William N. Fowler, Sr.

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2024

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COLERAIN – William “Bill” Newton Fowler, Sr. passed away peacefully on March 18, 2024, at the age of 96. He was born on March 12, 1928, in Charlotte, North Carolina to John Henry Fowler, Sr. and Ethel Nancy Whitaker Fowler. He had two sisters, Dorothy and Betty Jean, and three brothers, Holbert, Furman, and John Henry Fowler, Jr.

After graduating from Charlotte Central High School, Bill attended N.C. State University on a baseball scholarship. He was the captain of the baseball team for two years, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in math education. During his time as a student at N.C. State, Bill played semi-professional baseball for Colerain in the Albemarle League in the summers of 1947, 1948, and 1949.

Bill took ROTC training for four years in college, and he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. From 1952 to 1953, Bill served as a first lieutenant in the Korean War (U.S. Army, 25th Infantry Division, Quartermaster Company). He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Korean War Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal. Before and after his military service, he played professional baseball for Raleigh and Fayetteville in the Carolina League.

Bill married Hazel Montague Sessoms in September 1953. They were married until Hazel’s death in 2010. Bill and Hazel loved celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays with their children and grandchildren. At his family birthday parties, Bill always looked forward to eating several slices of the yellow cake with chocolate icing that Hazel made for him each year.

Bill and Hazel enjoyed taking their children on yearly trips around the United States. One of their most memorable trips was to Yellowstone National Park.

After getting married, Bill earned a master’s degree and an advanced principal’s and superintendent’s degree from East Carolina University. He went on to receive a doctorate in education. At the beginning of his teaching career, Bill taught at Colerain High School for five years. He was the principal of Harrellsville High School for two years, and he served as the principal of Colerain Elementary School for twelve years. Before his retirement, he was the principal of Colerain and West Colerain Elementary Schools for sixteen years.

Bill was an active member of the Colerain United Methodist Church. He served as the chairman of the administrative council, and he was the church lay leader and the superintendent of the Sunday school program.

Bill was a member of the Colerain Lion’s Club, and he served on the Colerain Town Council. He was a director of the Cashie Golf and Country Club. In 1978, he organized Colerain’s first tennis tournament.

Bill’s family will remember him as an engaging storyteller who loved to tell exciting and humorous stories from his past. He loved making his grandchildren laugh. He particularly enjoyed telling stories of his trip to New York City in 1946, where he represented North and South Carolina in the “Brooklyn Against the World” baseball series and met the cast of “Oklahoma” on Broadway.

In his later years, Bill particularly enjoyed tennis and woodworking. He participated in tennis tournaments at the Senior Games, and he built beautiful birdhouses, picnic tables, and toy chests for his children and grandchildren. He was especially proud to have built a two-story garage.

On a family trip with Carla in 2011, Bill was elated to fulfill a lifelong dream of walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. He always said that he wanted to walk across the bridge that he first went under on a boat on the way to serve in Korea.

Bill is survived by his children, William Newton Fowler, Jr. (Rachelle “Shelley”) of Greenville, NC and Carla Fowler Gibbons (Bruce) of Apex, NC. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Emily Fowler, Brittany Claire Fowler, Bryan Gibbons, and Rachel Gibbons.

The family would like to thank the countless loved ones, friends, neighbors, healthcare workers, and all those who helped Bill throughout his life and in his later years.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. on March 24, 2024, at Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service, 205 NC Highway 42 West, Ahoskie, NC 27910. Visitation will be held before the funeral from 12:45-1:45 p.m. After the funeral, burial will take place at Hillcrest Cemetery in Colerain.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Bill’s memory to the Colerain Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 247, Colerain, NC 27924, or you may donate online by visiting www.tmcfunding.com/search; type William Fowler.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down, we will have a house in Heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service of Ahoskie is serving the Fowler family and online condolences can be directed to them by visiting www.garrettsykesfs.com.