01/12/10 — JOHN R. LANE JR.

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Sept. 9, 1945-Jan. 3, 2010

WILMINGTON -- John Robert Lane Jr., Wilmington and Sampson County, was born Sept. 9, 1945, in Goldsboro and died unexpectedly at Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn Jan. 3 near his second home, Oak Grove Plantation on the Mingo in Sampson County.

Bob's experiences at St. James Episcopal Church were meaningful experience for him. A memorial service will be conducted there Sunday at 2 p.m. A private internment will be conducted during the spring in the garden he designed and implemented at his Oak Grove Plantation cabin.

Bob was the son of John Robert and Ella Mae Lane of Mount Olive.

He attended Mount Olive schools, Mount Olive College, East Carolina University and Wilmington College, and studied art under Claude Howell, a lifelong friend.

Artist, genealogist, scholar and lover of nature, flowers and herbs, Bob Lane was a man of many talents and avid interests. During childhood, he opened an antique shop and museum in his family's cabin and served as president of the Confederate Gray's Chapter of Children of the Confederacy.

Bob had lived in Wilmington since 1965. He served as a merchandise presentation manager at Belk-Beery Department Store for 38 years. The first few years he worked under S. O. Guyton, then took over when Mr. Guyton retired. Bob was responsible for many of the antique-centered displays and memorable picture windows that drew people to Chestnut Street during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Bob's community service projects were numerous. He served on the North Carolina Azalea Festival Art Show committee and was director and designer of the Azalea Festival Queen's Coronation Pageant.

He was a founder and first beautification chairman of the Residents of Old Wilmington, a member of the board of directors and vice president of the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, chairman of the Latimer House committee for many years and registrar of the Lower Cape Fear Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

In addition, he established the Wilmington Herb Guild.

Bob was a member-at-large of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and helped reorganize the George Davis Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He was registrar and vice president of the Sons of the American Revolution in the state of North Carolina and was a member of the North Carolina Society of the War of 1812 and the Old New Hanover County Genealogical Society.

Bob served as president of Moore's Creek National Battleground Association. He and Bob Warren created the concept of the "Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour" and worked to promote and execute the tour for 11 years. They opened their home on S. Fifth Avenue many times for this event that benefited the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society.

Bob Lane was one of the original pioneers of historic preservation in the city of Wilmington and the state of North Carolina. He served as general consultant for the restoration of the Bellamy Mansion and as consultant-at-large for the Bellamy Mansion.

He was consultant for the Latimer House Gardens and the Historic Wilmington Foundation exhibit, "Wilmington Furniture, 1720-1860."

Bob was an adviser for Cape Fear Museum's exhibit on the cultural history of the Lower Cape Fear and for the Reredos Preservation Project during the 275th anniversary of St. James Episcopal Church.

After Bob retired from Belk-Beery, he and Bob Warren opened J. Robert Warren Antiques, located in the historic Hogg-Anderson House on Orange Street in Wilmington.

Bob Lane was host at his home to many wonderful people including Wendell Garrett, editor of The Magazine Antiques; Bill Blass; Gloria Vanderbilt; Rudy Favretti; Bill Seale; and the mayor of Dandong, China.

Bob Lane and Bob Warren treasured their close ties to many dear departed friends and true Old Wilmington characters, including William Whitehead, Claude Howell, Dr. Charles Graham, Betty Divine, Dame Catherine Carpenter, Emma Bellamy Williamson Hendren and Gladys Taylor. Like them and many before them, Bob Lane is now part of the posthumous essence of genuine Old Wilmington.

Bob was a fan and friend of Archibald Rutledge, poet laureate of the state of South Carolina. He visited Rutledge at his home and championed his writings, particularly the little book, "Life's Extras." One of Bob's favorite Rutledge quotes was, "Believing in a God of infinite love and of infinite power, I find it natural to believe that death is not a disastrous sundown but rather a spiritual sunrise, ushering in the unconjectured splendors of immortality."

Genealogically, Bob Lane and Bob Warren were collateral descendants of Richard and Catherine Kenan Holmes Price, builders of their residence on S. Fifth Avenue. Through them, the 1840 dwelling has remained in the same family to this day, and has been shared through tours and numerous publications.

Bob Lane was proud of his genealogy. He was a descendant of the Basse family of 17th-century Virginia. When one of his Basse ancestors married a Native American, he became famous as one of two early American settlers to embark on a Prayer Book documented union -- the other one being John Rolfe, who married Pocahontas. Bob Lane was a 10th generation North Carolinian and a member of the Order of the First Families of North Carolina.

Bob's aunt, Ruby Thomas, lived on Jamestown Island and helped give him a deep understanding of the history of Jamestown and Williamsburg. Bob Lane and Bob Warren visited the area every year for four decades.

Bob Lane celebrated existence to its fullest every day and his zest for life has inspired many. His personality is irreplaceable. Repeating a phrase coined by his aunt, Peggy Douglas, "Rather than meeting him, you encountered him."

Bob is survived by Bob Warren, his friend and partner of 43 years.

Memorials may be made to St. James Episcopal Church, 25 So. Third St., Wilmington, N.C., 28401, or Moore's Creek National Battlefield, 40 Patriot's Hall Drive, Currie, N.C., 28435.

Arrangements are by Skinner and Smith Funeral Home of Dunn.

Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.skinnerandsmith.com.


Published in Obituaries on January 12, 2010 1:46 PM