Russell Newton Barringer, Jr. ’57

Russell Newton Barringer, Jr., November 10, 2023. He was born in Durham, North Carolina on March 16, 1935, to the late Russell N. Barringer, Sr., and Maelee McKenzie Page Barringer.

He attended the Calvert Method School (now Durham Academy), Carr Junior High School, and Durham High School. Upon graduation he attended Davidson College for two years before transferring to Duke University to be closer to his fiancé, Mary Teer.

He was married on November 18, 1955 to his beloved Mary Teer, who pre-deceased him on November 21, 2021. He began his career at West Durham Lumber Company in 1955, a company founded by his father. In 1967, he was named President and CEO of Dealers Supply Company, a division of West Durham Lumber Company. Under his extraordinary leadership, Dealers Supply grew into one of the top thirty floorcovering distribution companies in the United States and was among the top fifty privately held companies in North Carolina many years running.

From early childhood Russell was passionate about aviation. For almost fifty years he was an accomplished pilot and aircraft owner. His devotion to private aviation led to his appointment to the North Carolina Department of Transportation Aeronautics Commission, a position he proudly held through both Republican and Democratic administrations. His love for aircraft and his business success allowed him to become the first person to charter the Concorde for a trip to Paris for some of his beloved customers. He served as a mentor to many aspiring young pilots throughout his lifetime even after he reluctantly gave up his license at age eighty.

His devotion to Durham was manifest in countless ways, both openly and more often, quietly. He served as the Chairman of the Citizens Safety Patrol and oversaw the annual trip to Washington DC for over a thousand young Safety Patrol boys involved in that program.

As a long time member of the Durham Planning and Zoning Commission, he was very much a part of creating the Durham we have today. He gladly gave of his time and financial support to dozens of civic groups and institutions. A charter member of the Iron Dukes, the University he loved so, was supported by him on both the academic and athletic side. He took great pride in providing, along with his sisters, the Fuqua School of Business a building named after their father.

A stalwart Duke fan, he suffered through many difficult times in both the football and basketball programs but never wavered in his belief in their greatness, however long it took.

His love for the game of golf throughout his lifetime brought him immeasurable joy. From boyhood when his mother would pack him a sandwich and send him off to play nine holes at the age of six until hanging up his clubs at eighty- three, he was a disciple of the game. He traveled the world in pursuit of playing the legendary courses and could conservatively claim to have played almost seventy- five of the top hundred in the world at one point.

Russell never grasped the fourteen- club rule as a directive to the number of golf clubs in your bag rather than the number of golf clubs one should hold membership. He was a member of Hope Valley Country Club for sixty-eight years. He loved his homes in Myrtle Beach the first of which was secured in 1974. He joined the Dunes Club that year and remained a member until his death. Over the years he was a founding member of the following: Treyburn (Durham, NC), Old Chatham, Wachesaw Plantation, The Reserve, Governor’s Club, and the Robert Trent Jones Club. It is possible there were more that he kept secret! He loved nothing better than driving out to RDU on a late Thursday with a couple of friends, loading them and their golf bags into his airplane and flying off to one of his courses.

One his most extraordinary golf endeavors was his fifty-six year leading the CRUDS. A golf buddy tradition that is unparalleled in golf history. Beginning in 1967, Russell organized, directed a rarely changing cast of characters for over a hundred golf trips to Myrtle Beach (with one ten-day stint to Scotland). The achievement was worthy of a featured story on Golf Channel upon the hundredth trip.

His reverence for the United States and the armed forces was a core passion of his. As an student in the history of World War II, Russell was often asked to give lectures about various aspects of that conflict. He served in the United States Army Reserves receiving an honorable discharge after his service. There are not adequate words to describe the pride he held when his grandson, and namesake, Russell N. Barringer IV, joined the United States Air Force and was assigned pilot duty flying F-35 fighter jets.

As a prominent businessman, he served as Chairman/CEO of many different entities over his career. He created thousands of jobs throughout NC, SC, TN, VA, OH, PA. He mentored and financially invested in dozens of people he believed in. As a real estate developer he created many neighborhoods around Durham.

A lifelong Republican, he was deeply active in politics both locally and nationally. He ran unsuccessfully for Durham County Commissioner. Over the many decades he opened his house up to countless candidates much to his wife’s chagrin.

He accumulated a massive wardrobe of clothes and never failed to be best dressed in any room. He did not purchase a pair of jeans (dungarees in his vernacular) until he was in his early 60’s and that was to wear to a country-western themed event. That pair of jeans was sent to Goodwill after one wearing, enlarging the 100’s of dress shirts, pants and sport coats that he donated over the years. The number of males walking around with RNB embroidered on the clothing he culled over the years is impressive.

Finally, his family was the most important thing in his life. Not just his immediate family but his sisters and brother, his nieces and nephews well-being were driving responsibilities he carried out with love and equity.

As the father of three sons, he was a stern disciplinarian for minor transgressions and a loving forgiver and ever-present source of support when one of them committed a major transgression. He provided every opportunity that any child could have wished for. He stepped aside from many of his corporate leadership positions in favor of his sons when he felt the time for them to move the entities forward. He somehow crafted corporate structures that allowed each son to rise to those responsibilities with limited overlap between them. Once he handed over the reins he rarely second-guessed and never overruled allowing each to make mistakes but to also let them shine at an earlier age than they probably deserved.

He took joy in family traditional family gatherings hosting with his wife spectacular Thanksgiving dinners and over-the-top Christmas celebrations despite unanimous giggling from all in attendance when he inevitably failed to get through the Blessing without choking up.

He was a singularly giant personality who lived an incredibly blessed life. At the same time, his unwavering respect and the graciousness he extended to people from all walks of life made all he came into contact with feel better. He will be desperately missed by all.

He is survived by his sons, Russell N. Barringer, III, (Amanda Tuck Barringer) Edward Teer Barringer, (Laura Collins Barringer) and Stephen W. Barringer (Kelly Elizabeth Wood). He also is survived by his grandchildren, Russell N. Barringer IV, McKenzie Tuck Barringer, Anderson T. Barringer, Mary Bowen Barringer, Fitz Edward Barringer, Neils Teer Barringer, Pickens Collins Barringer, Grace Barringer Moroney, Veronica Page Barringer and great-grandchildren, Adlai W. Barringer, Wynfryd Barringer, and Mary Margaret Moroney.

His family will be forever grateful to angel caregivers who have been a part of our family through both our parents in their final years. Donna Garner, Lorene Mitchiner, Bonnie Hardison, Tiffany Cindric, Sharon Toney, and Connie Wooten. We are also thankful for the ever-present help in these last few years for the help keeping the family home safe and comfortable through the diligent efforts of John Williams.

A Visitation was held at 2825 Chelsea Circle on Tuesday from 6:00 PM until 8:00 pm. A Memorial Service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 2:00 PM. A reception at the home will follow immediately after the service.

A private interment will be held.