Emily Irving Harris Preyer was born in Reidsville, NC in 1919 and grew up in Greensboro. Preyer attended Greensboro Senior High School (now Grimsley High School) and then went on to the Woman’s College (WC) of the University of North Carolina (now UNC Greensboro). While at the WC she double majored in English and French and was a member of several campus organizations including president of the Student Government Association. For the first three years at the WC, Preyer was a Town Student (now called Commuter) because her family could not afford the cost to live on campus.
In addition to being president of the Student Government Association, Preyer was the Dance Chairman for the Adelphian Society, Chairman of the Honor Board, Class Cheerleader, Le Circle Francais member, Clogging Club, Town Student’s Board member, May Day Court, Young Democrats Club, College Judicial Board, and the Carolinian Business Staff. Preyer was also a participant in various sports such as tennis and basketball, as well as other organizations and honors.
In 1943, Preyer joined the American Red Cross. She chose the Red Cross over the Navy WAVES or the Army WAC because the training time was only two weeks. Preyer was stationed in Perth and Brisbane, Australia and Subic Bay, Philippines.
Preyer remained in Perth with the Red Cross until 1945. After her return to the United States, she married the Honorable L. Richardson Preyer, U.S. Congressman and Federal judge. Their eldest son joined the Peace Corps in the 1970s and her daughter worked with the VISTA program. Through the rest of her life, Preyer continued to work with the Greensboro Chapter of the American Red Cross and served the Triad Community in various ways. From 1955-57, Preyer also served as President of the WC Alumnae Association. In 1998, Preyer was awarded the North Carolina Award in Public Service, the state’s highest honor, in recognition for her leadership and philanthropy in Greensboro. Emily Irving Harris Preyer passed away in December 1999.
In 2005, the former Chancellor’s Residence was rededicated as the Armfield-Preyer Admissions & Visitor Center. The building honors Preyer as well as Jane Harris Armfield (Class of 1960), a civil leader and board member of Weatherspoon Art Museum.
Post written by student assistant Sara Maeve Whisnant