Buddy Wayne “Dyke” Little ’57

Buddy Wayne “Dyke” Little passed away from a brief illness on January 6, 2024. He was surrounded by loved ones who will treasure his legacy of love and kindness. Dyke was born on January 27, 1935 in Brookford, North Carolina – a small mill town outside of Hickory. He felt privileged to have grown up in a such a special, close-knit community where cousins and friends were always eager to join him in a game of baseball, basketball, or football.

At Hickory High School, he went on to letter in those three sports and earn scholarships to play on Davidson College’s football and baseball teams. He was a star quarterback for Davidson and was asked by the Baltimore Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers to enter the NFL draft. He declined because he was of smaller stature and “would have been snapped like a twig” in the pro league.

Instead, he married Jacqueline Leigh Little of Patterson, New Jersey. He said he “fell to his knees” the moment he met her at the peanut shop where she worked. They married after he lost his driver’s license racing to visit her at her nursing school. They were blessed with five children.

Dyke was the consummate father; creating a safe, loving space for them throughout his life. He played with his children every day after work to give Jackie a much needed break. He was often seen playing tag with them on the field across the street from their far-too-small house or swimming with them at The Center’s pool or showing them the zen of walking nine holes of golf.

He was an excellent golfer – shooting his age at 77. When his right hip eventually called a halt to his physical time on the course, the Golf Channel gained an avid viewer and armchair commentator. He was always happiest outside and worked to beautify the grounds of his condo association; his former employer, First Security Company; and the Kenworth Historical District which awarded him a plaque in appreciation for his dedication to the community.

He also was active in his other home, Viewmont Baptist Church and was a deacon for many years. If the church doors were open, he was usually in attendance. After a particularly heavy snowfall, he trudged through the knee-deep snow to arrive on time for Sunday School. That day, though, the church doors didn’t open.

For 38 years, Dyke taught Sunday School at Bryan Center Nursing Home. Having gradually lost his hearing, he volunteered as a football advisor to the North Carolina School for the Deaf and taught sign language classes at Bryan Center and at the Brookford Community Center.

Most of all, Dyke will be remembered for his kindness and compassion. He was a humble man, preferring to do his good works quietly. His faith led him to action; advocating for civil rights and helping those who stumbled on life’s path to get back on their feet. He was friend to the friendless and showed grace to those in need. His quick humor and brilliant smile will be sorely missed by his friends and family.

He leaves behind his loving wife of 67 years, Jacqueline Little; daughters Kelley Walker (Kyle) and Amy Gary (Guy Rosenstiel); sons David Little (Sally) and Jon Jernigan (Adam). Brothers by marriage: Richard Tisdale (Loree) and Oliver Tisdale (Maureen). Grandchildren: Heather Isenhour (Marty), Corey Lingerfelt, Jon Lingerfelt, Leigh Lingerfelt (Louis Zollo), Emily Gary (Nathan Bell), Keri Walker (Tyler Younce), Britt Gary (Varsha Tulpule), David Gary (Izabell Slade), Ian Little (Kylie), and Cassie Little. Great-grandchildren: Taylor Killian (Chase Eckhoff), Oskar Isenhour, Karsyn Walker, Parker Lingerfelt, and Alden Bell, and great-great granddaughter Aubrey Killian.

His earthly family is certain he is now enjoying a beautiful reunion in heaven with his beloved mother Maggie Little, his dear son Richard, brother Jerry and his in-laws Bernice Hopper, Nap Gary, and Noel Tisdale. Numerous dogs were no doubt eager to greet him, although Dasher probably nudged everyone else out of the way to be the first to welcome Dyke home.

Receiving will begin at 1 p.m. at Viewmont Baptist Church in Hickory on Saturday, January 13, 2024. A celebration of life service will follow at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Jude’s Hospital and Viewmont Baptist Church are suggested.