Beal Brent “B.B.” Plyler, Jr. ’40

 B.B. Plyler Jr., 97, died at home July 21, 2017.

He was born Feb. 9, 1920, in Wilson, to the late Beal Brent Plyler and Harriet Settle Plyler. B.B. grew up in Wilson and lived most of his life there. B.B. and Flora McNeill Webb Plyler, his loving wife of 59 years who died in 2011, moved to Raleigh in 2009 to be near two of their three children and their five grandchildren, all of whom live in Raleigh.

Except for a couple of years after college, B.B. spent his entire 60-odd-year business career in Wilson as a salesman for New England Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston (now Met Life), New England Securities and Medical Group Insurance Services.

He was a Chartered Life Underwriter (C.L.U.), a Life Member of Million Dollar Round Table and was licensed by the National Association of Security Dealers (NASD). B.B. graduated from the public schools in Wilson and later served for 12 years on the Wilson County Board of Education. He attended Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson his freshman year.

He then transferred to Davidson College and graduated there in the Class of 1940. He was a member of the tennis team and Phi Gamma Delta social fraternity. B.B. was very active in Wilson’s business and social life. He served as president of numerous local organizations, including the Jaycees, the Chamber of Commerce, the Life Underwriters Association (four terms), the Wilson Country Club and the United Way.

He was a former member of the local board of First Citizens Bank and the general board of Builders Federal Savings and Loan — later acquired by Raleigh Federal Savings and Loan.

He was a lifelong member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and formerly served as a deacon and elder.

During World War II, B.B. served four years as an officer in the Navy (January 1942 – January 1946) being discharged as a lieutenant. His ship, the heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA39), laid down the initial bombardment for the Marine landing on Guadalcanal. The Quincy was sunk by the Japanese two days later, on Aug. 9, 1942, in the battle of Savo Island.

Out of approximately 1,000 men aboard the Quincy, 389 died and 147 were wounded. Out of the nine officers from B.B.’s Midshipman’s class at Northwestern University assigned to the Quincy, seven died. B.B. was scheduled for the invasion of Japan, but the A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki made it unnecessary.

After Japan surrendered, he went into Hiroshima where he witnessed the devastation. B.B. loved people, and people loved him. He had a quick wit, and he was always kind and affirming when using it.

Until this year, he walked a mile every day from his apartment at Whitaker Glen to Five Points and back. B.B.’s mind stayed sharp until his last breath, jokingly and affectionately referring to Pam Henderson, his fantastic Hospice/Transitions nurse, as “My Doomsday Nurse.”

Though his family and friends miss him greatly, they celebrate B.B.’s amazing life and their good fortune to have been part of it.

B.B. is survived by his three children, Brent Plyler of Riverton, William Webb Plyler (Sally) and Ella McNeill Plyler Frantz (Stuart), all of Raleigh; five grandchildren, Harriet Settle Plyler Monroe (Jeff), William Johnson Plyler (Ferebee), Brent Bussey (B.B.) Plyler, Flora McNeill Frantz and Robert Mays Frantz (Gabrielle); two great-grandchildren, John Robert Monroe and Duncan Jeffrey Monroe; two nieces, Caroline Webb Smart (David) of Raleigh and Katharyn Stephan of Melbourne, Florida; and one nephew, William Devin Webb of Raleigh. B.B. was preceded in death by his parents; by his wife, Flora; by his daughter-in-law, Susan Stancil Plyler; and by his great-grandson, William Webb Monroe.

The family thanks the following people for helping B.B. in recent years: Dr. James Parsons (internist), Dr. William Berry (oncologist), Dr. John McNeill (dentist), Mark Prakke (technology specialist), the staff of The Oaks at Whitaker Glen and more recently, the staff of Transitions. At B.B.’s request, his body was bequeathed for medical study and research.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Barton College — Harriet Settle Plyler Scholarship, P.O. Box 5000, Wilson, NC 27893.

There will be a memorial service on the campus of Barton College at The Kennedy Family Theatre, Woodard Street NE, Wilson, NC 27893 on Monday, July 24, at 11 a.m., followed by a reception and visitation of the family in the atrium adjacent to the theater.