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Donald Lee ‘Don’ Harley, 89, retired from General Parts Inc.

Donald Lee ‘Don’ Harley

WILMINGTON — Donald Lee “Don” Harley, 89, born Aug. 14, 1931, peacefully passed away Friday afternoon, May 28, 2021.

He lived a wonderful and fulfilling life. He was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey, to his mother and father, Mary Alf Harley and Frederick L. Harley. There, he grew up on a farm near Chestertown with his cousin Mary Anne Bungerz and grandmother during World War II. He later attended and graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1950. He then attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in political science with the enduring trait of being a fine salesman.

Don served as a midshipmen in the Naval ROTC at UNC and also became a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He would ultimately receive his commission in the Naval Reserve after his graduation from UNC. In his senior year at college, Don met his true love Marylou Watson. They were married in 1955 and after serving as a commander on the Lake Champlain Aircraft Carrier, the couple moved to Raleigh in 1957.

Don began his business career in Raleigh as a salesman for the Burroughs Corporation from 1957 to 1963. After which, he and his neighbor Dave Roger started a computer service bureau, which operated by purchasing time on Cameron Brown’s Mortgage Company’s mainframe computer and doing payroll for various customers. There were only two computers existing in Raleigh at the time. In 1968, the two men merged their company American Data Processing with University Computer Company (UCC) to be traded on the NYSE. After this endeavor, Don began his career in commercial real estate and established the Harley Real Estate Group, which he owned and operated until 1990. At this point, he began to develop warehouse and distribution sites nationwide for General Parts Inc. He worked there until he retired in 1995.

Throughout his career, Don was able to stay active in numerous organizations in Raleigh. He was a member of the Lions Club, a Rotarian, and Terpsichorean Club member. He was on the board of the Raleigh Rescue Mission and attended the Bible Study Fellowship. As strong Christians, Don and his wife Marylou were members of the Edenton Street United Methodist Church, as was the rest of the family. There, and at the Carolina Country Club, Don and his family would meet a lifetime of friends.

Don and Marylou loved to take their family to a house they found along side Fisherman’s Creek Marina in Harkers Island. There, they would take the “Prime Property” ( a 28 foot Bertram) out to the “Hook,” or to Shackleford Banks, and spend the day swimming, fishing, exploring or napping. They quickly became friends with neighbors, Don and Jean Enderle, Charlie and Jean Watkins, Swain and Jane Stephenson and their families. Simple and fun times for all who spent time there and always a table full of freshly caught seafood. “Best you ever et.”

Don was preceded in death by his parents, Frederick and Mary, Miome Harley, and his wife, Marylou Harley, who was a wonder and good sport that had courageously battled cancer; daughter, Mary Coleman, and her husband, Greg Barbour; and cousins, Bill and Larry Alf and Sissy Skaggs; brother-in-law, Penn Watson, and his wife, Elgiva Watson.

He is survived by his sisters, Gail Harley McQuay, and her husband, Jesse Buck McQuay, and Eileen Harley Morris; daughter, Katherine Watson Harley-Wyatt, and her husband, John Wyatt, of Apex; son, Donald Lee Harley Jr., and his wife, Luci Harley, of Wilmington; daughter, Louisa Harley Garvey, and her husband, Jim Garvey, of Raleigh; eight grandchildren, Jonathan Monroe, Alton Barbour, Daniel Barbour, Mary Virginia York, Emily Watson Garvey, Samuel James Garvey, Donald Lee Harley III and Robert Burns Harley; four great-grandchildren, Kiara and Avari Barbour, Ennon Barbour and Nolan York; and special friend, Betty Gross.

A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, June 4, at Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Raleigh Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army or Wrightsville Beach United Methodist Church.

Services provided by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Raleigh.

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