New portrait added to courthouse honoring late attorney  

Published 10:42 am Friday, March 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Friends and family of Billy Mayo will gather this afternoon (Friday, Mar. 3) at 4 p.m. at the Beaufort County Courthouse to unveil a portrait of the respected attorney. 

Mayo, a Washington High School graduate, was the former attorney for the Towns of Belhaven and Aurora. 

One of his long time friends Tom Archie will speak at the portrait unveiling. He and Mayo knew each other since the fall of 1968 when Archie moved to the area after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where Mayo was also an alumnus. 

Archie shared with the Daily News ahead of the unveiling that Mayo helped him often at the beginning of his career – pausing to answer a question or finding information and resources.

“He was what they used to call a gentleman attorney,” Archie said. “I don’t think I ever saw Billy lose his temper. He was always quiet and very much the gentleman. I think that’s something that we miss a lot at least I did in my later years of practicing law…” 

A joke he shared with Mayo was calling each other “doctor.” Archie would call Mayo’s office and ask if the doctor was in. The joke stemmed from Archie’s 1968 graduating law class being the first to be awarded a Juris Doctorate degree instead of a Masters of Law, or LLM. 

Other law schools in North Carolina followed suit and began replacing alumni’s LLM degrees with Juris Doctorate degrees. When Mayo replaced his degrees, Archie joked, “Well, Dr. Mayo, I think that’s wonderful.” Mayo replied laughing, “Thank you, Dr. Archie.” 

Archie thinks “it is absolutely wonderful” that a portrait of Mayo is being added to the Beaufort County Courthouse. “I think it’s a very good thing that the local bar association decided to do. I’m very pleased that that’s happening.” 

Don Stroud, an attorney in Washington, was chosen to select the artist for Mayo’s portrait – Mike Bennett of Martin County whose work can be seen throughout the southeast including Rex Cancer Center in Raleigh, municipal buildings, churches and other institutions. 

“As fine as you will find this portrait to be and as stellar as Mr. Mayo’s career was, they fail in comparison to his greatest legacy- an exceptional family who continue his legacy of Christian service,” Stroud said. 

According to his obituary, Mayo served in the United States Navy after graduating from Washington High School. 

“He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina (A.B. 1949, LLB 1953, JD 1969). He was a member of staff with the NC Attorney General’s Office from 1954 until 1956, served as administrative assistant with the NC State Bar and Board of Examiners from 1956 until 1957, and was prosecuting attorney ror Beaufort County Recorders Court from 1957 until 1968. He was the 1965 Beaufort County Second Judicial District President and the Assistant Superior Court Solicitor from 1965 until J.968. He was the J.98 J. President of the NC County Attorneys Association, and served on the Salvation Army Advisory Board from 1970 until 1985. He was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for the State of North Carolina and inducted into the North Carolina State Bar General Practice Hall of Fame. He received the 1982 Outstanding County Attorney Award, the 1999 NC Bar Association Community Service Award and was the Beaufort County attorney from 1968 until 2014. He practiced law first with his father John A. Mayo and later with his son, William P. Mayo Jr., at Mayo & Mayo Attorneys in Washington, NC.”

Mayo died at the age of 94 on Oct. 17, 2020 at his Washington home.