Ralph Philip Hanes Jr.
February 25, 1926 – January 16, 2011
R. Philip Hanes Jr. founded River Ridge Land and Cattle Company with his wife, Charlotte. Together they took the initiative to learn about restorative farming practices and implement them on River Ridge Farm. Their goal was to help area farmers implement new methods to decrease their workload and make a profit, while also preserving the land.
River Ridge Farm and the preservation of farmland in Grayson County, VA were far from Philip’s only contributions to the betterment of the world. Philip Hanes led a remarkable life that continues to be an inspiration to those who knew him — especially to the team at River Ridge.
Nationally renowned as an arts patron, environmental activist, and business leader, Philip was a mover and shaker who made success look easy. His legacy is one of generosity and diligence in business, the arts and conservation, and other noteworthy civic and philanthropic causes. Throughout his life he sought knowledge, was gifted with humor and common sense, and worked tirelessly on causes to benefit all Americans. This was made apparent in his affiliation with more than 115 arts, conservation, and business organizations where he held more than 180 positions — many of which were on boards.
Philip was a firm advocate in conservation and land protection. He played a pivotal role in the creation of Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina (including donating the land); he preserved 9,00 acres around Mount Mitchell; and he and his wife, Charlotte Hanes, were the founders of Virginia New River Blueway.
Philip’s conservation efforts did not go unrecognized during his lifetime. He received multiple awards for conservation including The North Carolina & National Wildlife Federation Award for Preservation of Natural Areas and The Gulf Oil and Isaac Walton League of America Conservation Award. He was made an Honorary North Carolina Park Ranger, and he served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, National Audubon Society, Isaac Walton League of America, National Committee for the New River, and the New River Community Partners.
Philip combined his business acumen with his knowledge of and appreciation for the arts, establishing the country’s first state arts council in North Carolina, helping create the American Council on the Arts, and serving as an advisor on the boards of more than 50 national, state, and local arts councils across the country.
Philip helped create the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and North Carolina School of the Arts in his hometown of Winston-Salem, NC and then worked consistently and effectively to publicize, promote, and increase their impacts nationwide. He was a founding member of the National Council on the Arts — the original distinguished group of experts advising the National Endowment for the Arts — and served on boards and committees of the National Museum of American Art, the Kennedy Center, the Spoleto Festival, and scores of other distinguished arts organizations.
His awards and citations for his work in the arts are also numerous. He was presented the National Medal of Arts by President George H. W. Bush for his exceptional achievements on behalf of the arts in America, was awarded the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Founder’s Award, and received the Ralph J. Bunche International Medallion.
Family Life & Career
Philip was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on February 25, 1926. His parents, DeWitt Chatham Hanes and Ralph Philip Hanes Sr., were patrons to the local community. Philip’s father even financed the restoration of Old Salem — a historic district of Winston-Salem that was originally settled by the Moravian community in 1753. In 1950, Philip married his first wife, Joan, who passed away in 1983. Philip later met Charlotte and the two were married in December of 1984.
Philip attended Woodberry Forest School and UNC Chapel Hill, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, and completed a training program with Spring Cotton Mills before returning to Winston-Salem in 1949 to begin his ascent up the corporate ladder of the Hanes Corporation — his family’s business. He learned the company from the ground up, eventually becoming CEO in 1964. During his time as CEO, he successfully oversaw the desegregation of the company’s facilities. Philip resigned as CEO from Hanes in 1976, but remained invested in the business as a chairman of the board and the second-largest stockholder.
In 2006 at the age of 80, Philip drew upon his vast life experience to write his first book, How to Get Anyone to do Anything. In 2011, Philip died at the age of 84 in his native Winston-Salem. His ashes were installed in the sculpture Conversations on the campus of University of North Carolina School of the Arts.