Born: January 16, 1936
Died: June 07, 2014
Billy Joe Kepley, age 78, prominent resident and Davidson County Commissioner of Lexington (Welcome Community) passed away suddenly Saturday morning.
Funeral service will be held 4:00pm Wednesday at Center United Methodist Church with Rev. Dr. Stephen Pillsbury officiating. Burial will follow at Center United Methodist Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Davidson Funeral Home, Lexington from 5:00 until 8:00 pm Tuesday night and at other times at the home.
Billy Joe was born on January 16, 1936 on a Tobacco farm in Northern Davidson County to Hubert Austin and Subie Clodfelter Kepley. He grew up with a hoe in his hand tilling fields of corn, sweet potatoes and truck crops of melons, beans, peas, etc. and milked two cows daily. At age 14 he acquired his first job at the Welcome Drive-In at the concession stand 5 nights a week and earned $10.00 a week and worked there until age of 18 and graduated from North Davidson High School in 1954 and was Salutatorian and would have been Valedictorian if he had better typing skills. He was accepted at Indiana Technical College and majored in Electrical Engineering and later entered a two year course in aeronautics and earned certification from National School of Aeronautics in Missouri. After graduation he immediately went to work for Eastern Airlines and less than a year later took an offer from Western Electric. He was later sought out by Bell Telephone Labs for their Research and Development program and he transferred to Southern Bell Telephone accepting an outside plant engineer position. He retired with 30 plus years of service in 1987. He volunteered for the military and enlisted in the NC Air National Guard and received his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and attended Tech. school for the aircraft and engine mechanic certification and was certified for the F-100 fighter jets and was honorably discharged in 1961. In 1961 he married Kathy Swicegood and had four children. He trained and secured his professional license as a Photographer and moon-lighted that profession for 50 years, finally giving it up in 2008. At the present Billy Joe was managing about 100 acres of forest and agricultural land. It is sown in hay grasses which he would harvest and sell to Equine and Livestock people. He operated a community sawmill and provided services for custom sawing. He would cut, saw and sell lumber from his own woodlands. All of the acreage is in a conservation easement with the Land Trust of Central North Carolina and can never be developed. Currently he was serving as a Davidson County Commissioner. He was first elected in 1990 and received the most votes and served until 2004 when the primary election date was moved from May to July and lost his seat by 5 votes. In 2006 he ran again and received the most votes and he was still serving out his term until his death on Saturday. He was currently serving on the Boards of, The Crisis Ministry of Davidson County, Land Trust of Central North Carolina, Pilot View Resource Conservation and Development and Central Park of North Carolina and many more too numerous to mention. He was a dedicated, lifelong member of Center United Methodist Church and a Sunday School teacher; lifetime member of the Lions club; past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Welcome fire Department. He was preceded in death by his parents; step-mother, Mabel Kepley and granddaughter, Sarah Rachel.
Billy Joe is survived by his wife, Kathy Swicegood Kepley of the home; daughter, Lisha Craven (Scott) of Welcome; sons, Chad Kepley (Kecia), Shane Kepley and Wyatt Kepley (Tracy) all of Welcome; grandchildren, Aaron Kepley, Garret Kepley, Mycah Kepley and Hamilton “Moose” Kepley; sister-in-law, Mardie Broadway; 3 nephews and 2 great-nephews.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Center United Methodist Church, PO Box 179, Welcome, NC 27374; Crisis Ministry of Davidson County, 107 East First Avenue, Lexington, NC 27292 or to The Welcome Lions Club, PO Box 302 Welcome, NC 27374
Online Condolences may be made at www.davidsonfuneralhome.net