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Longtime Telegram columnist dies at 84

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Bill Stancil

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Bill Stancil, longtime writer, editor and columnist for the Rocky Mount Telegram, died on March 8 at the age of 84. He was buried on Wednesday.

Stancil began his career at the Telegram in August 1957. He joined the Telegram as a reporter just after he returned from serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War. He served as a reporter for three years before going to work in the field of advertising at Sears, Roebuck and Company in Rocky Mount.

“Bill was unique and had a wonderful, pleasant personality,” said former Telegram reporter Clyde Gallop. “He was also interested in other people and appreciated it when other people excelled. Our friendship, which started in that newsroom, lasted until his death.”

Stancil transferred to Virginia and worked there until after his children came along.

“We moved back to Rocky Mount when the children came because we loved Rocky Mount and felt this was a great place to raise a family,” said Elizabeth Stancil, who was married to Stancil for 62 years.

After a stint working for Barcalounger in Rocky Mount, a reporter position again opened up at the Telegram and Stancil found his way back to journalism in April 1967. He remained on staff at the Telegram until October 1978, rising to the position of the Sunday editor during that time. He left the paper to begin working for Nash General Hospital, a position he held until his retirement.

Keith Abbott, who served as production manager for the Telegram for more than 39 years, said he remembers Stancil fondly.

“He always had a story to tell you and a nice comment to say. He was the Sunday editor for awhile and he was very good at that,” Abbott said.

Bill Ingram, who worked at the Telegram for 38 years and served as the classified advertising manager at the end of his career, said he loved working with Stancil.

“He was a nice Christian guy and a good family man. We spent a lot of time talking and he taught me a lot about life in general,” Ingram said.

However, Stancil’s commitment to the Telegram did not end when he left his full-time employment there. Even while he worked at the hospital, he continued to write a weekly column for the Telegram until his health forced him to give up the column on April 1, 2018, when Stancil was 83 years old.

“I wanted my faithful readers to know how much I appreciate your loyalty. It all goes back 40 or 50 years, and that's a lot of loyalty,” Stancil wrote in his last column. “I've always thought that a good story needs a chuckle or two sometimes, just to make the day brighter. You have hunted with me, fished with me and wandered part of the Great Outdoors alongside me.”

Telegram Editor Gene Metrick said Stancil’s contribution will long be remembered.

"Bill's column, 'The Billboard,' was a popular feature that attracted a loyal following among Telegram readers for decades," Metrick said. "His wit, folksy wisdom and humor never failed to entertain, enlighten and delight as he painted a vivid picture of life in eastern North Carolina. His presence on our editorial pages certainly has been missed since he discontinued his column. I'm quite glad that I had the opportunity to work with him toward the end of his writing career."

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