Willie “Bill” Hadley was the 8th of 13 children born on June 5, 1931 to Minter and Roberta Cotton Hadley. He grew up in Chatham County and attended Terrell's Chapel School and Horton School. He leaves loving and lasting memories his three children: Willie B. Hadley (Ana) of Encino, CA, Randy B. Hadley (Amie) of Orlando, FL and Robyn S. Hadley of St. Louis, MO; three siblings: Edward Hadley (Paulette) and Joyce McKissick, and Lois Hadley all of Pittsboro, NC; six grandchildren: Nathan and Alyssa Hadley of Encino, CA, Jhase Jeffries of Burlington, NC, Brycen, Skylar and Keyghan Hadley all of Orlando, FL. as well as many dear nieces and nephews, other relatives and close dear friends.
From a very young age he was a loyal supporter of Pittsboro Church of God, working alongside his late brother Isaiah "Pete" Hadley and others to build the church on Milliken Road. He enjoyed hearing the sermons of his late Mother, Roberta, the founding preacher of the church. After getting his driver's license he became the next sibling in line to drive his Mother to many conventions, revivals, prayer meetings, and church conferences to preach the gospel.
Bill began working at an early age, enjoyed being outdoors and working with his hands. As a teenager and young man he became known as “Fireball Hadley,” a left-handed pitcher who threw fast and hard. His coach was his older brother Pete. At one time Bill was recruited to play professional baseball but as the oldest boy living at home he had responsibilities for farming and other tasks as his late father began to go blind. Bill's greatest wish was to play professional baseball and he worked hard at that dream playing on Saturday evenings and becoming one of the best left-handed pitchers in the State at that time. While he did not achieve his dream to play professionally he lived to see part of that dream come true through his grandson Nathan who was drafted as a pitcher by the Minnesota Twins.
In 1955 Bill married Ruth Burnett from Graham and they raised three children: Robyn, Billy, and Randy. During that time Bill worked at the Swepsonville-Saxapahaw Mill, then later for Burlington Industries (BI) Transportation Division from which he retired in 2003 after 38 years. For years after his retirement he enjoyed meeting his BI coworkers and friends for breakfast on Saturday's once a month.
While most of Bill’s work time was spent at BI, throughout his life he was always known for working multiple jobs: landscaping, janitorial services, detailing vehicles, truck driving, and working with show horses. He could fix almost anything or he would put you in touch with someone who could help you and do a good job. Bill was also known as a sharp dresser. On Sunday's he was always decked out in his finest suit and hat. Over time he was often asked if he was a "Reverend" or "Bishop." In his later years, the weekly Sunday drive to Pittsboro Church of God became more challenging alone, as his regular riders gradually made their heavenly transition; his sister and brother in law, the late Juanita and James "Honey" Alston and his nephew and wife, the late Ervin and Barbara Stone. After that he attended Children's Chapel UCC in Graham more frequently.
Wherever he went, Bill was well known for driving a spotless car or truck. He loved driving, fixing , and cleaning his vehicles. While many people did not know him by name they knew him by the look and sound of his cars and trucks. More than anything Bill enjoyed sitting on his deck waving to people who drove by and talking to those who stopped by. The only places he really ever wanted to be were Graham and Pittsboro.
When the pandemic started he greatly missed seeing his family and friends at local restaurants, churches, summer cookouts, the barbershop, and around town. Bill will be greatly missed by his family and many friends in the community and especially his three children who were with him when he passed away at his home in Graham supported by Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent in the name of Willie R. Hadley to Pittsboro Church of God, PO Box 1284, Pittsboro, NC 27312. A Celebration of Life service will be held in the summer of 2021.
Covid-19 precautions will be observed; therefore, masks and social distancing are required.
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