PINEHURST, MOORE COUNTY - Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Holshouser has died. He was 78.
Holshouser's family said he died Monday morning at a hospital in Pinehurst after a period of declining health.
A native of Boone, Holshouser was the first Republican elected governor in the state in the 20th century when he won during President Richard Nixon's landslide victory in 1972. He was also the youngest governor in state history.
Holshouser created a University of North Carolina Board of Governors to oversee the state's newly consolidated system of public universities and established health clinics in rural areas. He expanded public school kindergartens and added to the state parks system.
After leaving office in 1977, Holshouser moved to Southern Pines and returned to practicing law. He also served 16 years on the UNC-system board.
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) released a statement Monday in response to Holshouser's passing.
"As North Carolina's first Republican governor in the 20th century, Gov. Holshouser made an indelible mark on our state's history. He dedicated his life to serving others, and his legacy of strengthening our state's public schools and universities continues to ensure bright futures for our students. Gov. Holshouser was a dear friend and trusted adviser, and I will miss him greatly."