Alfred Johnson Fletcher, the seventh of fourteen children, was born in 1887 in the mountains of North Carolina. After studying law at Wake Forest College, he opened a practice in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. In 1919 he moved his family to Raleigh to pursue other business opportunities. Fletcher had great success with his many ventures including a legal practice, the Dixie Life Insurance Company, Hayes Barton Laundry and Dry Cleaners, and a whole sale grocery business. His greatest achievement was the Capitol Broadcasting Company, which he created when he applied for a 250 watt AM station in 1937. When he went on the air in 1939, he was only the second radio station in Raleigh.
In addition to being a wise businessman, Fletcher was a firm believer in the arts. An early life experience attending an opera made a life-long impression on the entrepreneur. In the late 1940s, Fletcher and friends created the Grass Roots Opera Company, now known as the National Opera Company, exposing many young people to this classic art form. With a strong interest in music, Fletcher also started the Fletcher School of the Performing Arts, creating music scholarships for college bound students. Despite his death in 1979, his generous spirit continues on today in the work of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which supports the arts, anti-poverty programs, public education and emerging non-profits.
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