William Roy Edwards Jr., 90, WW II gunner, longtime Sears employee

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William Roy Edwards Jr.
William Roy Edwards Jr.

William Roy “Bill” Edwards, Jr., 90, passed away at his beach home in Surf City, N.C., on July 11, 2016, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Bill was born in Durham on Nov. 3, 1925. He graduated from Durham High School and attended both UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University. He proudly served his country during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps. At 17, he asked his father to sign a waiver to allow his early entrance to the Army, so eager he was to serve his country in World War II. But his father, who was disabled in World War I, denied his request. Determined, a year later Bill enlisted and served as a top turret gunner flying on a B-24 Liberator named “Alleyoop” flying out of Pantanella, Italy.

Bill was employed by Sears Roebuck, retiring after 39 years of service. Bill enjoyed living on the beach, tennis, golf and working out at the gym. He was best known for his love of his country, his southern heritage and his UNC Tar Heels. He proudly flew his “God Bless America and the Tar Heels Too!” banner every day at his home on Topsail Island. Bill’s 48 years of residence on the island led him to square off against Mother Nature on many occasions. He rode out three hurricanes in his oceanfront home in Surf City. When Hurricane Fran made landfall in 1996, Bill became an impromptu reporter heard on radio stations across the United States.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, William Roy and Lorena Lyon Edwards; his sister, Betty Edwards Cooke; and his wife, Ruth Furgurson.

He is lovingly remembered by his daughters, Debbie Haggerty (John) of Rocky Mount and Cathy Coulter (Chuck Sullivan) of Charlotte, and his son, Johnny Edwards (Stephanie) of Jetersville, Virginia. He was blessed to have seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews, who to him were just like his own children.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, July 15, 2016, at Faith Harbor Methodist Church, 14201 NC 50, Surf City, with the Rev. Neil McHenry officiating. Viewing will be held one hour prior to the service. Family members will greet friends at the church following the service, and at other times at Bill’s residence.

Interment will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 16, 2016, at Maplewood Cemetery, 1621 Duke University Road, Durham.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Faith Harbor Methodist Church or to the Flightline Newsletter of the 780th Bombardment Squadron of WWII at Flightline, 1004 Williams Blvd., Springfield, Illinois 62704-2832, ATTN: Kathy LeComte.