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Greg 'Catman' Good of Winston-Salem, renowned Carolina Panthers fan, has died at age 62

Greg “Catman” Good of Winston-Salem, a renowned fan of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, died Friday after a lengthy illness.

Good’s sister, Frances Bradley of Winston-Salem, said her brother died at Trellis Supportive Care in Winston-Salem.

“He was just real sweet,” Bradley said of her 62-year-old brother. “He loved being the Catman. He created that character, and he designed his costume.”

Greg Good Jr. posted a message on his Facebook page Friday night saying that his father had died.

“Hello everyone this is Catman Jr.,” the post reads. “As many of you have heard, the number one Panthers fan the legend my dad has passed away. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers and always remember to #keeppounding.”

Good had two other children.

The “Catman” was easily recognized by his trademark black-and-blue cape and blue hair and was a fixture at home games in Charlotte.

He attended the Super Bowl in 2016, where the Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos and in 2004 when the Panthers lost to the New England Patriots.

Panthers fans knew Good as the “Catman,” an outlandishly dressed character. His outfit and blue hair rising above his head in the electric style of boxing promoter Don King made him a magnet for TV crews filming crowd reactions.

Good signed autographs and posed for photographs with fans, sometimes as many as 400 times a game, he told the Winston-Salem Journal in late January 2016. In that same interview, he said he was taking medication to treat a congestive heart condition, plus he was recovering from a fall a couple of day earlier at the Panthers stadium as the fans celebrated a Carolina victory.

Visa Inc. recognized Good as the Panthers’ biggest fan of the 2003-04 season. The credit card company honors the ultimate fan in each of the NFL’s 32 cities. A plaque honoring Good and the other superfans that season was on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, for a year.

Photos: Greg 'Catman' Good

Kinnaman’s Furniture to close today

After nearly 23 years in business, Kinnaman’s Furniture store on Stratford Road is saying goodbye.

No longer will passersby and customers see different pieces of furniture displayed outside the store in the parking lot.

“Customers always notice,” co-owner Niki Kinnaman said about displaying the furniture that way.

Today will be the store’s last day of operation. Items are currently 50 percent off the price tag. The store’s merchandise includes a variety of dining room and bedroom furniture, upholstery, accent furniture, tables and chairs.

“We have a lot of unique accessories that we have gotten from estates,” Kinnaman said.

Kinnaman, who has worked since she was 15 and will turn 74 on Sunday, is retiring.

“We’re working seven days a week,” she said, referring to herself and Michelle Kinnaman, her daughter and business partner. “It’s really all-consuming.”

“When you own a store, it kind of owns you, and you can’t get away” she added.

Kinnaman said she will next travel to France with her husband, John Williams.

Initially, her daughter had planned to retire early, but has now decided to open a new business in the Kinnaman’s building.

Michelle Kinnaman plans to open Your Home Marketplace on Aug. 1. The business will provide more than 60 booths for vendors to rent.

Offerings will include home décor, furniture, jewelry, children’s clothing, fine art photography, and handmade candles and herbal soaps.

Different backgrounds

Kinnaman’s Furniture, which sells new, pre-owned and used furniture, as well as antiques, opened in the summer 1996.

Prior to going into business together, Kinnaman wrote TV and radio commercials primarily for the furniture industry. Her daughter previously worked in corporate finance for about 12 years.

“My grandparents loved furniture and they had a lot of fine antiques,” Kinnaman said. “I grew up with that.”

The mother-and-daughter team started out with a 2,000-square-foot shop in the West End area of Winston-Salem.

Back then, every other Friday was “truck day.”

The women, who have always enjoyed doing things together, would go up north to such cities as New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia, to buy the contents of estates before they went to auction. Then they would bring the merchandise back to Winston-Salem, pull a 28-foot trailer up on the sidewalk and sell it.

The Kinnamans moved their store to its current location at 670 S. Stratford Road in 2000 and bought the building from the heirs of Willis McCoy Gobble in 2014. The store currently has 10,800 square feet.

Over the years, the Kinnamans have seen dramatic changes in the furniture industry.

“The furniture industry was High Point, North Carolina, forever,” Kinnaman said.

But starting in the late 1980s, things started to change, she said.

“There was a group of men who decided they wanted cheaper product and went to China,” she said. “At that point, they threw the baby out with the bathwater, literally.”

Ultimately, a lot of furniture manufacturers in the United States were driven out of business because it was cheaper to make furniture overseas and ship it in, she said.

But, she said that things are now beginning to turn around.

“Some manufacturers are starting to come back thanks to the favorable business climate here in the U.S.,” she said. “If we can keep that strong, we’re going to bring a lot of our manufacturing back, which we need, because a country who does not manufacture, does not maintain its strength. You’ve got to manufacture something.”

She also said that currently people want quality, but affordable furniture.

She has also noticed that many older people, including those wanting to downsize to smaller homes, tend to no longer want the old furniture and antiques.

“Their kids don’t want their old furniture and they don’t want it either,” she said.

She added that people want to be comfortable in their homes and they want their guests to be comfortable, too.

“They want that new, more relaxed look, not the formal dining room set with eight chairs around it made out of mahogany,” she said.

Strong model

Kinnaman’s Furniture has always done well businesswise, Kinnaman said.

“Even during the downturn in 2008, we were stronger than ever because we give you a lot of value for the money you spend here,” she said. “We never had a dip. We were very blessed.”

She spoke of what she believes is the key to staying in business and why Kinnaman’s Furniture has survived so many years.

“You have to sell to your market,” she said. “We’ve always kept up with our current market.”

Customers come from all over, including Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, as well as Virginia and South Carolina.

“We have a lot of good customers we will miss, that’s for sure,” she said.

Margaret Wiggins of Winston-Salem and her husband, Charles, have been buying furniture from the Kinnamans since their first year in business in West End.

Wiggins said she calls her home “the Kinnaman’s House” because most of her home décor — from furniture to art — came from Kinnaman’s Furniture.

“I hate to see them close,” Wiggins said.

In his Independence Day speech in D.C., Trump lauds High Point for role in historic Greensboro sit-in

A High Point man and longtime civil rights activist was honored Thursday in President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July speech in the nation’s capital.

Trump commended Clarence Henderson, 77, for his role in the famous 1960 sit-in at Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter in downtown Greensboro to protest segregation.

“Clarence Henderson was 18 years old when he took his place in history. Six decades later he is here tonight in his seat of honor,” Trump said in his speech. “Clarence, thank you for making this country a much better place.”

Henderson, who was at the rainy celebration in Washington, said he appreciated Trump’s recognition.

The White House had called to invite him to attend the event, “A Salute to America,” which included a parade, fireworks, a show of military aircraft and Trump’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

“Anything I’ve done in my life I’ve never done it for recognition. I’ve done it because I thought it needed to be done,” Henderson said. “It was a great honor to be asked to come up and be recognized.”

He was a student at N.C. A&T in Greensboro when he joined the original four lunch counter protesters — A&T students who would become known as the Greensboro Four — on the second day of the sit-in, which began Feb. 1, 1960.

He said his friend and one of the Greensboro Four, Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), whom he had known since first grade, asked him to participate in the fight against racial segregation — enforced by Jim Crow laws — and he was “brave enough to answer the call.”

“I walked into that place, not knowing if I’d leave going to jail or the morgue,” he said. “I was all of 18, but I’d seen so many things growing up and knew we had to put Jim Crow laws aside, bottom line.”

As a civil rights champion, Henderson has been criticized for his candid support of the Republican Trump in his climb to the presidency.

But Henderson, who ran a financial services business for more than 25 years before retiring, said Trump has proven his business prowess and was the clear choice over the Democratic candidate in 2016, Hillary Clinton.

Henderson, whose father was a lifelong Republican, cast his first Republican presidential vote for George W. Bush and continued voting for Republicans, even when Barack Obama stood poised to become the first black president.

Henderson, who has given an invocation on five occasions for Trump, said the president’s speech and the overall Fourth of July event were further proof that Trump has been right for the job.

While the event was criticized for featuring military tanks and other armored vehicles, Henderson said it was celebratory and showed America’s strength.

“I think it was a great red, white and blue salute to America, nothing political about it,” he said. “One thing about our president is he cheerleads America. That’s one thing we need in a president.”

7-month-old baby dies at Brenner Children's Hospital; police say the infant was a victim of a homicide

A 7-month-old infant who died Thursday at Brenner Children's Hospital was the victim of a homicide, Winston-Salem police said Friday night.

Officers went to an apartment in the 1900 block of Franciscan Drive on a report that the infant wasn’t breathing, police said. When officers arrived, the infant’s family was performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the baby.

Officers then assisted with the CPR until emergency medical technicians and city firefighters arrived on the scene, police said. The medical technicians and the firefighters took the life-saving measures, and the infant was taken to the hospital.

While at the hospital, the baby died, police said.

An autopsy conducted Friday determined that the infant sustained injuries that caused the infant’s death, and medical examiner ruled the baby’s death as a homicide, police said.

Police didn’t identify the baby. Detectives are investigating the infant’s death.

“Due to the ongoing investigation, no other details will be released at this time,” police said in a news release.

The infant’s death is the city’s 12 homicide this year, as compared to 12 homicides in Winston-Salem during the period last year, police said.

Anyone with information about this matter can call Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800 or its Spanish line at 336-728-3904. Crime Stoppers of Winston-Salem is also on Facebook.

Wake Forest argues school could not have prevented fatal shooting of WSSU student on Wake's campus

Wake Forest University wants a federal judge to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the mother of Najee Ali Baker, a Winston-Salem State University student who was fatally shot while attending a party on Wake’s campus.

Baker, 21, a WSSU football player from Brooklyn, N.Y., was shot outside The Barn, an event venue at Wake Forest, at 1:01 a.m. on Jan. 20, 2018. Baker died later at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Baker had attended a party thrown by Wake’s chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Winston-Salem police say Jakier Shanique Austin, 22, shot Baker while Baker and another WSSU student were walking away from The Barn. Austin has been charged with murder in Baker’s death.

Malik Patience Smith, 18, is facing two gun possession charges and another charge that he pointed a gun at someone. Austin and Smith were not students at either Wake Forest or WSSU.

The charges against the two men are pending.

Jemel Dixon, Baker’s mother and executor of his estate, filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court on May 7 against Wake Forest, the university’s chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and Rhino Sports & Entertainment Services LLC, which provided private security for the event.

Among a number of allegations, the lawsuit accuses Wake Forest officials of failing to providing enough security measures, such as checkpoints and security guards, to prevent the fatal shooting.

In a motion to dismiss filed Wednesday, Shana Fulton, one of the university’s attorneys, strongly disputed those allegations. Fulton said that Wake Forest can’t be held liable for Baker’s death.

“According to Plaintiff’s own allegations, Austin’s violent assault on a guest on the University campus was literally unprecedented,” she writes in court papers.

The lawsuit mentions two incidents in 2014 that involved fist-fights, Fulton argues.

“There is no allegation that any crime remotely similar to the instant shooting had ever occurred on the WFU campus, let alone that the university could have foreseen this tragedy or that WFU could have done something to prevent the shooting,” she said.

The lawsuit alleges that Wake Forest made a series of missteps that made such a shooting possible.

According to the lawsuit, The Barn, which is near Piccolo and Palmer residence halls, had been the site of numerous problems requiring the intervention of university and Winston-Salem police. Because of those problems, a combined force of nine university and Winston-Salem police officers monitored events at The Barn. One of the incidents at The Barn involved six different fights at one time, the lawsuit said.

In 2014, black and other minority students alleged that university police were racist in handling events hosted by minority groups after the university police shut down a party that Kappa Alpha Psi, a black fraternity, had thrown.

After a town hall, the university police chief commissioned an independent study by Developmental Associates, a company led by two retired veteran law-enforcement officers.

The company completed its report in August 2014 and recommended a number of things, including ensuring that university law-enforcement and administrators handle event management at the university and not students.

The report also recommended that the university provide equal security at all student events to eliminate allegation of racial bias.

The lawsuit claims that the university ignored those recommendations, opting to let students handle event management and reducing the number of university police at student events.

But Fulton denied those allegations and said that even if those allegations were true, the lawsuit fails to prove that anything the university did or did not do had anything to do with Baker’s death.

The only way, Fulton said, for the school to have reasonably prevented Baker’s shooting was to bar all non-students from the event, search every car that came onto campus and escort every one of the 450 people who attended the party back to the person’s car or dorm room.

“What happened to Najee Baker in the early morning hours of January 20, 2018 was a terrible tragedy,” Fulton wrote. “But it was not a tragedy that the University could have foreseen, let alone prevented.”

Separately, Rhino Sports & Entertainment Services LLC filed a written answer Wednesday that denied all allegations of neglect.

No trial date for the lawsuit has been set.