Thornton “Bill” Gorham, Jr.

Published 10:38 am Thursday, March 3, 2022


Born:  July 29, 1934, in Swan Quarter, NC

Eternal Sleep:  February 24, 2022, in Milwaukee, WI

Bill, after moving to Washington NC in 1949, attended P.S. Jones School and delivered groceries on his bike after school to earn money.

At a young age, with great work ethic in the 1950s, he worked part-time as a driver and helper at Randolph Funeral Home and as a pipe fitter/driver/laborer with J.S. Hill Construction and became a member of the Washington Elks during this time.

Bill joined Spring Garden Missionary Baptist Church in 1952 and during his active time there, he served on the Usher Board (Vice President/Member for 30 years); Trustee Board (40 years, Chair 1986-2003); Male Choir (Vice President 12 years); Church Real Estate Manager.

During the 1960s, he worked as a mechanic for Elliott Chevrolet which later became Lee Chevrolet/Pontiac.  In 1962, Bill was the first Black person from Beaufort County to attend and graduate from the General Motors Training Center.  Along with this training and the many specialty trainings he attended, he was a “Master Mechanic” (something he proudly let you know).

In 1975, Bill started one of the few black owned establishments in the area, Gorham Automotive, where he enjoyed one of his passions, working on vehicles, until his retirement in 1997.  During this time, he was also involved with the Noir Motor Club (Treasurer) and the King Cobra Motorcycle Club (Chairman of the Board) which allowed him to enjoy another passion, motorcycles (Honda Goldwing only).  He was also a ranking member of Prince Hall Hiram Lodge Masons.

Being visually impaired did not stop Bill from organizing or volunteering or traveling or using the computer or trying to get information on new technology.

During his retirement and in between traveling (whether by plane, train, bus or bicycle), he was active:  Washington Community Care Coalition (Founder & President) which donated food to many families during the holiday season; Pecan Grove Community Watch (Founder & Chairman) assisting with the quality of life in the neighborhood; the Beaufort County Association for Blind (Volunteer & Board of Directors Member) proving having a disability does not hinder life’s quality; Washington Police Advisory Board; Beebe Memorial Park (Committee Member); NAACP; The Next Step (Co-founder) collaborating with City Departments for a better living environment; Licensed Insurance Agent (Wilcox Funeral Home); ADT Security System Sales Representative to name a few of the entities that were privileged to know Bill.

Bill Gorham: Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Uncle, Cousin, Partner and a Friend!

Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 2:00 pm at Kingdom Life Community Church 3681 US HWY 17 N., Washington, NC. Interment will follow in Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Ministry of Comfort Entrusted to Heavenly Arms Family Mortuary & Cremation Services, LLC 906 W. 15th St. Washington, NC