Willard D Small

April 19, 1925 ~ May 23, 2024 (age 99)

Willard Davis Small, age 99, died Thursday, May 23, 2024 surrounded by those he loved. He was the son of the late Maxcey Dalton Small and Lillian Davis Small. Willard is also predeceased by his wife Ruth Cribbs Small. He is survived by his children, David Small (Sandra) of North Myrtle Beach, SC and Jerri S. Vaughan of Lexington, Ky. Also surviving are three grandchildren; Andrea Altman (Terry) of North Myrtle Beach, SC, Franklin Vaughan of Lexington, Ky, and Hampton Vaughan of Lexington, Ky.; one great granddaughter, Megan Hollembaek of Denver, Col. Willard leaves behind his companion, Dr. Thelma Mitchell.

Born into a family of nine children, Willard touted that he was “raised between two hills of tobacco”. His farm roots led him to a successful career in the tobacco business as he became President of Imperial Tobacco Leaf, Ltd., a British-based firm where he was in charge of leaf purchases in North and South America as well as Canada. He served on the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Commission. His tobacco background enabled him to provide expertise in recommending how monies derived from the legal settlement of the tobacco companies with the state were to be best spent among the communities throughout North Carolina that were impacted by the losses within the national tobacco buy-out program. Still active until his death, he remained on the Board of Directors with G.F. Vaughan Tobacco Company in Lexington,Ky.

Willard’s businesses include over 60 years as an automobile dealer, having four dealerships in North Carolina and two in South Carolina, as well as overseeing his farm operations.

He served as a member of the Fair Bluff Town Council for 48 years, one of the longest town council members of record in North Carolina. He advocated for a strict financial budget to prevent raising taxes for the elderly and lower income citizenry. A life-long supporter and benefactor of education, he served as a life-time member of the Board of Trustees, Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC and on the Board of Trustees and Foundation Investment member for Southeastern Community College. Willard was awarded North Carolina’s highest honor, The Order Of The Longleaf Pine.

He served on numerous boards including, but not limited to; Cape Fear Farm Credit, First Union Bank, Columbus County Schools, Fair Bluff Rotary Club, Fair Bluff Community Library, and Columbus County Economic Development Commission.

A member of Fair Bluff Baptist Church for over 85 years, he served as chairman of the Finance Committee and as a deacon. Willard also served as Chairman of the finance committee for the Columbus County Billy Graham Crusade.

A quotation from the written program for the 2012 Board Of Trustees and Presidential Board of Convocation at Campbell University best sums up Willard’s character and accomplishments: “In 2000, Willard was awarded Campbell’s prestigious Presidential Medallion, given to those individuals whose lives exemplify the Christian character, morality, and commitment demonstrated by each of Campbell’s Presidents”.

Funeral services will be held Sunday, May 26, 2024, at 3PM in the Fair Bluff Baptist Church with burial in the Powell Cemetery, Fair Bluff, NC. The service can be viewed online at: https://youtube.com/live/T9ditGtD97w?feature=share

Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service in the Fair Bluff Baptist Church Christian Life Center.

Donations in honor of Willard can be made to the following organizations. Fair Bluff Baptist Church P.O. Box 217 Fair Bluff, NC 28439, Fair Bluff Historical Society P.O. Box 234 Fair Bluff, NC 28439, or the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Center 206 Warrior Trail Whiteville, NC 28472