William Ernest Blackwell ’54

William Ernest (Bill) Blackwell, 86, passed away February 19 at the Arboretum at Heritage Greens after a lengthy battle with Frontotemporal Dementia.

Bill was born April 1, 1932, in Rocky Mount, N.C., to Ellen Wilkinson Blackwell and Rosser Ira Blackwell, along with his twin brother Rosser Ira, Jr., who died shortly after birth.

He grew up in Raleigh, NC and graduated from Broughton High School in 1950. Bill attended Davidson College and graduated in 1954 with a degree in Business & Economics.

Following graduation, he chose to serve his country and enlisted in the US Army where he spent two years in Germany as part of the occupational forces. Upon return from Germany, Bill earned his Masters of Business Administration at UNC-Chapel Hill where he became an avid and lifelong Tarheel fan.

In 1957, Bill moved to Greensboro and began his career with Jefferson Standard as a financial analyst. Bill earned both his Chartered Financial Analyst and Certified Life Underwriter designations, enabling him to successfully manage Jefferson-Standard’s investment portfolio.

After Jefferson-Standard’s merger with Pilot Life, Bill took on increased operating responsibilities eventually serving as Executive Vice President, Vice-Chairman of the Board, and Chief Operating Officer of Jefferson-Pilot Corporation and President, Jefferson-Pilot Communications.

Bill was committed to Greensboro and Morehead City and served in numerous volunteer capacities and on multiple boards, including Greensboro College Board of Trustees, Davidson College Board of Visitors, Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Board, NC School of Math and Science Foundation Board, Greensboro YMCA Board of Directors, and the Guilford College Board of Visitors. He served as a member of the Greensboro Rotary Club and was a sustaining Paul Harris Fellow. He was also a long-time member of the Greensboro Sports Council.

In 1973, Bill married Elizabeth (Liz) Levitan Blackwell and became step-father to two young children, Scott and Tracy.

Bill was an avid skier and enjoyed skiing throughout New England and the West. Bill also enjoyed tennis with his friends. He loved the outdoors, leading family and friends on hiking, backpacking and canoeing trips. He also valued spending time at Morehead City boating, fishing and windsurfing.

After his retirement, Bill and Liz spent time traveling to many places in Europe, N. America, Australia, Africa, and Asia until Bill’s advancing dementia made that no longer possible.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Ellen and Rosser Ira Blackwell and brother John Blackwell.

Bill is survived by his wife of 46 years, Elizabeth (Liz) Blackwell, sister Louis Ledbetter of Raleigh, step-son Scott Sternberg (Emily) of Greenwich Connecticut, step-daughter Tracy Sternberg of Wake Forest, and three grandchildren, Will, Katherine, and Zach Sternberg.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (607 N. Greene Street, North Carolina 27401) or the charity of your choice.

Funeral services will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 3 pm on Monday, February 25th.