William Fletcher Absher, Jr.
William Fletcher Absher, Jr.
Year Inducted: 2017
William Fletcher Absher, Jr. was born in Iredell County, on May 26, 1930 to Rachel Forester Absher and William Fletcher Absher Sr. After graduation from North Wilkesboro High School in 1948, he attended UNC-Chapel Hill and in 1950 enlisted in the United States Air Force. Absher served in the Korean Conflict and was honorably discharged and returned home to Wilkes County in 1954.
Absher began working with his family businesses, The Sentinel Insurance Agency and Absher Real Estate Incorporated. Through his Wilkes connections, Absher quickly became an asset to the young Northwestern Bank. He was a member of Northwestern’s Board of Directors beginning in the mid 1950’s and was associated with the bank’s new Trust Department in the late 1960’s. Absher continued his Northwestern Bank affiliation until its merger with First Union in 1985; he then served on First Union’s Board of Directors.
In the early 1960’s Absher and six other businessmen began Wilkes Development Company and developed the land along Moravian Creek in Wilkesboro, known today as Westwood Hills. They also donated the original tract of land where Wilkes Community College was built, making higher education more readily available to Wilkes and surrounding counties.
Absher was active in other civic groups such as the Elks Lodge, Oakwoods Country Club and the Kiwanis Club. His business, The Sentinel Insurance Agency, funded the boy scouts, little league ball teams and YMCA basketball teams for both boys and girls as well as other civic organizations. He was also instrumental in the establishment of protective services for women and children in need, such as SAFE.
Absher served in various capacities in the Democratic Party including many different chairmanships. What made him so effective as a community leader though was not his titles but his genuineness. He was a true friend and offered support to all who asked. Though always a leader, Absher never considered himself above others. Regardless of political affiliation, economic status, educational background, or race, Absher was there with a helping hand. His many accomplishments and contributions to Wilkes County include: Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1985 and posthumously in 1999; North Wilkesboro Town Commissioner; Director of the Wilkes General Hospital Board; The North Carolina Rail Commission; and The North Carolina Tax Commission. In 2003, The North Carolina Department of Transportation honored Absher by dedicating a portion of US 421 as William F. Absher, Jr. Memorial Highway.
Absher was married to Linda McNeil Absher, and they have two daughters, Deborah Diane Absher Price and Tracy Elizabeth Absher, two sons Christopher Clay Absher and William Fletcher Absher III, and four grandchildren.