Onslow County businessman Sewell dead at 81

Jacksonville mainstay was early investor in Golden Corral

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Louis W. Sewell Jr., an early investor in the parent company of Golden Corral and a two-time appointee to the North Carolina State Board of Transportation, died Friday at his home in Jacksonville. He was 81.In 1971, Sewell, then a junior high school principal, invested in friend James Maynard’s restaurant venture and became a founding partner in Director of Investors Management Corporate, which became the parent company for Golden Corral. The first restaurant opened in 1973 in Fayetteville.Sewell eventually joined the company as an executive, and Golden Corral has grown into a national chain with more than 500 buffet-style restaurants in 41 states.Sewell also served two North Carolina governors. He was appointed to the State Board of Transportation in 1981 by Gov. Jim Hunt, and then to the same post again by Gov. Mike Easley in 2001. His native Jacksonville and Onslow County benefited from his appointment, with Sewell pushing for highway and road improvements that helped spur economic growth. Sewell resigned his post under Easley in 2008 amid allegations he voted for improvements that would have personally benefited him. Sewell is survived by his wife of 54 years, Doris, and three children: Billy, Paula and Betty. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Jones Funeral Home in Jacksonville.