Robert Henkel Spilman, Sr. ’50, of Richmond, Va., formerly of Bassett, Va., died peacefully on Nov. 15. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jane Bassett Spilman, 967 Dover Farm Rd., Manakin Sabot, VA 23103-3034; his children, Robert H. Spilman, Jr. (Nancy), Virginia Spilman Perrin (Coleman), and Vance H. Spilman (Beth); and nine grandchildren, Forrest Perrin, Coles Perrin, Whit Perrin, Anne Spilman, Ginny Spilman, Robert Spilman, Janie Spilman, Vance Spilman, and Campbell Spilman; as well as a host of nieces and nephews and many beloved friends. Spilman was born in Knoxville, Tenn., and served briefly in WWII in the U.S. Army Infantry Division. He later attended Davidson and graduated from the Engineering School of North Carolina State University with a degree in textiles. He served as an officer in the 82nd Airborne during the Korean Conflict and then as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was the retired chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Bassett Furniture Industries. He served on numerous corporate boards including Dominion Resources, Dominion Energy, Jefferson-Pilot Corporation, NationsBank Corporation, International Home Furnishings Center, The Pittston Company, Trinova Corporation, United Investment Trust, and Virginia Business Council. Spilman served on the boards of trustees of academic institutions in Virginia and North Carolina, including the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, N.C. State University, Appalachian State University, Virginia Military Institute, Old Dominion University, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and the State Council of Higher Education. He also served as chairman of Virginia Port Authority and was instrumental in the unification of the ports of Norfolk and Hampton Roads. He was publicly recognized many times during his life, including being honored by the Anti-Defamation League, Humanitarian of the Year (City of Hope Hospital, Los Angeles), and three-time winner of the Wall Street CEO Award of Furniture Industry. He was the recipient of the American furniture industry’s highest honor, the James T. Ryan Statesman of Commerce Award. In 1989 he was named Virginia’s Outstanding Industrialist. He was appointed to the Virginia-Israel Commission by Governor Baliles and served on Virginia’s Economic Advisory Council under Governors Baliles and Robb. Spilman was a true gentleman and fierce competitor in business, on the golf course, in the trout stream, and around the gin rummy table. He dearly loved his family and his multitude of friends and never hesitated to offer words of wisdom to those around him. He was one of the few two-time Billfish Masters Tournament champions, conducted annually by the Sailfish Club of Palm Beach, Fla. He traveled the world in search of red-legged partridge, bonefish, and good cigars, and never stopped enjoying the challenge of his next adventure.
Homer Allen “Al” Lanier ’51, 80, died Nov. 9, 2009, in Jacksonville, Fla. He was born in Southport, N.C., son of the late Homer Roscoe and Mildred Bennett Lanier. He was retired from a major transportation company as division chief of police and the U.S. Army as field artillery major. He was a lifelong Presbyterian, having served as deacon, elder, and Sunday school teacher at South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church. Lanier was a Mason, past president of the Civitan Club of Jacksonville, and distinguished governor of Civitan International Summit District. He was a member of the Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, and Peace Officers Associations of South Carolina and Georgia. He is survived by his current wife, Janet B. Lanier, 809 Twin Lakes Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29732-9685; his three children, David Allen Lanier, Susan Lanier Cooper, and Millie Lanier Turek; eight grandchildren, Brian and Sara Cooper, Janis, Catherine, and Andrew Lanier, Lauren Laws, Kristen Baucom, and Savannah Turek; two brothers, Julian E. Lanier and Lawrence E. Lanier; and a sister, Jane Lanier Knight. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Loetia “Bunny” Holland Lanier.
John D. Warlick ’60, of Kings Mountain, N.C., died Nov. 4. A native of Kings Mountain, he was the son of the late Charles Ervin and Madge Patterson Warlick. He was preceded in death by two brothers, Charles Ervin “Bud” Warlick, Jr. and George Hunter Warlick. Warlick graduated from Davidson and served in the Army Security Agency during the Korean War. For 42 years he was a partner in the C.E. Warlick Insurance Agency, later known as Warlick and Hamrick Associates. He was active in Central United Methodist Church, where he served as past chairman of the administrative board, in the choir, and on many committees. Warlick learned to play bridge at age eight and began playing tournament bridge at 17. In 1958, he achieved the ranking of gold life master in the American Contract Bridge League. He also enjoyed golf and tennis. Survivors include his wife, Rheta Gamble Shytle Warlick, 903 Sherwood Ln., Kings Mountain, NC 28086-2753; two daughters, Robin Warlick Elder (David) and J.J. Warlick Holshouser (Warren); four stepchildren, Debbie Poland (Mike), Andy Shytle (Bernie), Beth Pierce, and Bill Shytle (Deb); 15 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
George William Crawford ’29, of Statesville, N.C., died Nov. 3 at his home at the age of 103. Crawford was born Oct. 21, 1906, and was the son of the late John Clifton and Mary Niblock Crawford of the Chambersburg (Bethany) township of Iredell County. He completed Davidson with honors, earned his master’s degree at UNC Chapel Hill, and later his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.
In 1940, he was called into service during World War II and served as lieutenant colonel of infantry in the European Theater as a member of the First U.S. Army Headquarters. He took part in Normandy, Central European, and Rhineland campaigns, being awarded six ribbons and three campaign stars.
On May 19, 1934, George married Frances Knox of Cornelius, who died Aug. 21, 1991. They had no children but both chose to educate children. She taught first grade, and he served as a professor of physics at N.C. State University, Davidson College, and The College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Va.). He retired from William and Mary, and they named him professor emeritus of physics. He cherished the title of “professor.”
In addition to enjoying teaching, he had many interests and hobbies, including forms of woodworking (marquetry and furniture making). Until he was nearly 100, he shared his knowledge of astronomy through articles and star charts published in the Statesville Record & Landmark.
A lifelong Presbyterian, Crawford has served his church as a deacon, elder, and teacher and on many committees. Until recently, he rarely missed Sunday worship at Forest Park.
He is survived by a nephew, Robert C. Crawford, and by nieces, Agnes C. Mayes, 849 Old Mocksville Rd., Statesville, NC 28625; Mary Frances C. Holland; Sara C. Wolfson; and Betty Crawford.
In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Fred N. Crawford, Sr., James A. Crawford, and Thomas N. Crawford, and by a nephew, Fred N. Crawford, Jr. He is also survived by several great- and great-great-nieces and nephews, whom he adored.
Mr. John Robert DeMarra Jr., 49, of 144 Bobwhite Drive, Reidsville died suddenly at Annie Penn Hospital on Monday, November 2, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. Mr. DeMarra was born June 25, 1960 in Alamance County, N.C. He was a graduate of Williams High School and Guilford College. Survivors include his wife, Faith Baynes DeMarra of the home; stepson, Christopher Baynes of Reidsville; three stepgrandsons, Javen, Zamari and Karlo; parents, John R. “Jack” DeMarra Sr. and Gloria Matkins DeMarra of Burlington; a sister, Janie DeMarra of Mebane; two nieces and several cousins.The funeral service will be conducted at the Rich & Thompson Chapel in Burlington on Friday, November 6, at 2 p.m. by the Rev. Ben Alexander. Burial will be held in Evergreen Memory Garden, U.S. 158 West, Reidsville, N.C.
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