Well-known Greensboro native, local businessman, and radio personality, William "Bill" Monroe Ownbey, 85, passed away peacefully January 23, 2014 at his home surrounded by his family. He succumbed to kidney cancer after battling it for several months.
His funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, January 27, 2014 in the Hanes-Lineberry N. Elm Funeral Chapel, followed by burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Sunday 5-7:00 pm at the Hanes-Lineberry N. Elm Funeral Home.
Bill was born October 31, 1928 in Greensboro, the youngest child of Juanita Sue Shepard and Dr. Arthur Dennis Ownbey and spent nearly his entire 85 years in Greensboro. As a young man, Bill graduated from Greensboro Senior High and Oak Ridge Military Institute, where he relished his duty as the "TAPS" trumpet player. He joined the United States Army, served in WWII under General McArthur, and had the privilege of guarding 26 of the most feared Japanese war criminals including Hideki Tojo at Sugamo Prison. After receiving his honorable discharge from service, he married Ann Marie "Tootsie" Ridenhour in 1949.
His working career began at Mann's Pharmacy in the O'Henry Hotel at the soda fountain before enlisting in the Army. After his return to Greensboro, he spent over 25 years as a part-time Deputy and Special Deputy with the Guilford County Sheriff's department and proudly spent over 50 years as owner of Ownbey Rental Service. He most enjoyed his part-time career as a radio announcer at WBIG, sitting in for Bob Poole's morning radio show, and as a local sports announcer from the 1950s through the early 2000's. Bill was often referred to as "The Voice of The Generals and Carolina Monarchs" ice hockey teams from the 1950s through the 1980s, announced the ABA Carolina Cougars, and announced play-by-play coverage of the "GGO", "GGCC", Wyndham Championship, Planters Pat Bradley Classic, and Men's and Women's US Open golf tournaments at Pinehurst, for local radio stations. He also announced the East-West All-Star High School Football games for over 50 years.
Bill was a member of the Greensboro Elks Lodge #602 and served as Exalted Ruler, Trustee, Esteemed Loyal Knight, and as Chaplain, won the Thad Eure Award, the highest award in the North Carolina Ritual Competition. He was past president of the Greensboro Jaycee Old Timers, a member of the 100 Club, Carolina Golf Reporters Association, American Rental Association, and the NC Rental Association.
Bill was preceded in death by his father, Dr. Arthur Dennis Ownbey, Sr., his mother, Juanita Sue Shepard Ownbey, both of Greensboro, his wife of 50 years, "Tootsie" Ridenhour Ownbey, his sister, Helen Ownbey Borger of New York, and his brother, Arthur Dennis Ownbey, Jr. of Wallace, NC. Surviving are his children Debbie Ownbey Wagoner (Mike), Bunnie Ownbey McClintock (George), and Bill Ownbey, Jr., all of Greensboro; his four grandchildren, Millicent Thornton Mills (Jason), Christie Ownbey, Sarah McClintock, and Charles McClintock (Kelly); two great-grandsons, Charlie and Mac Mills; and niece Adrienne Borger Lower of Chicago, IL.
Bill will be most remembered for his rich unmistakable voice, his sense of humor and outgoing personality, and deep love of golf. He loved being with his family and friends, especially his time with the "Monday Golf Group" and the "Almost Open" where he was the last remaining founding member. He was truly loved and will be dearly missed.
His family sincerely appreciates the care and support from Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro and requests memorial contributions in lieu of flowers be made to Hospice, 2500 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27405.
On line condolences may be made at www.haneslineberryfuneralhomes.com