Providing critical dental treatment to the needy in Jackson Macon Swain & Transylvania Counties of Western North Carolina

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is a very diverse group. Each member brings unique skills, perspective and energy — key factors in ensuring the current and future success of the Clinic. The Board and its various committees are intimately involved in many facets of the Clinic, including fundraising activities, publicity, donor and community relations, strategic development and financial management. All Directors are volunteers and serve for a three-year period.

Howard Meister, Board President at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Howard Meister

Ron Freeman, Board Secretary at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Ron Freeman

Bill Blank, Board Treasurer at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Bill Blank

Ralph Greene, Director at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Ralph Greene

Jim Kay, Board Director at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Jim Kay

Larry Ray, Board Director at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Larry Ray

Duncan Wheale, Board Director at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Duncan Wheale

Peggy Wike, Board Director at the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

Peggy Wike

Howard Meister, President

Howard brings a wealth of non-profit experience to the Clinic’s board. He is past President of both the Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley and the Cedar Creek Racquet Club. He is Chairman of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters affiliate in Cashiers. He is also very active in the Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels. Howard served as Treasurer for the Cashiers United Methodist Church for four years. The majority of his business career was spent in the packaged goods industry in sales, marketing and accounting with a Fortune 500 company. He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. He and his wife, Elaine, are full time residents of Cashiers.

Ron Freeman, Secretary

Ron grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University with a BBA and a major in management. He also attended The Executive Program (TEP) at Darden School of Business at University of Virginia. Ron started his business career at Ohio Bell in the management development program and transferred to Miami with Southern Bell, where he continued his career with various executive sales management assignments. He continued as Vice President-Sales in Atlanta for BellSouth and AT&T and retired after 30 years of service. Ron then went to work for Siemens Corp. as Sales Vice President for 10 years and retired in 2010. He has been married to his wife Donna for 40 years; they have two sons who live in New York City. Ron stays very active and enjoys playing tennis and jogging, as well as serving on the CCSV Membership Committee and the Board of Golf Club Estates POA. He and Donna are full time Sapphire residents.

Bill Blank, Treasurer

Bill Blank grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is a 1970 graduate of Texas Christian University where he earned a BBA degree. His wife of 46 years, Sally, is also a TCU graduate. Bill and Sally have two children: Lisa Trumps of Beaufort, South Carolina and Ben Blank who lives in Huntsville, Alabama. They also have three grandchildren who reside in Beaufort.

Bill enjoyed a 31-year career in the commercial real estate investment advisory business working with the real estate subsidiary of Equitable Life. For many years Equitable was the largest manager of commercial real estate assets for pension funds in the United States. His areas of concentration included the finance and acquisition of commercial properties and the management of real estate portfolios for large institutional investors. Some of his major client responsibilities included acquiring real estate assets and managing portfolios for The California State Teachers Retirement System, The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, CBS/Westinghouse and Core Property Trust, a private REIT owned by 10 institutional investors.

Bill and Sally are full-time Cashiers residents and also enjoy spending time in Charleston where they own a condominium. Bill served for three years on the board of The Country Club of Sapphire Valley as a director and treasurer. He has been a volunteer for many years for the business office at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. He served on the board of The Peggy Crosby Center in Highlands, NC for seven years and served as Co-Chair and Treasurer of that organization. He has also served on the board of Golf Club Estates in Sapphire. Bill and Sally are both avid golfers and Bill also enjoys fishing on the beautiful rivers and streams in Western North Carolina.

Ralph Greene, Director

Ralph was born and raised in Shelby, NC and graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 1970 with degree in Business Administration. He and his wife Becky were married that same summer. He is a Certified Public Accountant and spent the majority of his work career at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He held academic side positions as internal auditor, finance manager of the College of Dental Medicine and as budget director to the university. For the final 15 years of his career, Ralph moved to the 700 bed teaching hospital of the university, serving as Director of Financial Accounting and Reporting, Treasury Services and Tax Management.

In the fall of 2013, Ralph and Becky permanently moved to Cashiers after being "weekenders" at their home since 2006. Ralph served for 25 years in the US Army Reserve, retiring in 2008 as Sergeant Major. He currently serves on the vestry of the Church of the Good Shepherd, the board of the Country Club of Sapphire Valley and is the current treasurer and president-elect of the Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley.

Jim Kay, Director

James "Jim" Kay retired to Sapphire in 2011 after an impressive public works career as an engineering draftsman. With a Civil Engineering degree from Georgia Tech (1967) and a Master of Science degree from the University of Miami (1973), Jim worked for the City of Miami for almost 29 years, retiring as the City's Public Works Director in 1999. He spent the next year traveling with his wife of 44 years, Susan Carol Reed. In 2001, he left retirement and took a job with a local engineering firm, CAP Engineering. It was there that he assisted the firm's president in business development and undertook several new projects as project manager. In the latter half of 2001, Jim was recruited by the City of Coral Gables to work as a project manager in City's Public Works Department. Jim assisted the department in securing local, state and federal for a variety city projects and retired as the City's Engineering Division Supervisor.

Jim and Susan completed the building of their home in Sapphire Valley in 2007. Since both retired in 2011 and successfully sold their home in Coral Gables, FL, they decided to move to their Sapphire Valley home on a year-round basis. The Kays are very impressed with mountain living and the generous spirit of those who live in this region. Both are active at the Highlands United Methodist Church where Jim is the Church Lay Leader and Susan is the Church Treasurer. Both sing in the choir. They plan to live in Western North Carolina for the rest of their lives and look forward to becoming more involved local nonprofits.

Larry Ray, Director

Larry was raised in Northern Indiana. He earned his BSEE degree from Purdue in 1962 and a MBA degree from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 1976. He enjoyed a successful 40-year career in the electrical equipment and systems industry with Allis-Chalmers and its successor company, Siemens, serving the domestic utility, industrial, and commercial and residential construction industries. He held positions in engineering, manufacturing, sales, service, general management, and senior management, overseeing business units with over $1 billion of revenue. Larry also served on several internal Boards of acquired companies. During these 40 years, he lived in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Sanford, NC, Cincinnati, and Atlanta.

Larry and his wife of 50 years, Mary Ann, have two daughters and four grandchildren. They first found Highlands in 1989 and bought property at the new Cullasaga Club on their first visit. Larry and Mary Ann have been full time residents since 1998. Larry has been actively involved in the affairs of the Cullasaga Club since it became a member owned club in 2000, serving on several club committees and serving as the President of the Cullasaga HOA for six years.

Within the Highlands community, Larry and Mary Ann are involved with the Highlands United Methodist Church, where they have been members since 1998. Larry has served as the Head Usher for ten years and participates in the choir and several other committees. In the past, he has served as Chairman of the Stewardship Committee, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Board of Trustees, and Chairman of the Administrative Council.

Duncan Wheale, Director

After a successful battle with cancer, Duncan retired in 2009 as a Superior Court Judge in Augusta, Georgia. Prior to his retirement, he was involved as a volunteer with many non-profits and organizations on a local, state and national level. In 2011, he was named by the Augusta Chronicle as one of the area's 10 most influential leaders during the previous decade. Duncan and his wife, Carolyn, moved to Charleston, SC, intending to make the Holy City their home. But they found themselves spending most of their time in Cashiers, where they have owned a home for 20 years. Duncan joined the Cashiers Rotary Club in 2012, and in 2013 traveled to Bolivia with a Rotary shipment of 550 wheelchairs. He looks forward to serving the Free Dental Clinic and already has sprouted his wings: he's an official Tooth Fairy known as Blue Suede!

Peggy Wike, Director

Peggy Wike is a retired educator with Jackson County Public Schools. She spent her entire career in education, beginning as a classroom teacher and retiring as a Program Director. As Director of Media, she led Jackson County Schools to become the first county in the western part of the state to computerize libraries. She developed many after-school programs for students to encourage better school attendance and prevent dropouts.

Peggy is very active with the Rotary Club of Sylva, serving as the club's president for 2015-2016. As a Rotarian, Peggy has travelled to the Philippines twice as a Friendship Ambassador and a Wheel of Hope member. She is a native of Jackson County and lives in Tuckasegee.