William Edward “Bill” Christopher Jr. died peacefully on Thursday, Oct 22, 2020 at his home with his wife and children by his side.
Bill was born in Kingsport, Tenn., on Jan. 29, 1929, to his mother, Rita, and his father, Bill Sr., where he grew up before departing for college. After graduating from Davidson College, he returned home to work for his father at Christopher-Cawood Insurance Co. He was, however, a self-proclaimed “lousy salesman” and soon after enlisted in the Army and served in the 115th Counter-Intelligence Corps during the Korean War. He was primarily stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco and later bragged that his office had a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
He returned to graduate school at East Tennessee State University and then Bowman Gray School of Medicine on the way to becoming an MD and a psychiatrist. He completed an internship at DC General, followed by a residency at St. Elizabeths Psychiatric Hospital. He and his first wife Linda’s child, Elizabeth, was born (1966) in D.C., where he set up his first practice of psychiatry.
He later moved to and started a successful and long-running psychiatric practice in Charlotte, N.C. In addition to his private practice, and for a number of years, he would travel on Thursdays to nearby Huntersville Prison to provide psychiatric services to the prison population – often times with his dog Licky in tow.
While in Charlotte he met Lucy Davis Johnson, whom he married in 1974. Together they raised a blended family of five children. After nearly two decades in private practice, he and Lucy, with their son Bill, moved to Cashiers where they owned and managed the Cottage Inn. He spent his final years with Lucy in retirement at their mountain home, dabbling in writing, acting, and the occasional social activism.
He was a member of the Cashiers Bibliophiles, the Appalachian Humanists, and for a period was the president of the Cashiers Community Council, as well as an organizing member of Occupy WNC and the Jackson County NAACP. He even took a turn as Santa in the Cashiers Christmas Parade.
For those lucky enough to be close to him, he was the “Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas,” the “Breather,” and often the independent voice in the room. He was a dog-lover and – no matter their name – called them all Poochie after his first dog. He had a reverence for all living things – he would escort a spider safely outside rather than see to its demise.
Bill was a gentleman, an instigator, an outrageous disciplinarian, a sesquipedalian (he would tell you to look it up), an intellectual, a Humanist. He was a good and challenging listener – one who helped people work out their problems by patiently leading them to their own solutions. He could be embarrassing in a wonderful way. He was opinionated and stubborn as hell, but he was also a loyal defender and cheerleader to those he loved.
In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his sister, Elizabeth and her husband Carlyle Marney; his daughter, Sarah Davis Christopher; his cousin, Buck Groseclose; and most recently his best friend, Creighton Peden.
He leaves behind Lucy, his wife of 46 years; his daughters Elizabeth Christopher (Vince Scarlata) Elizabeth Johnson, Margaret Chiles (Trey); his sons Robert Johnson (Susan) and Bill Christopher (Christine Kim Brueck). His seven grandchildren are Caroline and Josh Johnson, Macon and Victor Chiles, Solomon and Inman Christopher and Jacqueline Scarlata.
His family will gather to remember Bill in the spring.
Anyone who chooses to remember his life could donate to the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library, P.O. Box 2628, Cashiers NC 28717; to the Jackson County NAACP, P.O. Box 788, Sylva NC 28779; or to Four Seasons Hospice, 571 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock NC 28731.
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