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Jan. 3, 1924-May 6, 2014

Robert "Bob" Miller Heyward Sr., 90, passed away peacefully into the kingdom of heaven Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

He was born in Goldsboro, N.C., Jan. 3, 1924, son of the late George Salley Heyward Sr. and Victoria LeMay Dewey Heyward.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 56 years, Frances "Frankie" Sugg Heyward of Princeton, N.C.; brothers, George "Stump" Salley Jr., Francis "Pete" Dewey, James "Jabie" Smith, Thomas "Tinker" LeMay and Millard "Mickey" Mial; and his sister, Elizabeth "Betsy" Brownrigg Heyward Kepler.

As a devoted and loving family man, a huge void is left for his surviving children, Patricia "Patty" McDonald (Tod) and grandson, Beau, of Wilmington, N.C., Robert "Bobby" Miller Heyward Jr. (Charlene) and grandchildren, Madison and Miller, of Louisville, Ky., Craig Rhett Heyward and granddaughter, Lara, of Wilmington, N.C., and Brent Barnwell Heyward (Felicia) and grandchildren, Kristina and Austin of Raleigh, N.C.

He also shared a special relationship with Frankie's siblings, whom he considered his own brothers and sisters, Bill Joe Sugg, Anne Louise Woodard, Raymond Massey Sugg and Nancy Sugg Smith.

Additionally, there are many nieces, nephews and grandnieces and nephews whom he loved dearly.

Raised in Goldsboro, N.C., Bob graduated from Goldsboro High School in 1941.

He was involved in many extracurricular activities such as becoming an Eagle Scout, playing football and winning state championships in swimming and diving.

He entered North Carolina State University, studying mechanical engineering until his 18th birthday, at which time he volunteered to join the Army Air Corps to defend his country during World War II. To his delight, he became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot, and served with the 14th Air Force "Flying Tigers."

He completed 13 missions, and received several awards, including the Asiatic Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the American Theater Campaign Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal and the Victory Medal.

After the war, Bob re-entered North Carolina State while working in tobacco warehouses and roughnecking in the oil fields of Louisiana during the summers for the father of a World War II buddy.

Being ever involved, he served as president of Kappa Sigma fraternity, and competed on the varsity swimming and diving teams.

During this time, he met his future bride, Frankie, on a double date, although they were dating other people. That situation soon changed as their love began to grow.

A life-changing career opportunity presented itself in 1950 with Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. (B&W) in Louisville, Ky. He once again left North Carolina State (and temporarily the love of his life, Frankie) and moved to Louisville before convincing her to join him about a year later.

They began a lifetime of love with marriage there Feb. 16, 1952. There was never any doubt that she was the center of his world from that moment forward. For the next 30 years, they lived in Louisville, providing a wonderful childhood and example of how to live a life full of love and meaning for their four children.

Semi-annual trips back to North Carolina further instilled the importance of family. Annual Labor Day picnics at their home for several special families cemented lifelong friendships. Horseback riding, trampoline jumping, creek wading, North Carolina-style barbecue and homemade ice cream ruled the day.

Strongly believing in the value of education, Bob finally completed his college degree at night at the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Arts in physics. His four children took this to heart, and all have earned master's degrees.

A talented businessman, he rose to the position of vice president of manufacturing, and was on the board of directors at B&W.

Understanding that true, deep gratification and fulfillment only comes through service to others, he invested his time and treasures into community service activities. He was a founding member of Saint Mark's United Methodist Church, served as president of Wildwood Country Club and was distinguished as a Kentucky Colonel for his service to the Louisville community.

After retirement in 1981, Bob and Frankie moved to Wilmington, N.C., where they continued to embrace and celebrate life. He kept physically fit, and was active until the last month of his life -- "floating" (driving somewhere to visit someone), golf (Cape Fear Country Club), exercise class (New Hanover Regional Hospital cardiac rehabilitation), yard work (the basic maintenance, as well as tending his beautiful rose garden) and charitable endeavors (Wrightsville United Methodist Church outreach and mission trips, Meals on Wheels, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, Salvation Army, Boys Clubs of America and visits to friends in need with a rose from his garden, a smile and some conversation).

He was a "Good Samaritan," always on the lookout to help someone in need. He truly inspired the best out of all those he touched for the purest of reasons. Lifelong friendships were enjoyed with a number of people he met along his journey.

Bob was a good, faithful servant and a humble brother-in-Christ. He will be sincerely missed by all who knew him. We are overjoyed that Bob is reunited with Frankie ... "Ashes together on earth, souls united in heaven."

A memorial service to celebrate Bob's life will be conducted by the Rev. Bob Bauman, the Rev. P.D. Midgett and the Rev. Edie Gleaves at Wrightsville United Methodist Church Friday, May 30, at 11 a.m. A graveside service with a military honor guard will be held at Princeton, N.C., Cemetery at 5 p.m. that same day.

Memorial donations may be made to the Salvation Army of Wilmington; Wrightsville United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 748, Wrightsville Beach, N.C., 28403; or a charity of choice.

Please share memories and condolences with the family at www.wilmingtoncares.com.

Arrangements are by Wilmington Funeral and Cremation, 1535 S. 41st St., Wilmington, N.C., 28403, 910-791-9099.


Published in Obituaries on May 11, 2014 1:14 PM