Cabell Brand gets keys to City of Salem, Roanoke on 90th birthday

ROANOKE – Salem’s legendary businessman, Cabell Brand, received not one but two keys to cities at his 90th birthday celebration Sunday.

The first was the key to the City of Salem, presented by Salem Mayor Randy Foley, at the party given by Total Action for Progress – TAP – at the Holiday Inn on Ordway Drive in Roanoke. Roanoke Mayor David Bowers presented the key to the City of Roanoke.

Salem Mayor Randy Foley presents the key to the City of Salem to Cabell Brand at Brand's 90th birthday celebration on April 7. Photo by Meg Hibbert

More than 200 people from all walks of life that Salem resident Brand impacted gathered to celebrate his accomplishments, particularly those associated with founding TAP and serving on the board for 30 years of the organization originally called Total Action against Poverty.

The Roanoke Valley agency has been the model for others throughout the nation in fighting poverty, providing early childhood education through Head Start Centers – including the one in Salem in the former railroad station off Colorado Street – ways for families to purchase their first homes, get out of abusive situations and help themselves up.

He changed the face of business in the Roanoke Valley with Stewart McGuire mail-order shoes that he ultimately sold to the Home Shopping Network.

Brand, who has been known as “Mr. Democrat” for his enthusiastic support of the Democratic Party nationally and locally – and his friendship with such Democratic leaders at as former President Jimmy Carter – was praised by the party’s keynote speaker, Virginia’s Senior Senator Mark Warner.

In his remarks, Warner called Brand “ahead of his time,” and quipped, “Who else but Cabell would turn his 90th birthday into a fundraiser?” Guests were asked to contribute $32.50 each to TAP for the Cabell Brand Scholarship Fund.

Brand was at the event with his wife, Shirley, five of their eight children, and grandchildren. The evening before, 22 family members celebrated his 90th with a private family party.

For more on Cabell Brand’s celebration, read this week’s April 11 print issue of the Salem Times-Register.