William Earl "Billy" Brewer, Sr.
Pink Hill, North Carolina
William Earl Brewer, Sr. (Billy) died March 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM. He was a veteran of World War II, UNC Tar Heel, CPA, Rotarian, Methodist, tobacconist, small business owner, and--above all--a dedicated family man. Born on October 21, 1921, to W. Earl Brewer and Sophia Knott Brewer in Kinston, North Carolina, Billy grew up in Kinston under the watchful eyes of his mother and four Knott uncles: George, Thomas, Alan, and Henry. He graduated from Grainger High School in 1937 and his first job was with the family business, Knott Brothers Warehouse in Kinston, then with Branch Banking and Trust Company in Trenton, NC. Upon the United States' entry into World War II, Billy enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
He served as a bombardier/navigator with the 416th Bomb Group of the 9th Army Air Force in the European Theater. Between August 1944 and V-E Day, he flew missions over France, Belgium, and Germany.
Billy enrolled in UNC's School of Business on the GI Bill in 1946, graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in accounting in 1950, and earned his CPA license. While attending UNC, Billy and his cousins, Graham and George Knott, continued the family tradition of owning and operating a tobacco warehouse with the establishment of Knotts New Warehouse in Kinston. Billy and Graham operated the business as partners until Graham's death, and Billy continued to operate the business with Graham's son, Graham Knott, Jr., until Billy's retirement in 1986. He also worked with Kinston CPA, Simon Sitterson, during tax seasons for over thirty years.
In 1947, Billy married Kinston native Mary Marsh Hood (Marsha), a pharmacist who graduated from UNC's School of Pharmacy. In 1950, they saw the need for a drug store in Pink Hill, in Lenoir County, and moved there with their twin daughters, Bobbie and Betty, to establish Brewer Drug Company. Billy and Marsha made their lives and raised their family in Pink Hill, having three more children, Billy, Jr., Carolyn and Johnny, and operated their drug store until 1976.
Throughout their 66 year marriage, Billy and Marsha have been leaders in the business, social, professional, and civic life of Pink Hill and Lenoir County. Billy's service specifically included the following: Pink Hill School Board, Lenoir County Commissioner (1964 to 1980), Board of Trustees of Lenoir Memorial Hospital, Neuse River Council of Governments, Lenoir County ABC Board, and many roles at Pink Hill United Methodist Church.
Billy is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mary Marsh (Marsha) Hood Brewer and four children: Bobbie Brewer Hankins (Irvin W. Hankins, III) of Charlotte, Betty Brewer Watson (Charles M. Watson, Jr.) of Kinston, William E. Brewer, Jr. (Jo Anne Sanford) of Raleigh, and Carolyn Brewer Whitfield (Tom Whitfield) of Pink Hill. He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Marybeth Watson Terry (Chad), Marsha Hankins Thrasher (Drew), Laura Jane Hankins, Sarah Watson Lynch (Brad), Thomas Brewer Whitfield, Michael Lewis Whitfield and Charlotte Pait Brewer, along with five great-grandchildren and his "driver and friend", Megan McMahon. He was predeceased by his parents, his sister, Peggy Brewer Jenkins, and his son, John Hood Brewer.
Billy spent his retirement years happily engaged in a wide range of activities. They included participating in any and all activities of his church, following his beloved Tar Heels in their athletic pursuits, attending Living Legends programs in Chapel Hill and weekly Rotary meetings in Kinston, traveling to annual reunions of the 416th Bomb Group, and shopping at Aldi's(!). He was a man of modesty, integrity and commitment to whatever he did, and was happiest when surrounded by his family.
A visitation will be held Monday, March 17, 2014 from 6:00pm to 8:00 PM at Pink Hill Funeral Home (1056 Hwy 11 N., Pink Hill, NC 28572). The funeral service will be held Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM at Pink Hill United Methodist Church (102 W. Walnut St., Pink Hill, NC 28572). The burial will follow at Oak Ridge Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests support of Pink Hill United Methodist Church (102 W. Walnut St, Pink Hill, NC 28572). The family extends deep appreciation to devoted caregivers, Ann, Geneva, Irma and Peggy.
Published in The News & Observer on Mar. 17, 2014
Online Obituary from "Legacy.com"