Summer of 1985: Deaths, birthdays and a new police chief

For the Record
Posted 10/9/20

The date printed on The Daily Record was Aug. 16, 1985, and shared that Thomas Laughton Williford Jr. took the oath of office as the new Coats Police chief.

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Summer of 1985: Deaths, birthdays and a new police chief


The date printed on The Daily Record was Aug. 16, 1985, and shared that Thomas Laughton Williford Jr. took the oath of office as the new Coats Police chief. Commissioner J.D. Norris swore him in. Others present for the ceremony were Coats Magistrate Verle Flowers, Commissioner Tim McKinnie, Mayor Godfrey T. Beasley, and Coats Police officers Curtis Jones, Glenn Fipps and Henry Hairr.

Mr. and Mrs. Tyson R. Cobb of Angier announced the engagement of their daughter, Tammy Marie Cobb, to Michael Steven Campbell of Coats (The Daily Record, Aug. 16, 1985).

Update on Steven Campbell — he is the pastor at Beulah Baptist Church in Johnston County and currently lives in the Bailey’s Crossroads area.

Have you noticed that more and more people are living past 100 years of age? Many of these individuals are veterans of World War II. The Aug. 20, 1985, edition wrote that J.W. Sorrell Sr. of Route 3, Dunn, celebrated his 97th birthday with some 60 relatives and friends.

Mr. Sorrell was a retired farmer and had been married to his wife, Nettie Ennis Sorrell, for 65 years. There were six living children, J.W. Sorrell Jr., the Rev. Charles Sorrell, Margie Raynor, Lunette S. Vaughn, Clara Bell Sorrell and Brookie S. West. The deceased children were Thurman, Kenneth and James Sorrell.

Mr. Sorrell was a World War I veteran and a member of the Dunn American Legion Post 59. He was a member of Hodges Chapel Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church.

I bet you recognize many of those names. How many of the following men do you know? James Grimes, president of the Grove Rural Fire District, honored Norfleet Gardner and William Coats. Mr. Gardner had served as the treasurer of Grove Rural Fire District and Mr. Coats served on the Rural Board (The Daily Record, Aug. 20, 1985).

Capt. Ned Baxter Ennis had recently received the Army’s Meritorious Service Medal at Fort Bragg for his outstanding performance of duty as an XVIII Airborne Corps G-3 Operation Officer and Company Commander of the Headquarters Company of the 82nd Airborne Division. Baxter was the son of Mrs. Preston Ennis and was married to the former Glenda Mitchell of Buies Creek (The Daily Record, Aug. 22, 1985).

How many of you have read Baxter’s book, “Leadership Matters.”

Death took Geraldine Langdon, 60, of Coats. She was survived by daughters, Hope Turlington, Connie Johnson and Rhonda Sheffield (The Daily Record, Aug. 27, 1985).

Phillip J. Bradley, vice president of BB&T in Coats, announced that Nelson Currin, well-known Coats developer, had been elected to the City Board of BB&T. Mr. Currin was  married to the former Coma Lee Coats of Angier. They had three children, Durane, Denise Matthews and Derek Currin (The Daily Record, Aug. 30, 1985).

Several obituaries were listed in the next two editions of The Daily Record. B. House, 87, had died in Rocky Mount. She was survived by a daughter, Mrs. Charles (Belle) Wheeler of Coats. Oliver C. Barbour, 83, a retired farmer from Benson, had died (The Daily Record, Sept. 2, 1985).

Kathryn P. Coats, 53, of Route 1, Angier, had died. She was survived by her husband, Lewis C. Coats; a daughter Brenda Sears; sons, Kenneth and Mitchell Coats; her mother, Mozelle Peed; and siblings, David Peed, Mrs. Joseph P. Andrews and Carol Dupree (The Daily Record, Sept. 11, 1985).

The Suggs surname is a popular one around Bailey’s Crossroads as is the Byrd name in Coats. Elgie Byrd Suggs of Coats had died at 54 years of age. She was survived by her husband, Earl Suggs; a daughter, Becky S. Williams; and sons, Richard and Randy Suggs. Mrs. Woodrow Norris and Josephine Kilgore were sisters (The Daily Record, Sept. 12, 1985).

I had the good fortune of teaching all three of Elgie and Earl’s children and have to note that they were amazing students. Actually, Ricky comes by to visit the museum when he is visiting from London.

Another name familiar to my household was Nettie Turner Turlington. After my mother-in-law died, my father-in-law would visit his relatives and former classmates who lived in the area. Mrs. Nettie had married a cousin and was one that he loved to visit and share memories.

Mrs. Nettie was honored at a family pig picking/reunion for her 91st birthday. She was the daughter of the late Elder William G. Turner and Cornelia Williams Turner. She had married the late Paul E. Turlington in 1915. She had three surviving children, Oscar Rolac, Paul Ensor and Isobel Turlington Wolf. “Granny,” as she was affectionately called, began her nursing career by taking a Red Cross nurses training during World War II so she could do her part (The Daily Record, Sept. 18, 1985).

The museum could not function without the continued generosity of friends of the museum. Johnny Byrd, owner of Quality Awning Co., recently placed gutter and downspout on the museum shelter. All the museum folks really thank you, Johnny, for doing this good deed.

Joey Tart was in my son’s wedding in Virginia Beach and Joey and Bryan have been friends since elementary school. Bryan and Liz Sorrell sent a generous memorial to the museum to honor Joey’s dad, Joe Tart.

Much gratitude goes to Ralph and Lorena Denning, Becky Adams, Peggy Robinson and friends at Mt. Pisgah and Bryan and Liz Sorrell and Hilda Pope for remembering my brother, Stacey Johnson Sr., with memorials to the Coats Museum.

Thank you to Becky Adams for also remembering her friend Edna Collier, who recently died.

The museum volunteers are humbled by the generosity of so many people who have a giving nature to remember or honor those special people in their lives. Your giving allows others to enjoy the museum and its collection of Coats history.


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