Virginius Bryan “V.B.” Lougee III, ISE Distinguished Alumnus—Class of 2007—passed away on February 10th, 2023. He had a long and successful career at the American Tobacco Company (ATC), where he started after graduating from NC State. Lougee was known for his infectious humor that inspired smiles and laughter. “Over multiple conversations, I was immediately drawn to Mr. Lougee’s kind heart, love for his alma mater, for ISE and for helping students find their way to our department,” recalled Wanda Urbanska, ISE’s director of development. “Dad was very proud of his NC State degree,” recalled Carol Danforth, Lougee’s daughter. “Dad was born to be an engineer. His military service probably helped him know this. He was a problem-solver and a creative planner.”
Lougee was born in Durham, NC, and attended Durham High School. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served during World War II as a machinist mate 3rd class on the destroyer Norman Scott in the Pacific arena. Following the war, Lougee enrolled at N.C. State College, where he would meet and marry Dorothy (Dot) Leonard Lougee, a Watts Hospital School of Nursing graduate in Durham. “He happened to attend college at a unique time when so many men were returning from military service,” shared Danforth. In 1951, he earned his degree in industrial engineering. By this time, the Lougees had a two-year-old daughter, Carol, and later had a son, Brent. “His last year at State, he, my mom, and I lived in Vetville, newly created housing for students with families,” said Danforth. “They formed lasting friendships with other young families of returning servicemen.”
After graduation, Lougee began working at the American Tobacco Company. He started as an assistant foreman, was promoted to foreman then became the master mechanic for the ATC in Durham. In 1969, he transferred to the company’s research and development department in Richmond, VA and by 1973, he became R&D Director. In June of 1976, they moved to Darien, CT, so Lougee could take on new responsibilities. In just two years, he became the President and COO of ATC. In 1981 he became President and COO of the parent company, American Brands (currently Fortune Brands), where he would remain until his retirement in 1988. Throughout Lougee’s career, he served on the boards of many companies and was a member of the Chancellor’s Circle at N.C. State.
During his 34-year retirement, He and Dot enjoyed visits with their children and grandchildren and vacations at Hilton Head. Lougee was an avid golfer and woodworker and loved to garden. In 2006, they moved to Bermuda Run, NC—outside Winston-Salem—to be closer to their family. When Dot passed away in 2014, V.B. continued to stay active, attending many events like the symphony, sporting events, concerts and UNC School of the Arts events. But family visits and holiday gatherings were always his favorites.
“It amazed me at how professional and plugged in he was despite his advanced age,” shared Urbanska. “He always returned my calls promptly and we had wonderful conversations about his well-lived life. When I heard from his daughter Carol about his passing, I went right for the tissues.” Lougee will be remembered as someone who was drawn to all people. He was interested in their work, their families, and their hobbies. “He was happy to support educational programs that will allow young people to begin their careers, make a living, and progress professionally,” shared Danforth. “He also had an appreciation for teamwork. Dad valued the expertise and contributions of every member of a working team and carried this through his retirement and his family life.”