William Mills “Bill” Law, age 88, died Tuesday morning August 30 at his home.
Bill was born on August 20, 1928 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the eldest son of William Hopkins Law and Kathryn Mills Law. As a young man, he lived in Rockport, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire and Burlington, Vermont where he attended Burlington High School. Shortly after his graduation in 1946 he enrolled at Boston University where he was active in the Debate Team and was President of the Gamma Chapter of the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1950. Concurrent with his college studies, his time in Back Bay Boston provided the opportunity to enhance his childhood love of baseball by attending many games at Fenway Park and Braves (Nickerson) Field for the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Braves respectively.
The Korean War pulled him into the Army where he was stationed at Ft Gordon, Georgia and Ft Bragg, North Carolina as a corporal in the Signal Corps. It was while the latter post that he met Retta Nunnery and coincident with his Honorable Discharge, they were married on November 23, 1952. Out of the Army, Law with his new bride, returned to Burlington and Montpelier, Vermont where he worked for the Howard Bank and during which time they had two sons, Rayford William Law (1954) and Lawrence Robert “Tex” Law (1955).
Although a native, returning to New England was not to his liking after living in a more temperate Southern climate, so with young family in hand he moved to Raleigh where he briefly worked for the Luther Hodges administration in the planning of the Research Triangle Park before he joined Raleigh Savings & Loan where he was Vice President for Public Relations. During this time he was very active in many other pursuits, including the Raleigh Jaycees and Kiwanis Club, and along with Retta, the Miss North Carolina Pageant. He also served as President of the Raleigh Little Theater, where he acted in numerous dramatic roles for almost a decade. It was during this time that he was elected as its first non-native to the Raleigh City Council, where he served for two terms becoming Mayor Pro Tem for part of his tenure. A third child, Janet Retta Law, was born in 1963.
As a bank executive in radio and TV advertising, an accomplished amateur thespian and a respected politician, Bill was frequently involved in a wide variety of charitable, civic and commercial speaking roles including a five year stint as State Chairman and Emcee for the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon. However, it was his passion for baseball that provided the opportunity for his premiere engagement as a ballpark announcer at Raleigh’s Devereaux Meadow for the Carolina League Raleigh Pirates in 1966. It was also at this time that his year-round passion for baseball led to his almost 50 year involvement with the Raleigh Hot Stove League for which the last 20 years he was President. The League’s annual Citation for Special Achievement was recently named the Bill Law Award.
After a brief stint in hospitality with the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel, Bill returned to state government in the Department of Administration where he was worked in the State Planning Office before he became Director of General Services under several administrations, both Democrat and Republican. He retired in 1992.
It was at this time that Bill started doing promotional work at Capitol Broadcasting and in many instances these involved audio voice-overs and on-site work for the Durham Bulls that subsequently led him to be hired in 1995 as the ballpark announcer at the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park. His iconic voice was heard at DBAP on an almost daily basis for 12 years until he transitioned away from the press box microphone to the role of Team Ambassador in 2007 giving countless talks to clubs, schools and professional groups as well as providing a continued welcoming presence at the ballpark until now. As indicative of his love and commitment to the Bulls organization, at 80 years old Bill and Retta moved from the longtime family homestead in Raleigh’s North Hills to Old Bull on the American Tobacco Campus in 2008 so they could walk to and from the ballpark. The Press Box (now Game Operations) at DBAP is named in his honor and in recognition of his many years of dedication and service, Bill was presented the Spirit of the International League Award in 2013.
Bill is survived by his brother, Robert Dennis Law of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, his wife of 63 years, Retta, and his three children, Rayford of Marblehead, Massachusetts, Tex of Chapel Hill, Janet of Greensboro and Merritt Island, Florida. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, Wheeler, Peirce, Sarah, Emily, WF, Victoria, Sarah, Kelly, Logan and three great grandchildren, Adrianna, Ella and Meredith.
A Memorial service followed by a reception will be held at 12 noon on Tuesday September 6 in the PNC Triangle Club at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 409 Blackwell Street in Durham. The Law Family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Home.