Three guys from Pittsboro having lunch at Rufus’ with former Goldston mayor Tim Cunnup

By Gene Galin

Goldston, NC – It was a sunny Friday afternoon in Goldston when the three guys from Pittsboro decided to have lunch at the renowned Rufus’ Restaurant. Joined by the former mayor of Goldston, Tim Cunnup, our lively conversation quickly filled the small diner with laughter and nostalgia. As Greg Stafford, Eric Andrews and I pondered over the day’s specials, our conversation turned into an impromptu interview with Cunnup, exploring his years of service and the changes he witnessed in the town he loves.

The Specials of the Day

Sally, the friendly waitress, greeted us and promptly listed the specials: rib steak sandwiches, marinated chicken, pork chops, mac and cheese, and green beans. The highlight, however, was the famous Rufus Burger, which boasted two patties on a 4.5-inch bun with optional cheese.

A Taste of Goldston’s Best

After a brief discussion, we all decided on the Rufus Burger, each of us customizing it to their liking. The order included bacon for one, chili slaw and mustard for another, and just cheese for the last. They also opted for onion rings on the side.

As they waited for their food, our conversation naturally shifted to Cunnup’s time as mayor. “I understand the town’s really gone downhill since you left,” I joked, prompting laughter from the entire table. Tim assured us all that it hadn’t.

Reflecting on a Long Tenure

Cunnup, who served as mayor for 23 years, recounted his journey into local politics. He initially joined the town board in the early 1990s while his father-in-law was mayor. When his father-in-law retired, Cunnup felt it was his turn to step up, despite not being specifically told to do so. “Did you get a scepter when you became mayor?” I asked.

“No, there was nothing like that,” Cunnup laughed, reminiscing about the simpler times when he first took office.

The Changing Face of Goldston

Goldston, incorporated in 1907, has a rich history, with some structures dating back to 1882. Originally a “Circle City,” the town’s layout was a perfect circle with a radius of half a mile. However, recent annexations have extended the town’s boundaries, altering its original shape.

One pressing issue discussed was the proposed rock quarry and the potential annexation of the area. Cunnup voiced his personal opposition, although he acknowledged the current town board might have different views. “I don’t think we need to annex it personally,” he stated, noting the mixed feelings among residents, particularly those in the nearby Antioch area.

The Impact of Development

The conversation veered towards the broader implications of development and how it has shaped the town. Cunnup shared his experiences with property values being affected by industrial projects, drawing parallels with past developments like the 3M plant.

“I’m a NIMBY when it comes to quarries. I don’t want them near me,” Cunnup admitted, highlighting concerns about noise, dust, and traffic from quarry operations.

Balancing Growth and Tradition

Goldston has seen significant growth in recent years, and with it, the challenge of balancing progress with tradition. Cunnup reflects on his time in office and the delicate act of maintaining the town’s character while embracing change.

“We’ve had to navigate some tough decisions,” he admits. “But at the end of the day, it’s about preserving what makes Goldston special while ensuring we grow in a way that benefits everyone.”

A Glimpse into Personal Lives

Amidst the discussion of town politics, the group delved into personal anecdotes. Cunnup shared how he met his wife, Camille, through her brother, who was his best friend in high school. Their relationship blossomed after Cunnup returned from college, leading to a marriage that has lasted 39 years.

“Did you ask Gene for permission?” Greg inquired, to which Cunnup responded with a smile, “Gene didn’t give it initially. He wasn’t happy with the arrangement at first, but her dad did give me permission.”

The Future of Goldston

As the Rufus Burgers arrived, we savored the hearty meal, continuing our lively conversation. Cunnup reflected on his post-mayoral life, still active in real estate with Realty World Carolina Properties. Despite stepping down from his official role, he remains deeply connected to the community.

The discussion touched on the future of Goldston, with concerns about maintaining the town’s character amidst growth and development. Cunnup emphasized the importance of thoughtful planning to balance progress with preservation.

A Community Hub

Rufus’ Diner isn’t just known for its food. It’s a gathering place where locals, including former Mayor Tim Cunnup, discuss everything from town politics to local sports. On any given day, you might find a spirited conversation about local events.

“This place has always been about more than just food,” says Cunnup, who served as mayor for 23 years. “It’s where the community comes together. We’ve had so many important discussions here, made so many memories.”

During this particular lunch we had a chance to take a look into the life and experiences of Tim Cunnup, reflecting on his contributions to the community and the challenges that lie ahead for the town. We thank him for joining in on our conversation.


Watch on YouTube – Part 1 – Three Guys from Pittsboro having Lunch at Rufus’ Restaurant in Goldston – 5.17.24

00:14 Sally describes the special of the day

  • Sally mentions the menu items: rib steak sandwiches, marinated chicken, pork chops, mac and cheese, and green beans
  • The group discusses the Rufus Burger, its size, and customization options

02:24 Discussion about food preferences during lunch

  • Anecdotes about ordering food with double bacon and extra mayo
  • Conversation about the menu items and recommendations for a full meal

04:26 Tim Cunnup’s background and experience as the former mayor of Goldston.

  • Tim Cunnup served as the mayor for 23 years, following in the footsteps of his father-in-law.
  • He decided to run for mayor after being on the town board and felt it was time to step up.

06:46 Discussion about retirement and life after retiring

  • No issues with wife about retirement, ready after 23 years of work.
  • Transition from work to retirement, still active in real estate.

08:53 Love story and marriage of Camille and Gene

  • Camille and Gene met at Sand Hills after Gene got stood up on a date
  • Gene asked Camille’s dad for permission to marry her, despite initial resistance from Gene

10:52 Goldston history and concerns about annexation

  • Goldston was incorporated in 1907 and has a rich history with old structures still standing.
  • There are concerns about annexations, particularly related to a proposed rock quarry, with potential impact on town revenue and property values.

13:10 Concerns about quarry operations in the area

  • Discussion on the history of the existing rock quarry and zoning changes over time
  • Issues highlighted include broken windshields, traffic, dust, and truck disturbances

15:06 Discussion about trending stories and increased website visits

  • The conversation highlights how their stories have trended on the Chatham Journal website and increased website visits
  • There is a discussion about the content being aired on YouTube and the subsequent stories being written about it