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Bill Kirby Jr.: Paul Peel is a blessed man


When it comes to believing, Paul Peel needs not a single second to tell you the Lord has been his shepherd every day of his life.

Not a single second, mind you.

“Absolutely,” Peel, 93, says about his faith. “I got it from my mother and father, and I learned from God how to live right. You can’t ever forget the Lord.”

His Bible is always near at his Welmar Heights home, where Peel has lived since 1962, and where he and his late wife, Doris Williams Peel, raised their four daughters and a son along Ireland Drive.

He doesn’t read the Bible every day. “But I read it every other day,” he says.

And when it comes to his long life, Peel will tell you he counts his blessings every day. The best of his days, he’ll tell you, was May 25, 1950, when he married the brown-eyed girl from Laurel Hill in Scotland County.

A soldier, a wife and a red rose

Paul Rodgers Peel was the youngest son of Harper and Geneva Peel. His father was a farmer and his mother was a housewife when she wasn’t running her mercantile store in Hamilton, the Martin County town near the Roanoke River. He worked on the family farm known as Winberry Place, tending to the cornfields, tobacco fields and hogs. After graduating from Oak City High School in 1948, like many young men of his generation, Peel joined the Army.

Peel was stationed at Fort Bragg, and he served in Korea in 1953, in Vietnam in 1967 and again in 1970. He was with the 82nd Airborne Division. A master sergeant, Peel retired in 1972. Among his military honors were the Combat Infantry Badge, two Bronze Stars and the U.S. Army Commendation Medal.

He’s proud of his military service.

And proud of that day when he and a young Army buddy were in Laurinburg, and the girl in the blue dress caught his eye.

“I met her at the bus station in Laurinburg,” he says. “She was waiting on her sister. She was decent and nice and the best looking girl I had ever seen.”

Call it a chance meeting, but Peel couldn’t get the young woman in the blue dress off his mind. On his way back to Fort Bragg he stopped at a payphone and called the bus station. He told them he wanted to talk to “the girl in the blue dress.”

Doris Williams became the love of his life. They married in Bennettsville, South Carolina. She has remained the love of his life, even beyond her death from congestive heart failure at age 73 on July 13, 2005.

“The last four to five years of her life were spent at home,” daughter Dorrie Peel says. “Daddy took loving care of her until she passed.”

He placed a red rose on her grave every Friday at Fayetteville Memorial Cemetery until the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because I loved her and respected her for what she did for me,” Peel says. “I always tell her I love her and miss her.”

The pill man

Peel worked as an insurance adjuster after his military service. And after his wife’s death, he worked part-time at Bordeaux Drug delivering prescriptions to customers for more than 10 years. He was the delivery driver in the Bordeaux Drug truck with the Rx mortar pharmacy bowl and pestle atop.

“Everyone loved him,” Susan Hinkamp, the retired pharmacist, says. “Jane, my sister, remembers he had a soft spot for our older customers. He worked a couple hours a day, several days a week. He started right after his wife passed away.”

Peel celebrated his 93rd birthday on March 23.

His home is lined with photographs of his family. He’s spirited but likes the brown easy chair in the den, where he likes to keep up with the national news on the nearby television.

He still wears the kindly smile, unless those delivery folks are late with his K&W Cafeteria dinner. He can become a bit cantankerous when dinner isn’t on time.

Dorrie and Paula Peel take turns throughout each week tending to the father they adore.

“He walks on water as far as I’m concerned,” Dorrie Peel says. “I’m just honored to serve him.”

Oldest daughter Paula Peel leans on the leather armrest of her daddy’s easy chair and places her arm around his shoulder.

“He is the love of my life,” she says. “I measure any man in my life to him.”

Dorrie and Paula Peel will tell you their daddy is their hero. So will son William Randall Peel, 65, Liz Peel, 62 and Tish Peel Zimmerman, 52. And Peel will tell you he’s blessed to have children who love him as they do.


Peel will tell you that at age 93 he takes not the first prescription drug. He wants you to know, too, that he surely loves those dinners from K&W Cafeteria. Just don’t be late with the delivery.

And a few more things.

Peel will tell you God is good, he is blessed, he reads his Bible every other day … and he will always love that girl in the blue dress.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Paul Peel