Dr. William Thomas Poston, 100, of Statesville, passed away Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Gordon Hospice House.
Tom was born May 5, 1921, to the late Henry Alexander Poston and Annie Adams Poston. He was the seventh of eight children. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Nancy Brawley Poston; son, William Thomas Poston Jr. He was also preceded in death by his second wife of four years, Madge Kestler Poston; and brothers and sisters, Howard, Hoy, Henry Harold, Kenneth, Banks, Faye and Mary.
Tom is survived by his daughter, Carolyn Bartlett (Rick); son, Gary Poston (Darrell); grandchildren, Alex Elkins (Jack), Arik Bartlett (Tori), Landon Bartlett (Cassie); great-grandchildren, Paisley Bartlett, Aiden Bartlett, Amirra Elkins and baby Elkins on the way.
His family lived on Cemetery Street and his grandfather was the overseer at Oakwood Cemetery. Tom’s father worked 54 years at J.C. Steele & Sons. When the Depression hit, his family was forced to move into a smaller house and soon they lost that house too. They were forced to move to a home in the Shepherds community where there was no electricity or indoor plumbing. Tom had to do his schoolwork by kerosene lantern light. He was able to finish out his last years of high school by driving the family Model A Ford into town each day.
One of his first jobs, at age 15, was driving for Dr. James Davis, Davis Hospital namesake. He often reflected back on what a true privilege that was. After graduating from D. Matt Thompson High School as valedictorian in 1938, he married Nancy Brawley, beginning a union that spanned nearly 65 years until her death in 2004.
In 1942, Tom volunteered for the Army Air Force. He hoped to become a pilot, but due to colorblindness, he became an aircraft mechanic in the B-17 Flying Fortress Squadron. A sad experience for Tom and his family occurred in 1944, when his brother, Banks, was killed in Italy during the Battle of Anzio. He had only served in the Army for a few months. At the end of World War ll in 1945, Tom spent time in Hawaii as part of a G.I. chorus. He liked to tell the story that one of his fellow singers was John Mitchum, brother of actor Robert Mitchum. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Tom entered Davidson College where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Cum Laude in the spring of 1949, after just three years. He later received his master’s degree from Appalachian State University and in 1977, he earned his Doctorate in education from Duke University. Dr. Tom Poston began his career teaching science at Troutman High School. A few years later, he became principal at Brawley School and then was principal at Celeste Henkel School for 11 years. In 1964, Dr. Poston became assistant superintendent of Iredell County Schools and then served as superintendent from 1970 until his retirement in 1981.
One of Tom’s many passions was his work with the West Iredell Lions Club. He became a lion in March 1953 and helped charter the West Iredell Lions Club in 1957. He was recognized as the oldest Lions Club member in North Carolina at the time of his death. He has been recognized with many awards including a Jack Stickley Fellowship, Melvin Jones Fellowship, Lion of the Year, and had 50-plus years of perfect attendance. He has served the club as president, vice president, and chairman of many committees.
Tom was a great man of faith and loved his church and Methodist heritage. Tom served as a Sunday school teacher and sang in the choir at Bethlehem United Methodist Church for many decades alongside his wife Nancy, who played the organ. In years past, the church honored Tom and Nancy with Poston Fellowship Hall.
Family meant everything to Tom. He cherished the annual Adams’ Family Reunion and loved to reminisce about times past with family and friends. Tom also loved to tell a good joke and would often laugh so hard he could not get the punch line out. His stories, wit, smile and Godly example has been an inspiration to his family and will be greatly missed.
In Tom’s later years, one would often find him at the Statesville Historical Museum. He was a wealth of information for his good friend, Dr. Steve Hill, as they looked through pictures and memorabilia related to the history of Statesville. It was pure joy for Tom to share his many years of memories and love for Statesville and Iredell County with visitors to the museum.
Visitation with the family will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, April 23, at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in the Family Life Center. Funeral service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 24, at West Iredell High School. The Revs. Michael Flack and Olin Isenhour will be officiating along with Dr. Steve Hill. Military honors will be provided by the U.S. Air Force and the Iredell County Veterans Burial Detail. Graveside service will immediately follow at Bethlehem United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Iredell County, Bethlehem United Methodist Church or Statesville Historical Collection.