University advocate, community leader Dennis Rash dies

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dennis Rash, a visionary leader in the community who served UNC Charlotte in several key roles beginning in the 1970s, died Tuesday, July 25. He was 77.

After an eight-year stint at UNC Charlotte in the 1970s as dean of students, Rash left the University to begin what would become an illustrious 23-year career at Bank of America.

During his tenure at the bank, Rash initiated the first community development corporation and subsequently became the first president of the bank’s community development subsidiary. Rash was influential in developing many of the bank’s mixed-use buildings.

Returning to UNC Charlotte in 2001 as executive-in-residence and visiting professor for transportation policy studies, Rash provided crucial counsel, advocacy and support for a number of important projects.

“Dennis was involved with this University for many years, and his contributions covered so many different areas, from the needs of individual students to UNC Charlotte's emerging role in the greater community," Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said. "His advice was always solid, and his vision was tremendous."

Dubois referred to him as a driving force in the development of UNC Charlotte Center City and the adjacent First Ward Park and the Blue Line Extension of the LYNX light rail to campus, which are among the University’s most strategic achievements.

Rash, and his wife Betty Chafin Rash, received the University’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 2013. They were recognized for their commitment to the community and UNC Charlotte.

"The Rashes have remained steadfast in their commitment to service, dedication and passionate advocacy, demonstrating persistence, fortitude, honesty, integrity, and generosity of spirit," said Dubois. "Their tireless efforts have expanded educational opportunities for all the members of our community and have helped to forge a more vibrant, equitable society for all."

In an article in the Charlotte Observer, Rash was lauded for his efforts to help reshape uptown Charlotte, and former University trustee Cathy Bessant paid tribute to Rash in a special Viewpoint column in the Observer.

Rash was born on Dec. 13, 1939, in Lenoir, North Carolina, the son of Margaret Rabb Rash and Lloyd Monroe Rash. He was a Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, and he earned his law degree at the University of Virginia.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, at First Presbyterian Church with a reception afterward in the fellowship hall.