Cleo and Clark Masten

by Joan Bodenhamer

Good morning Mr. Hoots. This is Joan Bodenhamer and I thank you for your response to my daughter, Jan Whittingham. I did not work at RJR but instead at Wachovia Corporation and many years before that at Atlas Supply Company- founded by Egbert Davis of the Security Life, Piedmont Airlines family. I  was born in Winston-Salem, graduated from James A Gray High School and have lived here most of my life. I plan to order your book from Amazon and look forward to reading it.

I thought perhaps you would be interested in the story of two RJR employees, my Uncle Clark Masten, (B.1907) and his wife Cleo.  Clark was a machinist and Cleo a secretary on a plant floor.  They married late in life and had no children. They lived a comfortable life, nice home, active in their church, travelled a bit.

Cleo died first, leaving her assets to Clark. He felt he did not need her money and instead gave one million dollars to The Salvation Army.  At that time they were constructing a new home for their clients, and his money was used to furnish the rooms.  They named the unit in honor of Cleo Masten. Later Clark was presented with the Booth Award, the highest honor given to a civilian by the Salvation Army, and given a lovely bronze statue of Mr. Booth.

Clark wanted to share his good fortune and at one point wrote checks for $10,000 to each  of  his “close” relatives-he came from a large family! After much thought,  he established a trust which gave monetary gifts immediately after his death to the Salvation Army, Waccamaw Boys & Girls Home,  Nazareth Orphanage and the Rescue Mission.I had the honor of delivering the check to the Rescue Mission and the director actually cried when I handed him the check. Clark spent the last years of his life at  Salemtowne and left the bulk of his estate to them to be used to help residents who had run out of funds.  In January 2005, they named the Assisted Living Unit after him.

Bob Armfield, a local broker, told me his father helped many RJR employees get started by putting a small amount of their paycheck each week into RJR stock. His father felt that  was his most worthwhile accomplishment- helping ordinary people build their assets.

You mentioned Nancy Holder. I know Nancy. Her husband, Jim, and my husband worked together at P.H. Hanes Knitting Company, another venerable local company.

I vividly remember the “Barbarians at the Gate” days and look forward to reading your book. I hope this will add a little  to your understanding of the “Reynolds Millionaires” and how these people contributed to the good fortune of  so many others for years to come.

Joan Bodenhamer

Ms. Bodenhamer’s letter is representative of hundreds of stories about generous people in the Winston-Salem area. Her aunt and uncle never rose to big positions at RJR, but they devoted their working lives to the company, believed in it, and became the benefactors to many who received their gifts. 

The stockbroker, Mr. Armfield, was a long-time promoter of RJR stock. I have known many people who followed his advice to buy RJR stock, and they never regretted it.  GAH