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WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: Frye dedicates career to helping Richmond County residents with disabilities

Johnsie Frye spent 30 years at the McLaurin Center
Contributed photo

Our featured leading lady today dedicated her career to helping those with mental and physical disabilities, with 30 years of her career in Richmond County at the McLaurin Center formerly in Hamlet. 

Johnsie Sneed Frye grew up in the Greenlake community and attended Ellerbe schools. After graduating from Ellerbe High School in 1953, she married Alfred Frye in 1956, who was enlisted in the U.S. Army. While traveling with her husband during his service with the Army, the couple frequently relocated, during which she worked with the disadvantaged at Norristown State Mental Institution in Norristown, Pennsylvania, the psychiatric department in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, and volunteered at Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg. 

After her husband’s retirement, the couple returned to Richmond County and Frye started her tenure at the McLaurin Center in 1967, when she was one of the two first employees hired at the center as a vocational teacher. In 1968, she became the assistant director and in 1970 she was promoted to acting director for one year before she was named the executive director in 1971. 

During Frye’s three decades at the center, she advocated for and supported countless individuals with disabilities to provide services, teach skills, and find employment. She not only provided a voice for the disadvantaged, but she gave hope to so many who were hopeless and guided them to shift their focus from what they could not do and discover what they could do. In an article celebrating the 20th anniversary for the center in the Richmond County Daily Journal on June 24, 1987, she was quoted, “It is just as important to find out what a person can do as what he cannot do.” 

After Frye’s retirement from the center in 1997, she did some part-time work at a transitional home for females in Moore County. 


She shared two children with her husband, Alfred, who passed away in 1970: Sabrina Frye (Bill Koonce) and Alfred Frye (Laquita Frye). She has six grandchildren, Tiffany Frye of Brown Summit, Austin Frye and Lauren Frye, both of Greensboro, Taneya, Rashid and Kelli Koonce of Greensboro, and one great-grandchild, Faith, and one due this May. 

Frye has been an active member of R.L. Jones Methodist Church. She loves to cook, especially for family and friends, spend time and travel with her cousin, Hannah Christmas, play card games, and spend time with her family. 

Join us today in celebrating the 30 years of dedicated service Frye provided to those who needed it the most in Richmond County.

Meghann Lambeth is executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority. Republished from visitrichmondcounty.com. Throughout March, Visit Richmond County will feature a local leading lady in honor of Women’s History Month.


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