Farm Animals 29


William Gordon Greenlee

January 22, 1919 ~ March 29, 2018 (age 99)
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Thursday March 29 saw the passing of another of the “Greatest Generation”, World War II veteran Lt. Colonel William “Bill” Greenlee of Marion.   Bill was born in S. C. in 1919 to the late John Harvey Greenlee and Loto Q. Greenlee but grew up and spent most of his life in the Woodlawn area of McDowell County and was a 1936 graduate of Pleasant Gardens High School.  Following graduation from N.C. State in 1941, after having completed a degree in Dairy Manufacturing, he joined the army and saw active service in the European theater during World War II.  As a Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry Division he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in the fierce battles of the Hurtgen Forest in Germany. Twice wounded he was recipient of the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster as well as other awards for valor including a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters. In 2013 he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for risking his life assisting in that country’s liberation from Germany. Those selected for this distinction are appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor.  The Legion of Honor is France’s highest recognition and Is only given to those with the most distinguished records. Following WWII he remained in the Army Reserves and retired in 1975 after over 30 years of service to his country.

After his term of active overseas military service and while still serving in the reserves he returned to McDowell county where he and his brother, Charles, operated both the family farm in Woodlawn and Greenlee Lime and Stone Inc. a family owned aggregate materials company.  Over the years he also served as president of the McDowell County Farm Bureau, Master of the Pleasant Gardens Grange, Supervisor of the McDowell County Soil and Water Conservation Service, Chairman of the N.C. Small Watershed Committee and Director of FCX, Inc.   In 1971 he was elected to the Boards of Directors of the four Nationwide Insurance Companies in Columbus, Ohio.  He served as director of this multi-line organization, one of the largest in the United States, for over 15 years until retiring in 1986.  At the time of his retirement he was Chairman of the Board of Nationwide General Insurance Company and was a director of a number of Nationwide’s affiliate and subsidiary companies including Employers Insurance of Wausau and Farmland Mutual Insurance Company. He was also a trustee of Nationwide Investing Foundation.

In 1982 during his tenure as a Nationwide board member, he met and married Nedra Freitag of Columbus, Ohio who preceded him in death in 1995.

In addition to his business pursuits he was also active in his community serving as Chairman of the McDowell County Agriculture Center and on boards or in advisory positions for both the McDowell House and the Corpening YMCA.  He was also an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Marion.

Lt. Colonel Greenlee is preceded in death by his wife, Nedra Freitag Greenlee, his brother Charles Harvey Greenlee and his friend and companion of many years Elizabeth Craig Thomas. He is survived by three nieces, Grace Greenlee of Marion,  Loto Greenlee of Marion and Charlotte Greenlee Carter of Harrodsburg, Ky., a grandnephew Charles W. Semones of Harrodsburg, Ky. , three children by marriage, Linda Freitag Scott,  Greg Freitag and wife Sharon  and  Rick Freitag and wife Marilyn, all of Ohio. He is also survived by 8 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, 1 great great grandchild, and 1 great grand nephew. 

The family will receive friends at Westmoreland Funeral Home in Marion on Monday, April 2, 2018 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.  Funeral Services will be at the First Presbyterian Church at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.  Memorials may be made in his name to the American Institute of Cancer Research at 1560 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1000, Arlington, VA  22209, or to First Presbyterian Church at 79 Academy Street, Marion, NC  28752, or to the charity of your choice.  

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