Daniels leaves lasting legacy

Published 10:03 am Thursday, October 5, 2017

AHOSKIE – As the only son of a father who tragically died at an early age, Herman Hallet “Hal” Daniels faced his formative years without the benefit of male leadership.

Perhaps that’s why Daniels, as he matured into a young man and later became one of Ahoskie’s most successful businessmen, made it his life’s ambition to become a father figure to several generations of family, friends, employees, and even total strangers.

Sadly, his “role model” life ended on Oct. 1 as Daniels passed away at his Ahoskie home where he was surrounded by those who loved him. He was 87.


Outside of his immediate family – which includes his wife of 61 years, Annie, his two children, Kim and Henry, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren – Daniels leaves a multitude of admirers….from those who shared his career path as a pharmacist, to his personal physician, to a fellow Ahoskie businessman, and a small army of satisfied customers from his days of owning and operating Capps-Daniels Drug Store and Copeland Drug Store. He worked at those businesses for over 30 years.

“Going to either drug store was a boyhood pit stop for me; I could ride my bike there and eat ice cream way before I started thinking about a career in pharmacy,” said Louis Mizelle, the now retired owner of Mizelle Discount Drugs of Ahoskie.

“I have deep, deep roots with Hal Daniels,” Mizelle continued. “I began working for him while in high school and continued working my summers there when I was enrolled in the School of Pharmacy at UNC (Chapel Hill). He hired and mentored so many young people, passing on his vast knowledge. So much of what he taught me I was able to use to build my business. I respected him so much.”

Mizelle admitted he was a workaholic while running his successful business, but stressed he knew only of one man who could outwork him.

“That would be Hal Daniels,” Mizelle stated. “Nobody outworked Hal Daniels.”

When Mizelle decided to retire and sell his thriving business, he turned to another Daniels’ protégée, Art Minton. Like Mizelle, Minton had worked as a young man at Capps-Daniels Drug.

“When we finalized the deal at the lawyer’s office, the first thing we did was to drive to Hal’s house to tell him what we had done,” Mizelle recalled. “That was our tribute to him and what he had done for us and how he had shaped our lives. Even though he’s now left us, his legacy lives on.

“Hal’s death is a big loss for Ahoskie; it’s a sad day for Ahoskie. But what I’ll always remember and hold dear to my heart is what Hal Daniels did for me as a young man, and later as a business owner, and for so many others in our little town. He was like a second father to me,” Mizelle closed.

Another local businessman who saw the value of how Daniels ran his pharmacies was Malcolm Copeland. He spent 46 years with Belk-Tylers (now Belks), to include the time when that department store was a mainstay on Ahoskie’s Main Street.

“Those were some great days in Ahoskie; we were blessed with great business leaders at that time and Hal Daniels was one of them,” said Copeland, now retired. “He was a great man and an equally great businessman. Without a doubt, Hal Daniels was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known.”

Copeland, who served several terms on the Ahoskie Town Council, also mentioned how involved Daniels was in his town over the years, to include his work as a member of the Ahoskie Beautification Commission and the Ahoskie Historic Commission.

Daniels also served on the Ahoskie Planning Board, and the Ahoskie Board of Adjustments. He was a member of the Ahoskie Jaycees and the local Chamber of Commerce, as well as serving as a board member of the old Centura Bank and Ridgecroft School.

“One of the best things about Hal Daniels was that he was my neighbor,” Copeland said. “We watched our families grow up together. We lost a great man, a great businessman and a great neighbor on Oct. 1.”

Another of Daniels’ longtime friends also served as his physician, Dr. Charles Sawyer.

“We were very close,” Dr. Sawyer said. “What I saw in Hal Daniels was a really bright and extremely intelligent man. He served our town and the outlying communities as a wonderful pharmacist, a true scientist at his craft. He was able to combine his God-given gifts with that of being a very sound and successful businessman. He had a tremendous work ethic.”

Like Copeland, Dr. Sawyer also sang the praises of Daniels as a community-minded individual.

“In all my years here in Ahoskie, I never saw a man that was so in tune, so in touch with his town, and so in love with this town and the people in it like Hal Daniels was,” Dr. Sawyer stressed. “He will most definitely be missed.”

Bart Riddick was another man whose life was touched by Hal Daniels.

“I have so much respect for that man,” Riddick stressed. “I had the good fortune to work for him from 1983 to 1988 and I learned so much from him. He was a positive role model in my life and the lessons he taught me have carried me throughout my professional career.”

Riddick, who worked with Louis Mizelle until the latter retired, said he and his former boss patterned their pharmacy after the way Daniels operated his businesses.

“Mr. Hal taught us the personal touch; doing business that way….opening your doors for your customers or even for total strangers after regular business hours carried Mr. Hal and carried Louis and myself a long, long way,” Riddick noted. “Hal Daniels was first class all the way.”

Memorial services for Daniels are scheduled for 2 p.m. today (Thursday) at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie. A reception will be held immediately after the service in the Fellowship Hall of the church, one that promises to include stories shared of this father figure to so many people.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal