John R. Byrd, 90, of Wilmington, NC, died on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 following a brief illness. He was born Sept 3, 1928 on a blustery Monday in Fuquay-Varina, NC, the only child of the late William Erroll Byrd and Kathleen Dennis. He graduated from Fuquay High School where he played the trumpet in school and at funerals in his hometown.
At age 26, John became the youngest owner of a Chevrolet dealership, called ABJ Chevrolet, in Angier, NC, which he successfully ran for 19 years. (1954-1972) He was a fair and honest man, going out of his way for his customers. He continued his love for Chevy’s throughout his lifetime.
He married his high school sweetheart, Ruby White, later in life after both had a previous spouse and child. They were married for nearly 40 years. He lovingly cared for her in their home, through her extended illness.
John was a devoted Christian man, a Democrat, Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan, and later, Tony Stewart. He knew many of the earlier generations of Nascar drivers/owners, growing up. He even provided several pace cars, including a 1957 fuel injected car which had just came out, while in his Chevrolet business. John had season tickets for his beloved Atlanta Falcons and Braves.
John had a very special connection with his Uncle, Lee Aubrey Riggs, “Speed” the “Voice of Lucky Strikes.” 1908-1987. “Speed” took him under his wing and taught him many lessons that benefitted his life.
John is survived by his beloved companion, “Smoke” a Pomeranian dog; dear Wilmington friends, Allen Gurley, Tim & Debby Hesse, Rosa Mae McNeal, Doris Peters, Ruth Price, Becky Shipton; and long-distance neighbors, Ed & Pat Miller from Atlanta GA.
Also surviving are his extended family members; John R. Byrd Jr./family of TN-FL; NC family members, Martha (Darnell) Fox/family, Jane Davis/family, and Robert Williams.
Upon John’s death, he lived to be the oldest blood relative of all his family members.
A Memorial Service will be held at 12:00 pm on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Quinn McGowen Funeral Home 315 Willow Woods Dr. in Wilmington NC with Pastor Merrell McKoy officiating. Visitation will be 2 hours prior t the service.
In lieu of flowers, you may contribute to Lower Cape Fear Hospice 1414 Physicians Dr. Wilmington NC 28401 (910) 796-7900, in his honor.
John’s internment will take place, at a later date, in Montlawn Memorial Park, 2911 S. Wilmington St. Raleigh NC 27603 (919) 772-1073 where he’ll be laid to rest beside his grandmother, parents, and late wife, Ruby.
Shared memories and condolences may be sent to the family by selecting "Guestbook" above.
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John hired my father as Service Manager for ABJ Chevrolet when I was 11 years old. We moved to Angier that year and my Dad would let me hang around the shop and wash cars and John would let me sit in the Corvettes in the showroom. Later my dad opened an auto body shop and John would bring cars to us for one thing or another. I was still a kid but once John ask me to install a set spoilers on Chevrolet Monza. After I finished he bragged on me so much, I rememberJohn saying to my dad "Gorden do you see what that boy can do" and seeing my dad smile.
My dad moved his family to Angier to work for John and because of that move, Angier became my hometown, I met friends I've had for almost 50 years and I became a life long Chevrolet and Corvette owner. I still remember that first Corvette I ever sat in. An eleven year old kid in a blue rag top Corvette on the showroom floor of ABJ Chevrolet. Thanks John.
Submitted by Cecil Bell on Oct 26 2018 10:53:14 PM
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