Dr. William Stafford Joyner , a longtime family physician in Chapel Hill and clinical professor of medicine at UNC, died on Saturday afternoon, April 8, at his home at the Croasdaile Village retirement community in Durham, after a prolonged decline in his health. He was 92 years old.
Joyner was born and grew up in Kernersville, NC, the third of his parents’ five children and a member of a large clan that had resided in the Winston-Salem area since Colonial days.
Despite the turbulence of the Depression years, he had a happy, active childhood, excelling as a choirboy at Kernersville Moravian Church, an athlete and student in the Kernersville schools, and the undisputed “best whistler in Kernersville.”
In 1943, after his freshman year at Davidson College, he was inducted into the United States Army, assigned first to the Army Specialized Training Program at The Citadel, and upon dissolution of that program to the 100th Infantry Division, for training at Fort Bragg.
In early September 1944, three months after his older brother, Oscar, had been killed in France days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, Joyner shipped out with the 100th to Marseille. He took part in fighting as an infantry sergeant until the end of the war, through eastern France and into Germany, and was awarded two Bronze Stars for valor in combat.
Immediately after the war Joyner taught at the Shrivenham American University for G.I.s in England before returning to Davidson, where he graduated summa cum laude and class salutatorian in 1948.
Upon graduation, he married his Kernersville childhood sweetheart, Jane Linville, and they moved to Chapel Hill, where he entered UNC Medical School, then just a two-year program, and again graduated as class salutatorian. He completed his clinical medical studies at Harvard University, receiving the MD degree there in 1952.
Returning to Chapel Hill, Joyner was a resident physician on the first house staff at UNC Memorial Hospital, having been recruited by his UNC mentor Dr. William MacNider.
After completing his residency in 1954, he joined Drs. Fred Patterson and Kempton Jones in a general family practice, first in a converted chicken coop behind Dr. Patterson’s mother’s boarding house on Franklin Street (now the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house), and then, for 30 years, off Raleigh Road, in Glen Lennox, current site of the Aloft Hotel.
Throughout his career, Joyner was also a highly active leader in Chapel Hill civic, religious, and cultural life. Among many such roles over the years, he was chairman of the town’s Human Relations Committee in the early 1960s, president of the UNC Wesley Foundation in the late 1960s, and president of the Chapel Hill Rotary Club.
Originally a member of University Methodist Church, he and his wife were among a group of people sent out by that church in 1957 to found Aldersgate Methodist, on the southeastern side of town. They served Aldersgate in various capacities for many years, before returning to University Methodist in the 1990s.
Joyner and his wife moved from Chapel Hill to Durham in 1999, to be among the first residents of the Croasdaile Village retirement community. There, they were active in helping to foster cultural life, especially in the creation of a substantial community library.
Jane Linville Joyner died at Croasdaile in 2002, and the library is named for her.
In 2014, Joyner was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, in recognition of his meritorious service in France in World War II.
He is survived by a sister, Marian Myers of Martinsville, VA; three children and their spouses—Will Joyner and Linda Jones, of Newton, MA; Matt and Betsy Joyner of Charlotte; and Jane (Joyner) and Rex Kaney of Decatur, GA; and nine grandchildren—Julia Alexander Caldwell (Rick) of Atlanta; Johanna Alexander of Paris, France; Luke Joyner of Chicago; Alec Joyner of New York City; Carolina and Compton Jones of Newton, MA; and Anna Claire, Matthew, and Oscar Joyner of Charlotte. Also surviving is his special friend of recent years, Patricia Coman.
The family would like to recognize and thank the entire staff of Croasdaile Village, particularly of Friendship House Assisted Living Unit, for their compassionate care for Dr. Joyner.
A service in celebration of the life of William S. Joyner will be held at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 (parking in Chapel Hill municipal lots), with reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the library fund at Croasdaile Village, 2600 Croasdaile Farm Pkway, Durham NC 27705, or to the music ministry at University United Methodist Church, 150 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC. Online condolences for the family may be communicated at www.cremationsocietync.com.