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Drury Fisher Williford, Jr.

November 27, 1929 ~ January 29, 2018 (age 88)
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Drury F. Williford, Jr., 88, of Reedsville, WV, died on January 29, 2018, in Morgantown at Monongalia General Hospital with family by his side.  Born in Memphis, TN, he was the only child of the late Drury F. Williford, Sr. and Irene F. Dawson.  A Protestant, he was Baptized, Confirmed, and served as an acolyte and mission treasurer in the Episcopal Church.

            He received his grammar school education at Bruce School and Miss Lee’s in Memphis and attended middle school at Pentecost-Garrison in Memphis and St. Stanislaus College, Bay St. Louis, MS.  He graduated Cum Merito from The Webb School, Bell Buckle, TN, (1947) and earned a Board of Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree from West Virginia University (1986).  While an undergraduate at WVU, he was invited to participate in the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program.

            His military service included an enlistment in Naval Air Reserve Patrol Squadron VP-ML-59, Naval Air Station, Memphis (1948).  Declining an appointment as a Naval Air Cadet (1949), he accepted one to the U. S. Coast Guard Academy that same year.  During his fourth class year, he crewed on the USCGC Eagle.  Voluntarily resigning from the Academy (1950), he enlisted in the Naval V-6 Reserve in Memphis.  Called to active duty during the Korean War (1950), he served two years at the Naval Base Signal Tower, Pearl Harbor, TH.  Upon achieving the rank of third class petty officer (Quartermaster 3rd), he applied for a transfer to the USS Tiru, SS 416.  However, his commanding officer placed a caveat on the transfer, effectively nullifying it and any ambition of making a career in submarines.  For the above service, he received two Honorable Discharges from the Navy and a separation from service under honorable conditions from the Coast Guard.

            Returning to civilian life, the National Bank of Commerce, Memphis, employed him for a year as an audit clerk.  He resigned from the Bank and joined the Memphis Police Department (1954).  The following year, he left that Department upon his acceptance as a Patrol Inspector (Trainee) by the U. S. Border Patrol.  His formal duty stations included El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ, and Buffalo, NY, with temporary assignments in Hatch, NM, and Brownsville, TX.  Upon completing his compulsory probationary year and satisfactorily passing his written examination in Immigration Law and written and oral examinations in Spanish in Tucson, he was appointed Acting Sector Training Officer, Tucson.  In August, 1956, he was transferred to Buffalo.  Eight months after arriving in Buffalo, he resigned from the Patrol to become a U. S. Customs Inspector (1957).  During the next twenty-four years, he rose through the ranks via five promotions to become an Operations Officer (Headquarter’s Staff Officer).  His duty stations included Buffalo; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Customs Headquarters, Washington, DC, with temporary duty assignments in Washington and Houston, TX.  One of the highlights of his Headquarter’s tour was serving as an interface between the White House Press Corps and the Japanese, South Korean, and United States officials during a foreign trip by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.  Retiring in 1981, his West Virginia residences included Morgantown, Fairmont, and Reedsville.

            Between 1973 and 1983, he was a member of the North-South Skirmish Association and participated in marksmanship matches in eight states.  He won over two hundred medals in competition; seven of these were at the national level, including one first place.

He was also a Certified Police Firearms Instructor.

            He served as a Literacy Volunteer Tutor from 1985 to 1988.  He researched and wrote six magazine articles on Civil War small arms’ accouterments and ammunition (1992-2002); he and his wife researched and wrote a seventh.  To protect this work, he applied for and was granted eleven copyrights.

            His athletic interests included football and hockey.  He played football in middle and high schools, lettering twice.  In 1948, he received a walk-on tryout at Vanderbilt University, where he fractured his left leg.  His comment about this was limited to, “I was short on everything but desire.”  While in Canada, he learned to ice skate and play hockey.  Returning to Buffalo in 1963, he coached youth hockey in Amherst, NY (1964-1972), Wheaton, MD (1972-1973); and Morgantown, WV (1981-1982).  His Novice team at Amherst was the first such American team to engage in scheduled play in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association; this team had a schedule of fifty games and fifty practices.  In Morgantown, his Pee Wee team won the first American Hockey Association sanctioned state tournament in West Virginia.  Notwithstanding coaching in three venues, his teams enjoyed ten winning seasons.  He retired from coaching in 1982.

            Also in Canada, he became interested in photography and, upon returning to Buffalo, moonlighted as a freelance photographer (1963-1972).  In conjunction with the Customs Service’s 175th Anniversary, he photographed every aspect of that agency’s activities in the Buffalo District.  His mounted monochrome photographs and color positives were displayed at the Erie County Savings Bank, Boulevard Mall, and Erie County Fair.

            A lifelong aviation enthusiast, he and his wife built a two-place tandem ultralight airplane, which he test flew and piloted regularly from 2003 to 2007.  In conjunction with this avocation, he was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

            He was very proud of his family’s English, Colonial, and Native American (Nansemond) origins.  All of his European ancestors arrived in the Colonies prior to the American Revolution; the earliest landing was in 1619.  A strong supporter of wildlife preservation and habitat, he was a member of the World Wildlife Fund and Defenders of Wildlife.  He and his wife rescued or adopted, and provided a home to seven canines.

            The Customs Service awarded him nine Letters of Commendation and a Certificate of Appreciation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms also awarded him a Certificate of Appreciation.  His honorariums include: Department of the Treasury High Quality Performance Awards (1975, 1976, and 1979) and Special Achievement Award (1981); WVU tendered him a full-semester Judith Herndon Fellowship (undergraduate) at the West Virginia Legislature (1984); Amherst Youth Hockey inducted him into their Hockey Hall of Fame (1984); he was the Marion County Literacy Volunteer Tutor-of-the-Year (1987); and he was inducted into Who’s Who in the South and Southwest (1999) and in America (2000).

            In commenting on his life, he wrote, “I wanted it to be interesting; I did not want to be a one-trick pony.  I also desired to provide payback for the many opportunities that I enjoyed and for the assistance that I received.  I lived the American Dream.  With the support of my wife, Shirley, I was fortunate in surrounding myself with everything that I needed.”

            He was predeceased by one son, Alan L. Williford.  He leaves his wife of thirty plus years, Shirley A. Williford, three adult children by an earlier marriage, and a stepson, Michael L. Hagedorn of Morgantown.  Funeral arrangements will consist of cremation, followed by interments in Morgan Memorial Park, Reedsville and Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis.

            The family requests that memorials, in lieu of flowers, be made to the Preston County Animal Shelter, 278 Poor Farm Road, Kingwood, WV 26537.

Morgan Funeral Home is honored to serve the Williford family.


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