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William Mills “Bill” Law

Posted By Hall-Wynne On September 2, 2016 @ 3:08 pm In Durham,Obituaries | 4 Comments

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.


Condolences for the family of “William Mills “Bill” Law”

Condolence from Charkie Gaddy on September 5th, 2016 5:34 pm

Dearest Retta and family…I was so sad to read of Bill’s passing. He was a good and supportive friend to me all of his life, as the two of you were to countless others. Bill made his life count in so many ways and his passing will leave a deep hole in this community. He was so rightly proud of his family.
Nancy and I would have been at the funeral except she just got our of the hospital from serious surgery and I don’t want to leave her at home alone.
We have been blessed by your friendship over the years. Give our sympathy to your kids, especially Janet whom I knew best.
With Love…..Charlie Gaddy

Condolence from Jay Henry Van Vechten on September 6th, 2016 12:38 am

I will always treasure the memories of the holiday we spent together in Barbados, oh so many years ago. What fun we had exploring and discovering the island and the special friendship that drew us together. I am so saddened to learn of Bill’s passing Retta and family. He was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Condolence from Jim Chavasse on September 9th, 2016 4:15 pm

Dear Retta: I was so very sorry to learn of Bil’s death in the Sunday N&O. My deepest sympathy to you and your family., Bill was a great guy, and I enjoyed our relationship at Raleigh Savings. All the best to you and the family.

Jim Chavasse

Condolence from Bruce Michaels on September 12th, 2016 10:30 am

I only learned of Bill’s passing mid-last week, and am terribly saddened. My presence at the service last week would have changed nothing, but I nevertheless regret not making the discovery sooner. Indeed, I only this morning found this notice.

My years as part of the Bulls family still provide me wonderful memories, but among the most treasured are the times spent and the many conversations with my friend, Bill Law.

Retta, I’m so very sorry.

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