, friends, and colleagues. Justice Funds bolster the Foundation’s Endowment and help generate annual grants that are awarded to statewide legal service providers and programs that advance the Foundation’s mission, vision, and values.
Leo Daughtry was born December 3, 1940, to Namon and Catholeen Daughtry. He was raised on a farm in Newton Grove with his three older sisters and attended Hobbton High School. Leo left Newton Grove to attend Wake Forest University, where he made lifelong friends through his involvement in Sigma Chi Fraternity. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 and J.D. in 1965.
Upon graduation from law school, Leo entered the U.S. Air Force and served overseas in Turkey as a Captain, Judge Advocate General, from 1966-69. He returned to North Carolina and opened his law practice in Smithfield. He also embarked on a prolific political career serving in the N.C. Senate and N.C. House for 28 years from 1989-2017. He was a well-respected leader in the General Assembly, serving as both House Minority and Majority leader. Leo was a delegate to the Republican National Convention six times, was chosen Republican Leader of the Year in 1988, and was a gubernatorial candidate in 2000.
As a legislator, Leo was the architect of and played a pivotal role in the passage of legislation that led to vital changes and improvements in the administration of justice in the state. In October 2019, the North Carolina Business Court courtroom at Wake Forest University School of Law was named the Namon Leo Daughtry Courtroom in his honor. Leo’s time at Wake Forest was transformative, and he continues to be a strong supporter of all things related to the university, especially Demon Deacon football and basketball.
Leo was a co-owner of Mutual Distributing Company for 47 years. His entry into the beverage business began in 1971 when he purchased a small wine and beer distributorship which included Raleigh and six rural counties east of Raleigh. In 1978, Mutual became a statewide distributor and, at the time of its sale in 2018, had over 700 employees and seven branches throughout the state.
Leo’s positive impact on his community includes membership on the Board of Directors for multiple organizations such as the Community Foundation of Johnston County, Board of Trustees of Meredith College and Boys and Girls Club. He has been recognized for his decades of public service by numerous organizations, including Outstanding Legislator Award by the Advocates for Justice, Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce, Man of the Year by the Boy Scouts of America, and Celebrity of the Year by Johnston County Public Schools. He was also recognized by the NCBA Board of Governors in 2016 for “faithful service in the North Carolina General Assembly on behalf of the citizens of North Carolina.”
Leo is a champion for education and has been involved in many local and statewide efforts to support education for all students. Leo has served on the Board of Visitors at the University of Wake Forest School of Law. He currently serves on the UNC Board of Governors, which is responsible for the planning, development, and overall governance of the 23 UNC system institutions and affiliates.
While strongly committed to serving the citizens of his community and state, Leo also recognizes the importance of global interaction. This informed his desire to serve on the Board of Directors of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF), an organization of top executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals. His membership and work with SIBF have provided life learning and trusted relationships with global leaders.
Leo lives in Smithfield where he attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Family has always been a priority. He spends time as a loving husband to Helen, father to twin daughters Dana and Kelly, and proud grandfather to Katherine, Christopher and Hannah. He continues to practice law at the firm he began, Daughtry, Woodard, Lawrence and Starling, along with both his daughter and nephew.