Reuben Edward Sawyer Jr.

Published 7:15 pm Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reuben Edward (Ed) Sawyer Jr., 88, of Washington, passed away peacefully June 20, 2018, at River Trace Nursing & Rehab of Alzheimer’s disease.

Reuben Edward was born June 24, 1929, in the Bible Shore area of Beaufort County. As an infant, his family moved to the Ponzer community of Hyde County. He was the son of the late Reuben Edward Sawyer and the late Gladys Carmen Richards Sawyer. One day, he took a chance and asked Louise Bonner Howerin if she wanted “to go for a little ride.” On Sept. 29, 1950, in Chocowinity, they were married and continued their “ride” until her death in 2016.

Reuben Edward spent his childhood years in Hyde County working on the family farm and helping other farmers, especially during the war. He attended school in Belhaven. His early married life saw him as a farmer, tugboat engineer and heavy equipment operator. He was away from home as a tugboat engineer when his daughter was born, but didn’t miss his son’s arrival.

As a heavy equipment operator, Reuben Edward helped build roads and runways in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia before returning to North Carolina.

When the company he was working for in NC went out of business in 1961, Reuben Edward seized the opportunity to purchase a 405 Koreing dragline and started Reuben E. Sawyer Construction Co. His work included digging canals through forests and building rough roads for WestVACO to get to their timber. He was also instrumental in the retrieval of two downed pilots and their AF jets in dense marsh areas of the Air Force Dare County Bombing Range.

In 1977, Reuben Edward started R & S Crane Company with one crane. Eventually, the company expanded to four cranes. Their work included the Manteo Assembly Of God Church and condos along the beach.

Among his many talents was the ability to compute volumes in his head, despite having only an 8th-grade education. Whether it was the amount of dirt he had moved or the size bowl needed for leftovers, he was always right on.

Reuben Edward will be remembered as a man of integrity, honesty, generosity and fair-mindedness. He is sadly missed.

Survivors include his daughter, Dorothy Van Dyne; his son, Philip L. Sawyer and wife Marsha; and his grandson, Jason L. Sawyer and wife Nicole. Survivors also include three sisters, Zella Stassfort, of Loganville, Georgia; Mary Lou Pedley, of Washington, and Rachel S. Lonberger, of Woodstock, Georgia. Additional survivors include two stepbrothers: James Madison Raburn, of St. George, Utah, and Joseph W. “J.W.” Raburn, of Greenville; and four stepsisters, Harriet R. Pendleton of St. George, Utah; Lenora R. Bright and Doris R. Cahoon, both of Swan Quarter; and Josephine R. Haywood, of Portsmouth, Virginia.

He was preceded in death by three brothers, Ormand Dempsey Sawyer in 1963, Floyd Wilson Sawyer in 2013 and William D. Sawyer in 2014; two sisters, Ruth Sawyer Hopkins in 2013 and Gloria Sawyer Fotusky in 2013; a stepsister, Mary Lou R. Clausing in 1992; and a stepbrother, Johnnie P. “Jackie” Raburn in 1999.

The family wishes to give special thanks to his very special friend Iris Lilley and to the caring staff of River Trace Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Memory Unit.

A graveside service, officiated by Anthony Ralph of Harbor Light Holiness Church, Manns Harbor, will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at 11 a.m., at the Belhaven Community Cemetery, West Main Street, Belhaven. The family will receive friends following the service at the cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Blind Center (219 N. Harvey St., Washington, NC 27889, phone: 252-946-6208) or Dementia Alliance of North Carolina (formerly Alzheimer’s of NC) (9131 Anson Way, Suite 206, Raleigh, NC 27615, phone: 800-228-8738).

Online condolences may be offered to the family by visiting

Paul Funeral Home & Crematory of Washington is honored to serve the Sawyer family.