We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home
Mr. Ray Spencer Triplett, age 91, of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, passed away on Sunday, June 26, 2022, at the Memory Care Unit of Rose Glen Manor in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina,
bringing to a close his extraordinary life on this earth but beginning a new and eternal one.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, 2022 at Wilkesboro United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends at the church immediately following the service.
Ray, or Papa as he was known to much of his family in later years, was born in Wilkes County on November 4, 1930, to Arlon and Edith Foster Triplett. He and his older brother Robert, who were seldom (if ever!) separated from each other, grew up together in Wilkesboro during the Great Depression and the early years of World War II, and they lived the life of small-town boys who reveled in adventure and mischief. Stories of their boyhood exploits are the stuff of family legend.
Ray later attended Wilkesboro High School and graduated in 1950, where he was president of the student body and a star athlete in football, baseball, and basketball. He played football in his final two years for Coach Marvin “Red” Hoffman in Coach Hoffman’s first two seasons as a coach in Wilkes County, and in 1949 he became the first high school football player in the history of Wilkes County to be named to the All-State team. He played in the 1949 North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl, where he caught a touchdown pass in North Carolina’s victory.
Following the 1949 season, Ray received football scholarship offers to UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Georgia, Appalachian State (then Appalachian State Teacher’s College), and other schools. He chose to attend Appalachian State because the love of his life, Nancy Garwood, whom he had known since childhood and who was the head cheerleader at Wilkesboro High School when Ray was playing football, was already in school there. Ray and Nancy were married during Ray’s freshman year, in January of 1951, and he went on to letter in football and baseball at Appalachian State. He also played semi-pro baseball for two years with a team in West Jefferson, North Carolina. Ray graduated from Appalachian with a Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1954 and obtained his Master’s degree in education there in 1955.
Ray and Nancy moved back to Wilkesboro after Ray finished at Appalachian State, and in 1955 he was hired as a teacher and coach at the newly formed West Wilkes High School where he stayed for 10 years. Ray was the first football and baseball coach at West Wilkes and also taught physical education and civics. His football coaching career, spanning ten seasons from 1955 through 1964, set a standard of excellence at West Wilkes that has continued ever since. Many outstanding athletes played under Ray, and his overall winning record through his ten seasons was capped by his 1963 team that finished 8-1-1, for which he was named the 1963 District 7-A Coach of the Year. To the end of his life, Ray was affectionately known simply as “Coach” to the many players whose lives he impacted.
In 1965 Ray reluctantly left his coaching and teaching career behind and moved on to a new phase in his life. He entered the business world, first with Nationwide Insurance and then with Lineberry Foundry & Machine Company in North Wilkesboro and its subsidiary company, McCrary Saw & Tool in Lenoir. Ray was at Lineberry (later purchased by Vermont American Corporation) for 24 years where he worked with his Garwood brothers-in-law, Albert, John, Charles, Joe, and Sonny. As he did in every part of his life, he made numerous friends at Lineberry with whom he would always remain close.
In addition to his career in education and business, Ray was active in civic and public life. In 1977 he first ran for and won a seat as commissioner for the Town of Wilkesboro, and he was re-elected to that seat four additional times, serving a total of 18 years on the Wilkesboro town board with two of them as mayor pro tem. He also served for 16 years on the Board of Trustees of Wilkes Community College as an appointee of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners, and for 12 years he was a member of the Wilkesboro ABC Board, serving for six of them as chairman. Other organizations Ray served with included the Wilkesboro Fire Department, the Wilkesboro branch of the Yadkin Valley Bank Board of Trustees, the Wilkesboro Lions Club, the Wilkesboro Business and Professional Men’s Club, and the John A. Walker Center Board. Additionally, Ray was a proud member of Liberty Masonic Lodge in Wilkesboro from 1955 until the end of his life.
Of all Ray’s accomplishments and activities, however, perhaps none meant more to him than his dedication to Wilkesboro United Methodist Church. He became a member in 1955 and served at one time or another on virtually every committee in the church, including especially the Board of Trustees which he chaired for multiple terms. And for more than half a century he taught Sunday School, giving every single lesson a rich background of preparation and research.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Arlon and Edith Triplett, and by his beloved wife of nearly 56 years, Nancy Garwood Triplett, who passed away unexpectedly in January of 2007. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Robert Triplett, and Robert’s wife, Mary; by his sister, Ann Triplett Hartley, and Ann’s husband, Jim; by his brothers-in-law Sonny Garwood and wife, Rena, Albert Garwood and wife, Anna Laura, Charles Garwood and wife, Ann, John Garwood, and Joe Garwood and wife, Wanda; by his sisters-in-law Lucile McFerrin and husband, Jimmie, Edna Hutcheson and husband, Doyle, and Jeanie Garwood; and by his nephews, Terry Triplett and Abbie Garwood.
He is survived by his son, Anthony R. “Tony” Triplett and wife, Susie, of Wilkesboro; hisdaughter, Lynn Triplett Deal and husband, Randy, of Purlear; his daughter, Elizabeth “Beth” Ebert and husband, Holger, of Charlotte; his grandson, Tyler Brooks and wife, Jennifer Brooks, of Statesville; his grandson, Brad Triplett, of Winston-Salem; his granddaughter, Lorie Triplett, of Wilkesboro; his grandson, Ian Ebert, of Huntersville; his grandson, Kellan Ebert, of Charlotte; his great-grandsons, Cooper and Mason Brooks, of Statesville; his sister, Janey Triplett Lackey and husband, Jerry, of North Wilkesboro; his sister-in-law, Wanda Garwood, of Wilkesboro; and numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
The family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers with Rose Glen Manor in North Wilkesboro and Mountain Valley Hospice for all of their help in looking after “Papa” in the final months of his life. We would also like to thank special friends and caregivers Larry and Susan Christenbury for being such wonderful neighbors to Papa.
The family is accepting flowers and would ask that memorials be made to Wilkesboro United Methodist Church, PO Box 197, Wilkesboro, NC 28697, Rose Glen Manor Memory Care Unit, 240 Independence Avenue, North Wilkesboro, Mountain Valley Hospice, 401 Technology Lane, Suite 200 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
Online Condolences may be made to www.reinssturdivant.com.
Wilkesboro United Methodist Church
PO Box 197, Wilkesboro NC 28697
Rose Glen Manor Memory Care Unit
240 Independence Avenue, North Wilkesboro NC 28659
Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care
401 Technology Lane, Suite 200, Mt. Airy NC 27020
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105