MSGT. BILLIE RAY LEE, U.S.A.F., retired, passed away Dec. 30, 2020, at the age of 81, in Wilmington, N.C. Bill was born in Blount County on Nov. 1, 1939, to Lamion Lee and Dorothy Sweatt Lee. The family lived on a farm in the area now known as Hamm Road in Blountsville. They attended Mountain Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Blountsville. He attended J.B. Pennington High School before marrying Betty Sue Herndon of Blountsville in 1956. Shortly after their marriage, Bill joined the U.S. Air Force and completed his education at San Rafael High School, San Rafael, Calif. He served for 20 years, retiring in February 1977 from Fort Fisher Air Force Station. Among his service awards is the Meritorious Service Medal, which is the highest ranking non-combat service award. After his retirement, he graduated in 1980 from Cape Fear Technical Institute with an associate degree in applied science – electronics technology. He taught electronics technology at both Cape Fear and Brunswick Community College and later retired with 20 years service. Bill was a member of Bible Baptist Church in Supply, N.C. After his last retirement, he enjoyed tinkering with anything that had a motor, spending time with his children and grandchildren, and traveling to Alabama for family reunions.
Bill is survived by his brother Hubert Lee and wife Pat of Cleveland, Ohio; wife Betty; and children Kayla Lee Williams and husband Rory, Kevin Ray Lee and wife Kim, and Donna Lee West and husband David; and grandchildren Katie and Cameron Lee, all of Wilmington. He also has many cousins and nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, brother Bobby Lee, and sister Doris Lee Workman.
Due to COVID-19, the funeral service held Jan. 6 was private. We were able to include extended family in the service by playing recordings of Dad’s favorite hymn, “In the Garden,” made by niece Karen Turley Buckelew (piano) and nephew Keith Martin (voice and guitar). These recordings provided great comfort to the family.
Graveside services were officiated by Pastor Chris Swiatocho and Dr. Gordon Wright Jr. Serving as pallbearers were Kevin and Cameron Lee, Jim Talton, Edward Warner, David West, and Rory Williams. Honorary pallbearers were Hubert, Greg, and Chris Lee, Keith Martin, and Glenn Turley. At the graveside, the funeral procession was greeted by four airmen from the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Honor Guard, Goldsboro, N.C. Two members of the firing party fired three round volleys, followed by the playing of “Taps.” The folding and presentation of the U.S. flag and shell casings to the family completed the military honors.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to be made to the Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina, 3809 Computer Drive, Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27609. Please leave online condolences at www.andrewsmortuary.com.
-obituary written by family