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The Kirby File: Let us remember, they walked among us

Second of two parts.


Editors note: Second of two parts. Read part one here.

They were fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, grandparents, friends and neighbors — and a part of our lives. They were among the loved ones we lost in 2023. Let us remember, they walked among us, and may we never forget.

Danielle Claire Golcher, 19. “Dear Dani,” a mother would want her daughter to know. “I love you. I want you to know I couldn’t have had a better daughter. I know you love me so much. I wanted you to have the best life possible. I love you with all my heart, and I will never stop loving you, Dani.” July 17.

Benny Morris Pearce, 83. “I wanted to be like ‘Dad,” a son would remember his father, the Cumberland County Schools assistant superintendent, principal and teacher. “It’s what I wanted to be my whole life. Even to the end, I wanted to be like Dad. My goal is now to honor his memory for all I learned from him in 50 years of life.” July 17.

David Richard Lloyd Jr., 52. He was reserved, with a confidence and assurance of who he was. He could have been a governor or a congressman. He was good to look upon, and he was genuine in his kind ways for others. He became an inspiration for all who have come to know amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and with his brother raised $1.1 million through their Racing for ALS campaign to help find a cure for what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. There are some people who pass your way in life, and David Lloyd Jr. is one of those people you never forget. July 25.

Gwendolyn C. Parks, 59. To know her was to trust her. She was strong, determined, outgoing and  adventurous with a contagious laugh and a heart of gold. And she never met an animal she didn’t love. Aug. 5.

Gen. (Ret.) James Joseph Lindsay, 90. He was an American soldier and born to lead American soldiers. The first commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and four-star general, who also led the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division on Fort Liberty. I was an American soldier, Gen. James J. Lindsay, would want us to know. I am an American soldier. I forever will be an American soldier. Aug. 6.

Bishop Eddie Lee Hightower, 67. A life journey marked by unwavering faith, boundless love and an unyielding commitment to the betterment of humanity. Aug. 8.

Theodore William “Ted” Mohn, 59. “Ted was for the right thing,” Cumberland County Commissioner Toni Stewart would remember the five-term Fayetteville City councilman. “Ted was for people that cared about moving the community forward.” Aug. 13.

Ramon Lyon Yarborough, 90.
“Mr. Yarborough always shared his personal philosophy with me of, ‘Service to humanity is the price we pay for life,’” said Tony Chavonne, general manager of Fayetteville Publishing Co. until his 2004 retirement, when he would become the city’s four-term mayor and today is publisher of CityView Today and CityView Magazine. “He believed it and he lived it. … His fingerprints are on display today through all the organizations and projects he supported, from Methodist University, the Cumberland Community Foundation and countless other organizations where he showed his love and commitment to this community. Through it all, his genuine love and commitment to the employees showed through to everyone that knew him. He was genuinely loved by every person who ever stepped through the doors at 458 Whitfield St. I can honestly say that I am a better man, a better husband and father, and a better person for having the blessed opportunity to work so closely with him for so many years. Our community lost a humble servant and a remarkable hero today.”

“Mourn not for me,” Ramon Yarborough, the old newspaper publisher, would wish us to know. “I’m with my Virginia, and she has been waiting for me long enough to be by her side and to hold her hand once more in mine.” Aug. 20.

Peggy Abbott White, 80. A Vance County girl who loved a husband of 62 years with all of her heart. He was her king. She was his queen. Sept. 3.

Stephen Dale Milburn, 68. “When I do something for someone, it gives me great joy,” Steve Milburn, owner of the UPS stores in Westwood Shopping, Hope Mills and Fort Liberty, said in 2021 when he was honored by CityView Magazine as a recipient of a Power of Giving Community Impact Award. “I feel good that I’ve accomplished something. I have to give back. I feel like it’s my duty. But I don’t consider myself anybody special. I’m just a citizen of Fayetteville who wants to help others.” Sept. 6.

Frances Loy Grimes, 100. A founding member of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, circa 1956, with a passion for the cello, the flute, the clarinet, the trumpet, the saxophone, the percussions and the strings of the violins, she leaves of “Legacy of Love” for generations of musicians to come. Sept. 13.

Timothy Horne Kinlaw, 71.
Associate Superintendent for Cumberland County Schools from 1993 to 2019, Tim Kinlaw wasn’t pretentious. He treated everyone in the school system with respect, and it made no difference if you were a principal, a veteran teacher or a first-year teacher or a cafeteria cook or a janitor buffing the hallways. “I can’t image Tim’s memorial service being anywhere else,” the Rev. Cameron McGill would say of the church overlooking the pier and the gentle and crystal-clear waters of White Lake that Tim Kinlaw called home and loved with all of his heart. Sept. 18.

Elder Curtis Worthy, 76.
“He loved his city and his neighborhood,” D.J. Haire, the dean of the Fayetteville City Council says about his longtime council colleague, who served nearly 10 years as the Dist. 7 representative. “A great husband, father of three and several grands. I’ll miss him.” Sept. 20.

Donald Hugh “Don” Orr, 92. Dedicated to his wife, children, grandchildren and Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, where he served as deacon, moderator, Sunday school teacher and compassionate friend to all. Sept. 20.

Robert “Bob” Emmet Bryan Jr., 89. He could tell a story with the best of them, and he could tell you a little something about everybody in Fayetteville. Sept. 22.

Janice Horner Melton, 77. Elegant and graceful with a heart for others and an unbridled compassion for the animals of the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society. Imagine, if only you can, when all of the animals she loved so dear saw Janice Melton on that glorious day at Rainbow Bridge, and the joy that filled Janice Melton’s heart. Nov. 1.

Dorothy Fay Hedgepeth. The “First Lady” of Northwood Temple with a love for teaching the Bible scriptures to all. And by the preacher’s side for 60 years. Nov. 2.

Chryl Gray Garrett-Weber, 69. Her illustrations, watercolors, pastels and oil paintings can be found in the living rooms, dens and walls of many Fayetteville homes. Soft-spoken, kind and with gentle ways all her days. Nov. 14.  

William Earl “Bill” Smith, 96. An Army veteran of good soul who was proud of his military medals and those countless N.C. Senior Games medallions around his neck. A life well lived from a man of good deeds. Nov. 15. 

Roger Morris Bedsole, 88. From businessman to county commissioner from 1980 to 1987 to the high sheriff’s office from 1987 to 1994. Nov. 27.

Hattie McNeill Bryant, 93. Kind, loving and wise. A mother to remember. Nov. 28.

Martin William Sternlicht, 91. A prince of a man if ever there was. Dec. 6.

Command Sgt. Major (Ret.) Pearlie Alston Jr., 82. An America soldier. A Christian soldier. Dec. 12.

Michael Dale Renegar, 73.
He was Gray and Avonell’s boy from Elmhurst in the Briarwood neighborhood, rooted for his beloved Carolina Tar Heels and the loved the girl from Autryville. Dec. 22.

 Ethel Ennis Massenburg, 69. Proud to be a pharmacist and always reaching out to others with her caring heart. Dec. 24.  

Jada Fields Jr., 47. A husband, father, grandfather, brother and son taken too soon on a Christmas morning. Dec. 25.

Patricia Fields, 46. A wife, mother, grandmother and daughter-in-law taken too soon on a Christmas morning. Dec. 25.

Joseph Wilson Twiddy, 81.
“As a teacher, assistant principal and principal, he enriched the lives of countless students, educators, staff and families,” Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr. would remember the retired county schools educator. “During his tenure, he played a pivotal role in opening three new schools in the school system. His legacy as an outstanding educator and his commitment to Cumberland County Schools and the broader community will always be remembered and cherished.” Dec. 25.

They were among the loved ones we lost in 2023, and there were others, too. Let us remember, they walked among us, and may they continue to be a living presence in our lives.

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

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