June 10, 1920-Jan, 9, 2006
GOLDSBORO -- William Archie Dees Jr., 85, died early Monday at Wayne Memorial Hospital.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 1101 E. Ash St., following a private burial at Willow Dale Cemetery.
Dees was the senior partner in the law firm Dees, Smith, Powell, Jarrett, Dees & Jones, and continued working even from his hospital bed as late as December 2005.
Dees was born in Goldsboro June 10, 1920, to William Archie Dees and May Smith Dees. He was an avid sportsman, excelling in track and field as a student at Goldsboro High School. Under his guidance, the Student Association at Goldsboro High School was formed and he was elected that organization's first president. He was selected "Most Likely to Succeed" by his classmates.
Dees entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in September 1937. He joined Sigma Nu fraternity and was also a member of the freshman track team. During his sophomore year he was elected to the Order of the Grail and during his junior year was tapped into the Order of the Golden Fleece. He was president of both organizations during his senior year at Carolina. Also during his sophomore year he was elected president of the North Carolina Federation of Students, a statewide interschool student government association. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1941.
A day after his graduation from UNC, Dees enlisted in the Navy. Following midshipman training, he volunteered to participate in the Navy's newly developed bomb disposal program, training in the United States and in England. There he worked with British bomb disposal squads after the German air raids. He later traveled to Australia and the Philippines and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for supervising the removal of more than 600,000 pounds of enemy and U.S. explosives from critical military areas in the Southwest Pacific.
After the war ended, Dees enrolled in law school at UNC and graduated in 1948. In June of that year, he returned to Goldsboro and began practicing law with his father under the firm name of Dees and Dees, Attorneys at Law.
In 1950 he was appointed to the Goldsboro Board of Aldermen to fill an unexpired term. Afterward he was elected to three regular terms and served a total of seven years.
In 1963, Gov. Terry Sanford appointed Dees to the N.C. Board of Higher Education, a board charged with planning all higher education programs in the state. Dees served two years, the second as chairman.
Also in 1963, Dees was appointed to the Goldsboro City Board of Education. In 1964 he became chairman of the school board and remained in that position until 1972. Those nine years were critical in the development of an equal public education system for all students in North Carolina, and compliance with the regulations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act took a great deal of time. Dees' involvement on the local level led him to work with the N.C. School Boards Association, serving on the board of directors and as legislative chairman.
In 1969, Senator Lindsay C. Warren Jr., a fellow Goldsboro lawyer, nominated him to the Board of Trustees of the Consolidated University, the old board of more than 100 members that governed the six campuses of what was called the Greater University. Dees was elected, and later that years was elected to the board's executive committee.
During the early 1970s, when the state's higher education system was reorganized into our present-day 16-campus University system, Dees was elected to its original Board of Governors. He served as vice chairman under Governor Bob Scott and became the Board's first elected chairman six months later by a unanimous vote. Those were complicated times for education, and Dees traveled the state making speeches and listening to others' ideas in an attempt to find solutions that were acceptable to all parties involved.
Also during that time, Dees was invited to speak at one of the annual meetings of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and later served that organization as director and treasurer. As a member of AGB's mentor program, he traveled to different states meeting with trustees and administrators, helping them analyze and solve their problems. In 1984 Dees was named recipient of the AGB Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Service in College and University Trusteeship, a national award considered the highest honor that can be awarded to a college or university trustee.
During a 1990 interview recalling Dees' tenure on the UNC Board of Governors, former UNC-CH Secretary John P. Kennedy Jr. said: "Bill Dees, like George Washington in the early days of the Republic, was the one person who was acceptable to all. He was not then, nor later, the best orator on the board, nor the most dazzling debater, but whatever he said, in his quiet way, carried enormous weight because of his honesty and integrity. How fortunate for the state that we had such a person available in those first difficult years."
During a November 1990 ceremony, Dees was honored as the recipient of the University Award, the highest award bestowed by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.
In addition, Dees served on the Board of Governors of the N.C. Bar Association and as chairman of the original Bar Notes committee, which edited the Association's publication. He is also a former president of the District Bar Association.
Active in the First Presbyterian Church of Goldsboro, he has served as superintendent of the Sunday School, as Elder and as adult Sunday School teacher.
In 1988 he received the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Torhunta District of the Boy Scouts of America, and in the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce named him recipient of its Cornerstone Award, the organization's highest honor.
Dees was preceded in death by his first wife, Ozello Woodward Dees, and a sister, Ann Dees Dees.
Dees (better known as "Big Bill" to his family) is survived by his wife, Patricia Turlington Dees; a sister, Sara Dees Fonvielle of Goldsboro; a son, John Woodward Dees and wife Georgia, of Goldsboro; daughters Mahala Dees Myrick and husband Mike of Greenville; and Alice Dees Crabtree and husband Steve of Chapel Hill; two stepsons: Dr. William Turlington and wife Angel of Clayton and David Turlington and wife Connie of Durham; seven grandchildren: Jay Dees and wife Meg of Salisbury; Martha D. Baur and husband Carson of St. Louis, Mo.; Charlie Dees of Goldsboro; Melanie M. Spainhour and husband Adam of Fuquay-Varina; David Myrick and wife Megan of Seattle, Wash.; Wes Myrick of Greenville; and Will Crabtree of Chapel Hill; Quinn Turlington, Eli Turlington, Sutton Black of Clayton and Katrina Barker of Raleigh; six great grandchildren: Archie Dees, Maggie Dees, Jane Baur, Anna Scott Baur, Hannah Spainhour and Sara Spainhour; Memorial contributions may be made to either the W. A. Dees Family Scholarship, Wayne Community College Foundation, CB# 8002, Goldsboro, N.C. 27533-8003; or the W. A. Dees Jr. Memorial Fund, UNC Law School, 100 Ridge Road, CB#3380, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599.
The family will receive friends in McChesney Hall of First Presbyterian Church following the memorial service Friday and at other times at the home of Patricia Turlington Dees, 709 Park Ave., and at the home of John and Georgia Dees, 707 E. Mulberry St.
(Written & Paid by the Family)
Published in Obituaries on January 10, 2006 2:15 PM