LILLINGTON — Mr. Billy Ray Matthews, 93, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, at his home.
He was born in Harnett County, the son of the late Leslie Matthews Sr. and Bessie Ennis Matthews. Billy Ray was also preceded in death by his stepmother, Elizabeth L. Matthews; and brother, Charles Eugene Matthews.
He was an active member of Lillington Baptist Church where he served as a deacon, sang in the choir, and valued his membership in the Simmons Sunday School Class. Billy Ray had a real passion for history and was known as the local historian. He served the community with his dry-cleaning business for over 50 years. After retiring, he managed Lakeside Memorial Gardens in Angier for many years. Billy Ray was an avid golfer, talented athlete and enjoyed all types of sports. He was a charter member of the Heart of Harnett Playhouse with a real love for the theater. He loved family and friends deeply. Billy Ray lived his life with open arms to everyone and never met a stranger. In his latter years, Billy Ray’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought him great joy and pleasure.
Billy Ray is survived by his wife of 74 years, Mary Lou Byrd Matthews of the home; daughter, Debby M. Ryan and husband David of Wilmington; son, Danny R. Matthews and wife Susan of Supply; five grandchildren, Matthew Clark and wife Jenny of San Diego, California, Anna Murphy and husband Ryan of Wilmington, Brian Matthews and wife Ginny of Fuquay-Varina, Lauren Smith and husband Chris of Wilmington, and Kaley Bowers and husband Michael of Raleigh; seven great-grandchildren, Madeline, Mason, Seth, Claire, William, Callie and Lennon; sister, Becky Ferrell and husband Landis of Raleigh; brother, Leslie Matthews Jr. and wife Tunisia of Suffolk, Virginia; sister-in-law, Sue Long Matthews of Ocala, Florida; and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Lillington Baptist Church with the Rev. Daniel Selman officiating. The family will receive friends in the church sanctuary Saturday from 1 to 1:45 p.m. and other times at the home. Friends are invited to visit O’Quinn-Peebles-Phillips Funeral Home Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, from 8:30 a.m. until noon to pay their respects and sign the register book. The family will not be present during this time. A private burial will be held at Westview Cemetery in Lillington.
Flowers will be appreciated, or memorials may be made to Lillington Baptist Church, P.O. Box 670, Lillington, NC 27546 or Boys and Girls Home of NC, P.O. Box 127, Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450.