Horace E. Huie of Olin, N.C., passed away on August 29, 2020. He lived a life that was defined by his jovial nature, a deep-seated belief in usefulness, and a legacy of showing up for others.
Born August 18, 1936, in Olin, Horace was a very active child who was always into mischief. His childhood began what became a lifelong obsession with finding and picking blackberries. It also marked the start of another endearing lifelong habit: he delighted in making early morning wake-up calls. More on both of those later.
Horace graduated from Union Grove High School in 1954. In search of opportunity, Horace followed his brother into the United States Marine Corps. After completing Boot Camp on Parris Island, Horace worked in Supply in Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton, and Okinawa, among other assignments.
While stationed at Camp Lejeune, Horace married Emily Reid, beginning their 59-year life together. When his enlistment ended, Horace and Emily moved to Union Grove, where they raised their three children — Pam, Phil, and Dora. Horace loved children. His own childhood mischievousness grew into the fun-loving, playful nature that endeared him to his friends and family throughout his life. He played and laughed freely with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Even up until the end of his life, he would be the first to log roll down a hill, to climb into a giant cardboard box, to let great grandkids paint his toenails, or to wear an outlandish Halloween costume.
Also shaping his adult life was a strong sense of the importance of usefulness and leadership.
Horace’s enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps was followed by a long career at Southern Screw, where he began in an entry-level office position in 1958, moved up to production control manager, and was promoted from there to oversee the shipping department. He was one of the last three employees entrusted to finalize operations when Southern Screw closed in 1990. During his time at Southern Screw, he was instrumental in bringing the union to the company as he felt strongly about improving compensation and working conditions for all employees. He was President of the Office Workers Union when the contract was signed. Outside of work and in the community, Horace was also a charter member of the Union Grove Fire Department and served as Board Chair for a number of years. He played a major role in the renovation of the Union Grove Fire Department in the late 1970s. When interviewed once about his approach to management at Southern Screw, he said, “I try to motivate people to be responsible and make decisions on their own, put them in positions I think they can handle and give them free hand. And it works great.” What the interview could never capture, but what was obvious to all who knew him, was that whether he was at work or in the community, he was constantly putting himself out there, building relationships, showing up to support people, and trying to mediate conflicts in ways that were fair for everyone.
After his retirement from Southern Screw, he worked at Ace Hardware in Union Grove until recently. He enjoyed being around other people, telling stories, knowing what was going on in the community, and helping people figure out what they needed to do projects. He never met a stranger in his life, but especially not while he was working at Ace. People came to Ace just to see Horace. He would always say, “We don’t make a lot of money, but we have a lot of fun!”
The very same active, curious nature that got him into trouble as a child helped him have a rich, full life. He was always working on a project, always heading somewhere, and always talking to someone.
Horace gardened year-round. He always had a project going to keep him busy, and, as anyone who gardens knows, gardening fits that bill. Horace kept family and friends flush with delicious fresh produce, especially tomatoes, okra, and greens. In later years, he also enjoyed watching zinnias grow in his garden.
Until 2015, Horace treated the growth habits of the wild blackberries in Union Grove the way other people treat college sports. All of Horace’s family members know that blackberry “season” began in early June when Horace started watching the berries and making his plan of attack. By late June, blackberry picking would be a daily activity at all times of day for three weeks and anyone could be conscripted into helping him berry-pick for hours on end. In 2012, Horace picked more than 44 quarts of blackberries by himself! His obsession yielded an abundance of blackberry cobblers, blackberry jelly, and cooked blackberries to be sopped up with biscuits.
He loved being around people — especially when he could laugh, joke, or tell stories with them. He played good-natured pranks that kept his family and friends laughing. Whether he was wearing red polyester pants to a wedding or turning a toilet seat into a wreath, Horace’s pranks were always memorable. He delighted in making 6 a.m. happy birthday calls and in waking up anyone who slept past that hour with a too-cheerful “rise and shine!”
In the late 1970s, Horace jumped into showing horses with his daughter Dora. Through the 1980s, he had a few Arabian mares that competed in Class A horse shows in North Carolina and the Southeast. Over time, he moved into breeding, raising and showing American Saddlebred horses. He loved raising colts and watching them go to shows. His horses won several high point awards over the years.
He was a lifelong and devoted member of Winthrop Friends Meeting, often taking on leadership roles like teaching the Adult Men’s Sunday School class, serving on the House & Grounds Committee, and serving as a Clerk (Elder) on the Ministry & Counsel Committee.
From 2014 to 2016, he became full-time caregiver to Emily, as she suffered from dementia and a number of physical ailments. He made sure she could live the rest of her life comfortably at home by embarking on a labor of love to care for her, with support from his children, as well as Bonnie Mitchell, who became such a valued and trusted friend of the family that she continued to help Horace until his death.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Hoyt and Sarah Crater Huie; brothers Gale and Pete Huie; sister Sue Johnson; and his wife, Emily Reid Huie.
Horace is survived by children – Pam (Gerald) Campbell, Phil (Janet Williams) Huie, and Dora (Bill) Machat; grandchildren – Eliza (Jason) Kiser, Leah (Mike) Painter, and Sarah (Jonathan) Williams; great-grandchildren – Bailey, Laurette, Adisyn, Emily and Kirby; sisters – Luecree Nicholson and Charlotte Redmond, sister-in-law Sylvia (Dennis) Pipkin; special friend Elaine Sessoms, and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends.
Mr. Huie will Lie in State on Friday, September 4, from 12 to 5 p.m. at Nicholson Funeral Home in Statesville. A Graveside Service will be held Saturday, September 5, 2020, at 11 a.m. at Winthrop Friends Meeting in Union Grove/Harmony with the body to Lie in State from 10 to 10:45 a.m. at the church prior to the service. Full military rites will be held. Attendees are asked to wear a mask to the service and observe social distancing for the safety of all in attendance. Fond memories and condolences may be left at www.nicholsonfunerals.com.
Nicholson Funeral Home is serving the family.